Monday, September 19, 2016

Anything You Want

Baxter, a local picker, came into the yard last week; early afternoon and a day before the snow storm, with… five pick-up truck loads… he'd purchased from a long closed up colonial cape. I collected his story of the purchase during the delivery of the truck loads to our warehouse. He wouldn't let me go to the house until after the final load the following morning. Baxter is always coming around and first appeared in this blog with his pickle bottle find. Since then he's come around trying to find Mrs. Abbott's' chair but that's another story. I have tried to capture Baxter's purchase story just the way Baxter …spoke it… to me:

“I’M IN THERE NOW BY CRACKEY! I (Baxter) said.

"Actually I just said it to myself and made no noise. And very slowly pushed the first interior door forward.
Crackey by DAM-mit I been watch’en THIS ONE TEN YEARS plus. Lucky that’s all.

"I was coming out of one of the stores when this old bag caught me and wanted to know where “HE WAS” and pointed at the usually always open Old Books For Sale store next to the store I just popped out of with the “I JUST SOLD THAT” check in hand. I was leaving; going back to the sea of ANTIQUARIAN HUNT.
“Don’t know.” I said noting the no sign on the door saying WHEN I’LL BE BACK that he usually does. Crackey. So I said it was real unusual for him to NOT be open and to be closed NOW without a SIGN.
“Do you think he went to lunch?”
“Could have. But he usually leaves a sign”.

Bingo came next for one of the girls from another store down the street come out and lit up and started gesturing me so I went down leaving the old bag in front of the used book store. I add that by now I had found out she’d come to sell her books. Down the street I got bingo because the girl says “You know his mother just died”.
“About an hour ago. He was almost crying when he told me”
I turned back up the street to the old bag and said “I FOUND OUT WHERE HE IS! He’s gotta a good excuse.”
“BETTER BE!” she yelled back.
“His mother died.”
“Mother died?”
“Really. About an hour ago”
“That is a good excuse”.
“Devine intervention”.

So then we talked a minute and I looked at the books in her trunk and told her I didn’t want the books and she wanted some money so I hooked her to talking her house and I knew where the house was and I knew the neighborhood and suddenly had that mental light bulb that BELOW HER was THAT PLACE. So I said that. And she said yes. DID SHE OWN THAT? Yes. Want to let me in THERE?

That simple after all these years. Of course I never could figure out how to get into there since it was abandoned with no clear access and hung on a ledge above the water with no dock. I had the NEVER FIGURED SHE’D OWN THAT since her “home” was uphill by a near acre. But she DID own it. So we went there. In tandem, parking at her “HOME” and me expressly clear that NO I DON’T WANT TO GO IN THERE (her home) since it looked like “NO HOPE” for a rare antique in neglect in there ever since I’d been eyeing it (her actual house) TEN YEARS AGO. Or longer.

And there was no trail down the hill. NOTHING. Just a slopping over grown acre with some rusted remnants and a distant back door, a roof line of an 18th century center chimney cape UNTOUCHED and the cold Prussian blue of the river above that. Two windows though; 12 over 8 with the wavy old panes. “Original.” I said to myself. And early. Suddenly here I was going down to it, ALL BY MYSELF, after all those years with the “LET ME KNOW IF YOU see ANYTHING YOU WANT”. I dropped the case of the “see” from her “SEE” squawk for I was using the words “GET IT NOW”.

Can’t mess around when you hit the beach on D-Day and I’m going into that home. House? Home. Dead in the water it be for the past sixty-eighty-one hundred twenty years? “Yep” but still a home and the back door; the original back door, opened in without a fuss. Opened right in like it should for they never open out and into the fresh deep snow like they make’em now. “Ho, ho” and on to a dirt floor headed straight for the next door with a wood shed pile to my right. That’s in the dark for the one window is nearly covered. I stop and scan. I see wood pile with pile-on on top; old boards/boxes/bags/rope/wire/clutter affirming the SOMETHING-GOOD-IN-THERE look. Onward.

The next door is where I opened (this vignette) and BY CRACKEY I’m in there. Door opens in again and RIGHT up front the late morning light truly CASCADES in the two front windows to show me:

The plain wide pine floor.
The wainscot walls and piled up against it cram (noun).
The side window covered over with pile up.
The chairs and tables pushed back to the wall under the pack.
The traps, rope, boxes, buckets, floats, wire and heavy cotton duck
Gray from the mildew and salt,.
Mounded on top of the this and that,
All routed by a clear trail up the inner wall
To the front
There it turns left to the front door.

That’s all fisher/lobster/clammer gear; the piled on top. No problem for it ain’t in active use and be old enough to sell. Also there’s only enough for a one/two man endeavor; a small rig. AND:
My eye has moved on to THE TABLE just enough forward in the stack. JUST enough forward to have been paint-can-rest-on-it while “I PAINT” the floats and any other of the gear. THAT left about fourteen white enamel rings in the right fore corner on the top of a (not quite) knock out Hepplewhite taper leg bread board end totally original old red TAP TABLE.

I step to that and “good height” and skip my eyes around and don’t see any more cash cows so up to the front with a “look out the window at the river” glance and then to the front entry with front door closed but not locked and I open THAT inward and:

So suddenly that the light blinds me, the river breeze kicks me, the cold snaps me and the vista halts me. I am standing right out on the door sill with no more steps down and a ten footsteps to the ledge edge where the MIGHTY KENNEBECK FLOWS. The dock is gone. But did this place have river access or WHAT!

Blink, blink my eyes and then close the door and blink, blink again turning to find the anticipated boxed stairs up to the UP and so UP to a door again opening in and there I find dark turning dim with four panes of glass away at each end, the brick of the exposed center chimney to my front and a scattering of piled crud down both sides of the close quarters, unfinished “upstairs” and “UNDER THE EVES” of this “gotta be 1760’s” HOME. The rafters are pole logs with the bark still on ‘em. “Probably cut right here”. In 1750. The crud “LOOKS GOOD ENOUGH”. There’s a single small rope bed partially apart; a “hired man’s bed”. There a 1840’s one drawer stand. And crud. “GOOD ENOUGH” and back down stairs.

Into the adjoining front room. That door is partially open. More fishing stuff. Not too much and just piled around and two cheap 1880s oak pieces of furniture. Probably been more of that but “carried off” (stolen) “over the years”. Them takers rarely take the early stuff for it "don’t look antique”. Back through this room to the door at it’s rear. I don’t pay any attention to the giant fireplace; the original kitchen, nor the widows shedding shaded light. A wood stove pipe hole had been cut into the over mantle. The 18th century woodwork is natural finish; never painted. “JUST GREAT” but not likely something I’m gonna try and get. There’s an 1840’s drop-leaf table next to the door.

I open that door back on to me; see the step, am on dirt again and into another dim room with one window but whitewashed. Sparse, neat and tended this room shows only wall shelves with a here and there on ‘em and not much else except the AURA of I having just stepped into the UNTOUCHED “milk room” or “buttery" of old and I stop to take that in. A door to the right was once a window. That door is open. Beyond it an old ONE HOLE outhouse. It leans back; pulling, as a whole building, away from the main home. “Butted on” (literally) about Civil War. The bright light from the pulled-away crack obscures my view of the one-hole interior.

I leave. I go all the way around and back out the woodshed door. Total time elapsed has gotta be ten and no more than fifteen minutes since I left the TRUCK CAB. Up the hill, sun bringing the warm on my back. KNOCK on the door. Lady comes. I stand at the door:

“TWO fifty; TWO HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS for IT.” I take out the wade of money from my front jacket pocket and hold it out. “What I want down there: There’s wood and crap and fishing stuff. Clammers used it. THE FIREWOOD TOO! I want that. TWO FIFTY for what I WANT.”[1]
“Two hundred and fifty dollars. For in there?”
“Probably four truck loads. Maybe five with the firewood.”
“You’ll pay two hundred fifty for it?”
“Yes. Cash. Now and get it out. Probably can’t get it ALL today but most of it.”
She looks at me; my face. Then the wad of money. “It’s yours. Anything you want.”

[1] Baxter's commentary on this purchase offering: "I could put a whole damn page about what’s going on here but do I need to? Keep it simple and FAST. No words like “HEPPLEWHITE” but lots of words like “FIRE WOOD” and “CRUD”. NO TIME SPENT dolling up what you see; SEE IT, MOVE ON, SEE MORE, ACT. Act means say concisely what you’ll pay based on one’s gut of how little be a “configure”, (while your moving onward) that one will the “has to pay” (can get away with LOW), show ‘em the damn cash and LEAP. Leap like a man. Or say home and watch TV if you ain’t got the right stuff; fear landing in the river and “LOOSING IT ALL”.

[2] The table? He got it out in the first load. Carried it up the hill on the second trip, by plan. Put it up-side-down in the back, piled the first load on top of it.

[3] In all five loads; four that afternoon, one to "get the firewood" the next morning with an extra “go back with you” go over the whole place to be sure nothing is left. Baxter is right in not "bringing you there" until he has finished for "anything can happen at any time" to "screw the deal".

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