8/1/2022 0 Comments
When my father died, few townspeople knew of his curious double life, nor suspected what an astonishing inheritance he would leave me. Blessed with a sixth sense for hidden bargains, he leased a building that stood vacant for half-a-century, a charnel house where the bones of women accused of witchcraft were kept.
Though his shopkeeper’s sign was the standard three sphere symbol for pawnbrokers, that was strictly his public persona. Only I knew that it was those secret cement tunnels under the woebegone clapboard structure that amassed his fortune.
With my inheritance and inbred instincts for turning trash to gold, I acquired an ugly empty house on a dead end road. Though the fancier name is “cul-de-sac,” dead end suited it better. Lonely, dilapidated, and rumored to be haunted, it was snapped up at a discount. An architect and his stage designer wife transformed it into my Bed and Breakfast: Kingdom by the Sea. Technically, it overlooks a meandering river. Nor was it “a kingdom.” But haters gonna hate.
During that formidable snowfall in 1990, when the fancy roof of my Widow’s Walk began to cave in, it was obvious that a jack-of-all-trades had to be retained for ongoing maintenance.
It was shortly after Christmas that he, dishonorably discharged, introduced himself to me. He claimed he’d shield me from the “Tyranny of Ordinary.”
I replied, “Can you clean drains, fix pipes with a mortician’s care?”
“Winged seraphs,” he sighed, adding, “Sounds dreamy.”
Handsome though he was, he wasn’t in touch with reality, describing my inn as a sepulcher. Since this is Unpleasantville, the morbid term eluded tourists. Still. It rankled me.
Eventually, his nihilism had reached the nth degree, always contemplating mortality. A swell mechanic, sure, but his morose mindset was only fit for poetry.
Five years later, Hurricane Ophelia uprooted my cypress trees, chilling and killing my monthly income by the sea, chilling and killing my prized B and B. By then, my property appeared on the newly drawn flood maps because the river was sidling up my lawn after the winter thaw.
While sweeping up the branches, leaves, and non-compostable debris, we disagreed. Storm winds rushed me into the sounding sea.
How strange. He’s been going around town calling me “his bride.” He tells them he “sees my bright eyes,” and he mourns by my sepulcher built near the sea.
Though my days of bartering with plumbers, raccoon trappers, and exterminators are over, my ghost has to cope with tourists reading my extravagant epitaph in iambic pentameter aloud.
Famous now, he’s published by FSG.*
** FSG = Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
LindaAnn LoSchiavo is an American freelance journalist, poet, playwright and dramatist from New York City. Her critically acclaimed books include her recently-released "Women Who Were Warned," 29 poems about women from girlhood to womanhood. She also co-authored with David Davies "Messengers of the Macabre: Halloween Poems." LoSchiavo has written plays, including Courting Mae West and a documentary film on Mary Louise Cecilia "Texas" Guinan.