These are my Ending Comments on the SpoonRiver of Houses. More Fiction Friday Posts are lurking in my Warehouse of Fiction so keep coming back. You have been reading these posts for over a year and I want to thank you and invite you back. All of the Fiction Friday Posts are at http://fiction-friday.com .
I was eight or nine years old at a Baptist Bible Camp. In the summertime. My family was Methodist and all of us kids were christened in infancy as such.
I don’t know why I ended up in the camp but there I was.
If any of you have ever heard snippets of a fire and brimstone reverend you know how much doom saying they can do.
We were all gathered in the sanctuary, can you believe a church camp has a church that rivals a full time church in every detail?
We went to worship services day and night.
There were games in between.
This is where I learned the names of the books of the Old Testament from Genesis through the Proverbs. I can still recite them like the alphabet. We also learned verses. Adults would feed them to us, short ones, a phrase at a time and we would hold them in memory just long enough to get through the door and spew them back to another adult. It didn’t matter what they meant. We just took them and remembered them said them and forgot them.
I do remember I had Ephesians Eight and Nine. That meant it was a New Testament book, chapter two verses were sentences so this was sentence eight and nine. I do not know off hand where one began and the other took up but it was…”For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” I have no idea why they would expect a kid to get it. But I retold the verse and was sent back out to remember another. No prizes, no one was keeping score. But “Jesus Wept.” There was also John chapter three verse sixteen and the Lords Prayer and the Valley of Death.
All of those come in handy when trying to stand your own during a religion debate.
One day toward the end of camp we were all in the church. The very grand for a church camp church.
The sermon, lecture, fear package, involved the news that the very walls would cry out against us after we died. The only person who had ever died was President Kennedy and he was buried naked. That is why the casket was closed up.
Anyway, the news that we were all going to die was not comforting to a kid like me.
There was going to be a Judgment Day and there was no way we could hide our sins. Sins involved lies and what kid reaches the grand old age of eight without telling a small one or a whopper? I was in trouble and I knew it.
Baptists have no priest, no one to run interference on our behalf. The only way past the horrid judgment was to convert and take Jesus into our hearts. That was another feature beyond most of us there.
The walls would cry out against us a frightening thing. I was terrified. It must be true because the person telling it was a grown up man and why would he lie about this?
I imagined the bricks of the building coming to life at that moment and shouting out my many sins. These very bricks knew them all, even the ones I committed before I got there. The words would echo from the rafters and everyone would know even the most insignificant of them all.
What about that time I threw up in bed and pretended to be well so I could go to school?
That had to be my biggest sin. I didn’t even get away with that one, my mom found it after I threw up in the bathroom and she was putting me back to bed for the day.
There were the bad thoughts I had about the fellow my mom was with, who didn’t like girls.
There was a part of the New Tesitment I found out later, where the stones along the road were apt to cry out in joy if the people were silenced.
When I reached college with a lifetime of sins behind me and another lifetime of sins ahead of me, I participated in a theatrical production of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology.
I played the parts of five spoon river people who had died and were rising from the gravesites to tell their stories. Short stories not much longer than sonnets.
The idea of the walls crying out against mankind. Humankind, coupled with the idea of the Spoon River Anthology came to mind when I decided to try for my fifth NaNoWriMo.
Surely in a month’s time I could gather up the stories of thirty houses who had stories to tell.
I began to list all the kinds of houses and homes I could think of and other people were glad to contribute to the list. Thirty Houses with thirty stories seemed doable and because I tend toward getting a story, a memory and injustice done in as few words as possible, I ended up with a list of sixty eight houses.
On my list, some of the houses, according to standard definition, were the same. An ale house is pretty much the same as a public house.
I researched some of them and learned things I had not come to the NaNo with. I did not know the Texas School Book Depository was a warehouse. I also did not know how a poorhouse related to an almshouse, a workhouse, a mad house and a nursing home.
Some of the stories contained here are based on true life as I remember it and others are totally made up on the spot.
One story about the last house on the left or the first house on the right had me so creeped out with myself that I had to go away from it with a certain worry that I might need professional counseling.
Some of the houses were proud, some sad, some angry. Each has a story to tell. Some were haunted. Some were lonely.
I gave them to you a house at a time and hoped you could set aside your judgment and simply accept these homes for what they were.
I want to thank you all for coming back again and again and hope you will continue to drop by Fiction Friday to see what I’m pulling out of my warehouse of fiction.
Don’t touch anything Sharp!