Inspiration for my book The House in Banes Meadow

I’m a packrat and have been one since childhood. I once carried, pushed, rolled and tugged a fifty-five gallon drum for over two miles in the summer heat with visions of hidden treasure sealed inside. I was right! If your idea of treasure is a couple of gallons of crude oil. (We used the barrel for a burn barrel, so it was not a totally wasted effort.)

When I first “discovered” the two story abandoned house that had been there since the dust bowl days, once again visions of found treasures danced through my head. I searched the first floor and found nothing except a very dark cupboard off the kitchen. It looked a lot like a snake den, so I just poked my head inside and went on looking around the place. In the living-room there was a massive natural stone fireplace with stairs that went behind it leading to the second floor. Upstairs there were four empty bedrooms and two more steps up to a door going to the attic.

Just before my hand touched the doorknob a feeling of dread washed over me. Back then I wasn’t “chicken”, but I did have henhouse ways. I left in haste.

For a couple of days my mind was occupied wondering what lay behind that door. Was it pirate booty, millions of dollars stashed by some long departed miser? But how to get past the obvious spook who guarded it … Then it came to me ! My cousin Raymond !

Raymond was a couple of years older than me, but was rather gullible in his youth. I looked him up and told him, “I found this old house, but haven’t gone inside as I was saving it for us to explore together.” (I was known to stretch the truth a bit back then) “Let’s go there in the morning and you take the upstairs. There may be a staircase beside the fireplace and once upstairs if you see a door leading to the attic, check that out too. Oh and Raymond? Bring your rifle.”

 We got there around ten the next morning. Raymond goes upstairs and as I had already searched the first floor, I sit down on a window sill and light up a smoke I had “borrowed” from my grandmother.

Upstairs I hear Raymond clumping around in each bedroom. Then silence.

“Raymond?” I call. No answer. I called again. Still nothing. After the third time, I’m getting concerned. Why doesn’t he answer?

“Raymond!” I yell. “I’m coming up those stairs and if you jump out and scare me, I might shoot you!”  Nothing.

In my best Sergeant Saunders from the TV show “Combat”, I charge up those stairs ready to wage war against the Nazi horde that held Raymond hostage.

I come to a screeching halt when I see Raymond on the first step, his hand on the doorknob of the door leading to the attic. I ask him what’s wrong. No answer. I step beside him and his eyes look at me, then at the doorknob, then back at me again. I realize that he is frozen in fear. Not wanting to touch him with the bare skin of my hand incase I get frozen too, I kick his hand off the doorknob. As soon as he’s free he yells “Get the hell outta here!” He runs down the stair in such a hurry he forgets his rifle leaning against the wall. I snag it on the run and find him waiting in the yard. As we were outside anyway, we thought it best to postpone any more exploration for another day and went home.

Years later a tornado took the second floor off the house. Scattered across the pasture was old trunks, clothing and broken furniture. All the things a young treasure hunter would love to find.

But yuh know … To this day I believe that there was something in that attic that didn’t want any kids messing around.

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