Finding open and unlocked doors is easy
crossing over their thresholds is the hard part.
Still, no matter where we go take care that
THE HUMAN REMAINS
A story about a threshold by
Ciaran Gargiulo lives two miles up the road from The Barker House.
The Barker House, which has been quietly rotting away into the dust for over 50 years was born abandoned, nobody ever lived in it, nobody ever wired it for electricity or gave it a house number. It was built, it was put up for sale and that was it.
” It’s just sitting up there, ” Ciaran’s Grandmother said one morning, ” pretending to be like the rest of the houses around here. “
Ciaran, who’s mother was a Mortician and his Father who was killed by a crazy man who was convinced Bran Gargiulo was a werewolf and shot him between the eyes on Halloween Night 15 years doubted that anybody or anything would want to be like the people or the houses ‘around here’.
” Yeah. You know Gran, I’m not so sure that’s true. I’m curious though, who were the Barkers? Did they own the land or build the place?”
Bedelia sighed and thanked the lord her Grandson was so cute because heaven knows he wasn’t the sharpest tool in Gargiulo Shed ” The Guzman’s owned the land and they built the house too- just like the rest of the houses around here.”
” So why is it called The Barker House?”
” That house is barking mad, that’s why. Honestly Ciaran, you ask the strangest questions sometimes.”
Just then Ciaran and his Grandmother heard a car start up and they watched as his sister pulled her car out of the gararage. When she got to the front of the house where they were she turned and waved to them with her right hand which was missing three fingers.
Ciaran rememered that morning when Imee woke up to discover her missing fingers. She had cursed and stomped her way down the stairs and when she got to the kitchen she demanded that everyone ” look at what that Crazy House went and did this time.”
Their Mother hadn’t even flinched when she turned around and saw Imee was standing in the doorway with her almost fingerless hand .” I guess I should be glad it didn’t take my head.” Imee had yelled between some nasty words.
” Really?” Ciaran said said to his Grandmother, ” I think I don’t ask enough of those, if you want to know the truth.”
Ciaran was glad, in a way that the Barker House hadn’t taken anything from him, though he guessed one day it would.
After all, to date, the house had taken his sister’s fingers, the key to his father’s coffin, his mother’s collection of Glen Miller records his Grandmother’s pacemaker ( and she took her sweet time getting it replaced because she didn’t want to explain to outsiders where it had gone ) and around the town of Felonwood it had taken musical instruments, a piano, Roller Blades and even a skateboard.
Nothing that house did made sense, which is why everyone said it was crazy and nobody had ever actually gone into it to retrive the stolen posseesions. ” O h sure, ” Imee had said ” Like I want to go into that house and get my fingers and Grans pacemaker back. You couldn’t pay me enough money to look at those things let alone touch them.”
” But Imee, it took your fingers…” Ciaran had said.
Imee sighed and told him, ” It could have been worse Ciaran, you know that.”
But he didn’t.
So one afternoon, when it was hot and dustier then usual Ciaran was walking by the Barker House, which is something he had taken to doing on a daily basis when for the first time in years he stopped and walked up the grassy path to the front door.
To be more specific he walked up to where a door should have been hung, but there wasn’t one.All there was was a dark hole where a door could have been but wasn’t and as he walked over the threshold he didn’t wonder, even for a second what he was doing.
There were two floors in the Barker House, Ciaran discovered, and on each floor each room was full of tables and on each of the tables were bits and pieces from the lives of the people who lived in Felonwood.
Ciaran moved from table to table touching buttons and match boxes, broken toys and eyeless dolls. He picked up and set down books and pictures in frames and rusty nails and bunches of keys still attatched to their rings and tacked to the wall, next to a window that looked out down the road to his family’s house was a newspaper article.
Ciaran flinched and turned away and then he turned back to the window and walked up to the clipping and pulled it down from the wall and kept reading the same word over and over again:
Reported Missing August 5, 1984
Last seen leaving his family’s place of business, The Felonwood Cemetery and Funeral Home
and then that word came up again and again
” But I’m right here. ” Ciaran whispered down on the article, ” I’m right here.”
Ciaran folded the newspaper clipping in half and put it into his back pocket and when he turned around he saw a man standing next to one of the tables and he said” I’m right here…” in Ciaran’s voice.
Then he heard that voice in his head and he saw that word flashing up at him:
and from earlier in the day he remembered his sister telling him how lucky she was The Barker House only took her fingers and he guessed she was right.
You could live with missing fingers, you couldn’t live when the part of you that made you alive was gone.
Ciaran turned and walked out of the house and down the path to the road that led back to his house with the newspaper story and questions.
Lots of them.
A few minutes later, from the darkness in the Barker House the man with Ciaran’s face leaned against the wall and and said to the house, ” He’s going to come back for me you know. He can’t really live without me and he knows that now.”
and then for the first time ever….
The Barker House had a nightmare instead of being one.