House Lovers

Whatever you do, don’t go to houselovers.org. Or, if they’ve moved, don’t try to find them. I’m dead fucking serious about this.

It looks like a joke. A message board, a bunch of pictures of houses. Like the people who are so into model trains they build entire cities for them to service. No, no, no, this is way worse.

We wanted to sell our house, get a yard big enough for the Malamute and Newfoundland. We always thought the place was pretty neat, not like the cookie-cutter colonials around us, but we were still surprised to learn it was actually the work of an architect of some note, called Woodrue or something. Great. Property value: high. Hopes: higher.

So we put it up for sale and did the whole song-and-dance ourselves(no realtor for us!) Tried to be home as much as possible to show people around. I think my wife first noticed how many of the potential buyers were just men by themselves. No family, no business card or anything like that. Thy just drove by the house and had to have a look inside. They were all very complimentary about the style. Way, way too complementary. One guy stuck in my mind, this desk-jockey type with a rust-colored beard gushing about how “masculine” the architecture was. My wife and I both had a bit of a laugh over it, shrugged it off, put it down to the architect’s fame.

They would run their hands over the walls and arches, creepy shit like that. One guy asked to use the bathroom partway through a tour and took a really long time. My wife went to knock on the door, see if he was okay, and swears she heard him moaning. We laughed at that, too. It was funny. Creepy, but funny.

My friend Pete was the one who found the site. I ran into him getting coffee in the morning and he said our house was on this website. He wouldn’t tell me how he found it, seemed kind of perturbed. But he told me the address. I looked it up later that day, called the wife over, had another laugh. It seemed funny at first.

You’d get pictures of a doorway followed by post after post of lecherous comments. The most innocuous shit got the worst of it. I saw one guy threatening to blow his load over a single step. And that’s probably the most palatable example I could give you.

Well, we found our house before long. It was relatively tame compared to other shit on there. The guy started out talking about our “luscious” house and how it was the only Woodrue left in the area. He criticized the garage(added on in 1975) and the fence we’d put up around the front yard. I barely warranted a mention. The real vitriol they saved for my wife, bitching that the decorations she’d put up had ruined the interior, calling her all sorts of horrible names.

Bad as that is, it still wasn’t the worst.

They were making plans to scope out the house. It wasn’t that we had a lot of closeted architect lovers in the area, these assholes were traveling out of state to see us. And they were done playing nice. One guy talked about jimmying the back door while we were gone so he could lick the hallway lintel. Another one debated poisoning our dogs before they scarred up the wood floor.

It went on like that, I think you get the picture.

My wife and I felt like we’d just got a death sentence. We turned off the computer and went to bed for a sleepless night. Every crack, every pop in that house made me jump.

We took the sign out of the yard and finally contacted a real estate agent. We told her to screen out any single people, families only. The flow stemmed to a trickle, but we were okay with that. I managed to resist temptation for a week before I checked the website again. I immediately wished I hadn’t.

God, they were angry. I mean, they were fucking furious. They tossed around plans to get us evicted, calling the IRS(they got a hold of one of my old tax returns, somehow) even just breaking in and killing us. All because we stopped them from being inside the house.

It’s weird. They spoke as if they had a right to see the house, like it was really theirs and we had stolen it somehow.

I didn’t tell my wife. I really should have, but like an ass I tried to handle it myself. I joined the site, made a post saying that I would call the cops at the first sign of any of them setting foot in my yard. I was immediately banned and the post deleted. In its place were a thousand posts mocking me and my wife, taunting us, detailing all the horrible things they would do to us for the crime of living in our own house. I got bombarded with emails and a that virus killed my computer and that was that for a while.

We took the house off the market completely. I invested in home security, my wife got a concealed-carry license, and we tried to live like we’d never seen the site. I decided to put an extension on the house, just a little room adjacent to the washroom, somewhere to put the dog food and hang up coats. I should’ve expected trouble.

My wife was out in the yard, weeding the flower beds. The dogs were shut up in the house and the contractors working on the addition had gone to lunch, so she was alone.

This truck pulled up, all white, no identifying logo. This guy got out. He was dressed like a city workman, hard hat and everything, and he was livid. He flashed a badge at my wife too fast for her to see and told her the addition to our house was against the city’s municipal grounds contract. She’d have to  come with him, now, or face civic arrest. He got my wife’s arm in both his hands, the dogs were flinging themselves against the front door, and my wife was trying to fight free and ask him what the hell he was talking about.

Luckily, one of the contractors came back. He pulled up, still drinking his shake, and hit the horn. The guy holding my wife’s arm dropped it and sprinted to the truck, backed out so fast he scraped the side of the contractor’s truck. The contractor saw to my wife, told her what I’m sure you’ve already guessed: there’s no such thing as a municipal grounds contract and the guy was in no way legit. I left work early and held her all night, neither of us sleeping once.

We forewent the formality of selling and stayed at her sister’s place while we looked for a new house. I checked the site, once, and saw they were keeping track of our movements, salivating at the prospect of being able to walk through the house with no human clutter.

Well, a developer was buying up land in the area, and I saw an opportunity too perfect to miss.  I took a bath on that deal, but the emotional reward was greater. The day after we took our last box away they knocked it down, built five McMansions on the plot. The last post I saw on the site was seething about how a great piece of architecture had been destroyed, condemning us and the developers to a long, painful death.

We moved into a place that was exactly like all the houses around it. Neither of us could really relax again, not after what we’d been through, but we made the effort.

I guess I should be thankful, living in a place that isn’t special anymore. But I can’t be. The scariest thing about this is how arbitrary it all is. What the hell is it that made our house special compared to other houses? Someone just decided one day that it was? And who’s to say they wouldn’t just decide one day that another house is too special to live in, start harassing those people? Christ. Who’s to say it’s only houses?

The other day, while my wife was in the yard tangling with the bermuda grass,  a lady pulled up beside the fence.

We had such lovely dogs, she said, such lovely, special dogs. Could she see them?

Fuck it. I don’t think moving will help this time.

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