The city would be building a new road, and it was my job to scout out the path and assess how difficult it would be to clear it. Aside from trees and brush, I discovered only one thing in the way. A tiny, dilapidated old house still rested peacefully along the intended roadway. It was crumbling down and would pose little resistance to a bulldozer.
I didn’t hesitate before climbing in through a broken window. I have always been fascinated by deserted places.
I found little of value but much of interest. A waterlogged mattress sagged on a collapsing bed. A rusted sink lead to exposed pipes. The linoleum floor peeled back in places to reveal a rotting wooden floor. Doors hung askew on loose hinges.
I wandered through it, and my imagination roamed, too. Someone lived here. Slept on this mattress. Washed dishes in that sink. Walked along this floor and through these doors. A couple talked to each other about work or the kids while having dinner. For a time, their world revolved around this place.
I rummaged around and turned up a small painting, a broken mirror, a few old soda bottles, and two books: The Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe and a novel, The Twin Serpents. I kept the books.
Sometime over the last twenty years, I lost the Poe book, but The Twin Serpents still rests unread on a shelf in my office. I do not know whether reading it would disappoint or thrill. I keep it as an unexplored world, an abandoned place that I may visit someday when I am unable to explore empty houses.