The children in the neighborhood called me the Boo Radley House.
Boo and his house were fictional. Located in a small black and white town. A house in a movie based on Harper Lee’s novel entitled To Kill a Mockingbird. Boo was a battered mentally ill fellow who never came out of his house. Something to do with scissors. Boo was a very pale character.
Me, I’m just a beat up farmhouse that was absorbed by the town as it grew toward me. I was engulfed an amoeba of town houses.
I really didn’t have to do much to earn a reputation. I am like the lanky kid in school. The other houses around me seem to go together I look like a tooth. I feel like a sore thumb.
The kids like to be creeped out. I’m doing them a favor. They don’t need to know anything more than made up gore ever happened here. But it did. It is just that no one knows about it.
The idea of burying people in the basement did not come from the mind of a screen writer. It was happening long before someone thought it up and it will go on until human kind breathes its last.
I have four bodies down here. Interred one at a time. Who would want to tumble more than one body to a grave? Seems fitting that if they were born differently they should be buried in their own graves.
It all started out quite by accident. The old woman who lived here a long time ago died in bed. Not so bad, she wasn’t starved to death. She was nursed to death. The wife of the farmer started out being sincerely concerned and wanted to help.
The old woman couldn’t get herself out of the bed to go to the bathroom and took to yelling the most obscene things at people. Unnatural sex things that no one spoke out loud those days and these days they certainly wouldn’t share such things with family members.
The old woman had something wrong, it stole her shut up, her think it don’t say it control. She became more and more abusive. Toward the end, no one came near the room, not her son the farmer, not the kids or grand kids.
The farmer’s wife came in one morning and stuffed a pillow into her face and held it tight for more than an hour after the last stirring of the old bat. Her arms ached and her shoulders and back hurt from the effort.
The farmer came in that evening and didn’t ask after his mother. Then his wife decided it would mess up a perfectly good dinner to break such news, so she waited.
It took two days for the farmer to ask about the old woman and by then in high summer it was obvious she had been there more than a day.
He knew what horrors his wife had put up with and wanted to spare her the questions of the undertaker. He also had no money in reserve for the old woman’s burial.
He dug a hole in the cellar and he and his wife laid her to rest there. Mixed in some lime and covered her over. He did put her in deep. Really deep.
Deep enough that when the next owner moved in and buried his wife and kid down there, he never once suspected or even came near unearthing the old mother-in-law.
People pretty much see what they want and no one asked much about the man’s wife and daughter. Their departure didn’t raise an eyebrow. The fellow used up the rest of the lime that was down there left over from the previous owners.
It was six months later when a teen-aged girl went missing that the final body was dragged thump, thump, down the steps and this girl went unknowingly a few feet above the old mother-in-law.
The guy still lives here. He is terribly sick these days, can’t catch his breath. He is a quiet man, keeps to himself.
The kids, teens in the neighborhood quicken their step as they walk past me.
The old guy was outside yesterday, sweeping his porch. He got winded and went back inside. The man is pale, he doesn’t get out at all these days. Everyone in the neighborhood has joked about him at one time or another. They say he might be a serial killer. They kid each other about him being a quiet guy who keeps to himself.
Someday the old fellow is going to drop dead in here. When he starts to raise a stink I suppose someone will come clean up and resell the place. I really doubt anyone is going to go down to the cellar and actually dig up the dirt floor. It is just dirt. They will probably close that part off altogether. Who needs a cellar these days?
Yes, the kids call me the Boo Radley House. There is even a huge trunked tree out front causing a heave in the sidewalk out there. I suppose some well read kid will place some trinket in the trunk of the tree someday. But I really don’t think anyone will know the true horror that happened here.
__Boo Radley House