Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Home Shriek Home"

Earlier today, I posted "Eviction, Noticed."  Series sponsor ladymondegreen. People wondered why the monsters didn't stay with the narrator and where they went.  I hadn't thought about that before, but the first thing that occurred to me was: he didn't have another place lined up, so there wasn't room for them.  The second thing that occurred to me was this...


Home Shriek Home


Over a year of couch-surfing
and crappy apartments.
Over a year of no company
but the cockroaches.
Over a year since I lost
a fine old house to foreclosure.

Things were looking up, though --
I finally got a job webmastering a new site,
and I met a girl geek with cute software
while she was installing some hardware,
and then I saw the ad.

Fixer-Upper.
Victorian house, 3 bdrm, 2 ba.
As-is.  Best offer.

I looked it over on the outside:
Shingles solid except for one bald patch.
Windows intact but in need of putty.
Half the rails missing from the front porch.
Nice gingerbread.

I looked it over on the inside:
One bathroom missing its toilet.
Speaking tubes clogged with gunk.
Bedrooms small, living room surprisingly large.
Creaky stairs leading to jammed attic door.
Jammed basement door probably leading to more creaky stairs.
Enamel kitchen fixtures chipped but functional.
Ooo ... a dumb-waiter.

I made my offer,
not expecting much,
but the seller got right back to me.
Sold!

The week after I moved in,
I invited my girl over.
She ran her hand over the walnut banister
and leaned on the stairs --
eee-EEE, eee-EEE, eee-EEE --
and giggled.

"It's a fixer-upper," I said,
a trifle defensively.

"I'll help you fix it up," she said.
"My father was a carpenter."

So we hired a guy to patch the shingles
while we worked on the porch.
We found a matching toilet at a salvage shop
and we reputtied the windows
just in time for a cold snap.

The radiators came online
with a sputter and bang.
The hot water pipes rattled.
Without thinking, I reached up
and hit them with a wrench, bing-tang-bang!
B'ting bang!
  the pipes replied,
and then shut up.

"What the hell was that?"
said my girl, reaching for her own wrench.

"Oh, well, you know these old houses ...
they make noises," I said.

"Oh yes," she said,
"I know old houses."

That night, when the teakettle whistled,
I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye.
"I'll get it," I called.
When I went into the kitchen,
no one was there,
but when I came back to the living room,
the rocker was rocking slowly.
I ignored it, and finished making two cups of tea,
then suggested to my fellow geek
that the spare bedroom would make a fine computer room.

The next morning
I was awakened by a shriek
and a soaking wet girl running down the hall.
I dashed into the bathroom,
yanked open the flapping closet door --

There was a monster in the closet.
"What did you just do?" I yelled.

"I offered her a towel,"
the monster said.  He waggled his eyebrows.
"Nice--"
I slammed the door on him.

Interestingly, she had gotten her own towel
from somewhere else, and was sprawled
nonchalantly on the couch when I came out.
Without a word, we agreed to pretend
that nothing had happened.

I went into the kitchen to make breakfast.
Bacon frying.
Eggs scrambling.
Coffee perking.
Then the radiator in the kitchen
gave a sad little gurgle as the system lost pressure.

Grumbling, I pried open the basement door
and went down the creaky wobbling stairs.
An ugly little troll the color of bleu cheese
looked up from the wheezing furnace and
said over its shoulder, "Workin' on it, bub."

I screamed and ran back up the basement stairs
and slammed the door behind me,
where it jammed again.
"What the hell was that?!"  I gasped.

My girl looked at me,
one corner of her mouth curling up.
"I'll hazard a guess that you just met my troll."

"Why do you have a troll?" I said.
"No, wait, why do have a troll?"

"I guess he couldn't find anywhere else
after I had to leave my last place,"
she said.  Then she chuckled.
"At least you had clothes on
when you met my  special roommate."

Well, what could I do?
I introduced her properly to the bogeyman
and the monsters under-the-bed and in-the-closet
and the little old lady ghost.
And then I proposed.

When she said yes,
the eldritch cheers cracked a window.

"I'll get that," a voice said sheepishly
through the speaking tubes.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, horror, humor, poem, poetry, reading, writing
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