This Old House

March 27th, 2006  |  Published in old and busted

When you’re me and you’re renting a house in the middle of a block that seems to be trying to work up the collective momentum to go from being a merely pleasant place populated by blue collar types and retirees to something one might reflexively call “nice” you feel an irrational urge to apologize now and then for living in a house that needs a new coat of paint on the porch and some fresh siding.

I was in the process of apologizing-to-the-extent-appropriate for a fence we share with the neighbor to the east blowing over into her yard and noting that I would, indeed, mention to the landlord that the scrubby little tree between our houses is making her patio buckle, when she dropped an interesting tidbit on me: Our house, in addition to having been owned by someone who fed all of the original 1910 interior trim into a potbelly stove one winter, was also home to a released mental patient who went off his meds, got drunk, and wandered over to the house on our west side and shot the inhabitant dead.

That incident was part of a string of events that led to the owner of the house declaring bankruptcy and the current owner (and our landlord) moving in and getting the place for cheap. (The deed history would indicate $97,300 in 1999.)

We don’t know if our current neighbor to the west knows this bit of history, and I’m not sure what the appropriate conversational gambit would be to bring it up.

I’m thinking something like “Hey … you know how the guy that used to live in our house totally murdered the guy that used to live in your house? No? Well … anyhow … we’re totally not like that, so don’t worry.”

I also found some fixtures for grow lights in the basement a few days ago, tucked up in the rafters. I thought at first “Maybe they weren’t grow lights,” but then I noticed the Lion of Judah sticker on the heating duct right next to it and decided that probably they were.

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