The wine tasted a little funny, a little thick, but I wasn’t about to be a bad guest.
I use the word guest lightly.
I wasn’t invited into this house.
The only thing that could have kept me from entering was a simple, rusted lock that I picked with a screwdriver.
The corner of Uruslines and Royal was surprisingly quiet.
The sun was out but the shade seemed more at home here. It felt like, no matter what else was going on, this was a place for quiet.
I’ll admit, seeing him sitting there, after I broke into the house, scared the shit out of me.
The place had been boarded up for years.
But there he was, sitting in the gloom, a glass of wine in one hand and pouring me a glass with the other.
He motioned me to sit in a cloth draped chair.
Years and years people have been by this house. You are the first to enter. Why is that?
I explained who I was, the things I seek, the stories I tell.
He seemed interested, goading me for more information.
My grandfather would have liked you. He was a collector of stories. A collector of the strange. One of the things he passed down to me. I have this…thirst…for adventure, new experiences, knowledge.
He waved a gloved hand as if to say “you know what I mean.”
He apologized for having no food in the house, laughing that he wasn’t expecting a guest.
The wine made my head feel fuzzy, my tongue dry.
We talked about stories and story telling. Exchanging true tales and fictional ones.
We drank the wine and laughed.
I couldn’t tell what the time was. The room sat in semi-darkness.
He told me stories about lavish dinner parties, traveling Europe.
I told him stories about giant bugs, amorous cows and a dancing kitsune with a cute nose wrinkle.
I felt light and happy, swapping stories, drinking the strange wine.
The best stories are like a slow burning candle. A flicker of flame, dancing heat, melting away, and then a hidden charm revealed, sparking new life or love. Those are the best stories, the ones with that hidden piece that makes your heart glow.
It grew cold. I could feel the rain beginning somewhere outside.
The room smelled musty.
We told stories that made each other laugh, ones that made each other cry, and one that had him at my throat in a fit of anger.
We finished the bottle of wine. I stood on shaky legs and expressed my thanks, heading for the door I had entered what felt like days ago.
Outside, the rain drizzled. I took one last look at the large house. Everything looked brand new. The door was a bright red with no rusted padlock.
I could hear the sounds of a party from behind the boarded windows.
I smiled and gave the man a little wave, knowing he couldn’t see it anyways, and walked away into the rain.