Snappish from the half cup of coffee and ‘half cocked’ conversation at Janet’s meeting (?), I went away (from my antiquarian trade) for the ...rest of the day.
It snowed that night. Six inches of light and dry snow. The snow was light and dry because it was very cold out. After the snow stopped, during the night, it became even colder. It was six degrees when I went outside to ‘see’ at first light. What I saw was what I had hoped to ‘see’. The snow ‘broomed’ off the truck easily. The snow plowed easily. Of greater note, one did not have to plow to ‘get somewhere’. The deep cold and light snow were... “Perfect.” I said to myself. I would be able to easily drive to Jed Somersby barn; “the ‘old barn’... ACROSS THE STREET”.
This barn, please recall (Part Sixteen [B]), was my current ‘clean out’ in progress and I had interrupted my work there to ...visit... Janet’s coffee table. I was nearing the end of the clean out so was ‘free’ of the bulk of the contents AND the crew that I hired to remove that bulk. I was down to the ‘only need my truck’... and ME... ‘in there’ TODAY... job status.
‘TODAY’ was originally intended to have been YESTERDAY but, snappish, I had correctly delayed and... bet on the cold and snow. I won the bet. I CAN get to the barn and ‘WORK’. BETTER... is that NO ONE will ‘bother me’ ...because of the snow and cold... for ANY ‘they’... including the Somersby heirs... will ‘figure’ ‘no one’ ‘will be there’ ‘TODAY’. This... job status... is especially sought by I... on each and every ‘clean out’; the LEFT... ALONE... ‘IN THERE’... job status. It is a harder to get ‘job status’ than one might configure. Should one ever be ‘cleaning out’ an ‘old barn’... one will VERY QUICKLY discover that one of the features of doing that ...JOB... is that... “EVERYONE” is constantly “COMING AROUND”... “to see” (to bug) YOU ...about... “EVERYTHING”. So here, on this February morning ...at ‘dawn’... AFTER a ‘snow storm’ AND with it ‘being freezing out’ (“wicked cold”) I had... ‘broken into the clear’ and ‘slipped them off my tail’. At least ‘for the morning’. It takes adroit skills to do this.
AND why do this; ‘be alone’... in an old barn... in the middle of February... in the middle of MAINE WINTER? For antiquarian hunter’s success... is why. The actual physical clean out of an old barn is a ‘large’ operation because ... it is a LARGE ...OLD... space that must be ‘clean out’. To fully clean it out...; to remove... EVERY ...THING... including every tiny slip of paper... that has been... put INTO the barn over... in this case ‘built 1832’ ‘the centuries’ by MANY, many people coming and going... putting in and taking out AND...NOT TAKING OUT... and ... ‘leaving’ ‘in there’... UNTIL I FIND IT and ‘take it away’. I... rummage (?), ransack (?), LOOT(?), pillage (?)... EVERY ...THING ‘out’ of ...THIS ‘old barn’.
Because... these ‘things’ are NOT ...distributed in an orderly manor WITHIN the old barn’s space... one (I) has to learn to concentrate VERY HARD and CAREFULLY... to be sure that one ‘finds everything’... before, in this case, the heirs ‘lock me out’ saying ‘time up’, ‘game over’, ‘your done’ and ... “GO AWAY”. NO HARSHER punishment be there for an antiquarian barn creep like I than ‘driving by’ an old barn I ‘creeped’ to ‘glance over’ and ‘know’ “I didn’t finish in there” (did not fully compete the clean out up to antiques seeking barn creep hunter’s ... self code of “DONE”).
So... parking my truck in the fresh snow with its ‘mine only’ NO OTHER fresh track in the snow... THREE FEET from the “I HAVE THE KEY” barn door and I... did broom away a little before the doors (includes my truck driver’s door) space to ‘stand’ and ‘maneuver in’... IS WHY I WAS DELIGHTED... as the cold sun rose over my shoulder to SHINE on that barn door... to ‘be here’ “ALONE”. I can “NOW” fully concentrate... ALONE... in this WONDERFUL OLD BARN that NO ONE has ever ‘creeped’ or even THOUGHT ABOUT creeping like the way I am ... about to CREEP IT.
OFF I went and... ‘IT ISN’T COLD’. I did a couple of possible spots that had bugged me; built in stall sets that ‘covered up’ earlier ‘spaces’. AND I started finding the soon constant dribble of “THINGS” that ‘had been missed’. Those, as soon as an arm load clutch formed, I ‘took to the truck’ and ‘hid’ the ‘better things. NONE of these things were knock out antiques discoveries; just ‘good’ and ‘neat’ little left over and missed THINGS that ...are exactly what I expect to, want to and DO find. I was happy. I was having fun. I wasn’t cold. I was applying skills that I had perfected from years of doing this and...
It was freezing cold ‘colder than OUTSIDE’ in there. It was dark. The ice wind hit the barn and made it creak. That ‘noises’ were the ONLY NOISES. Except my foot steps. My crouching. My pulling. My prying. My... ‘get in there’ imperative. MY... OBSERVATION.
This last is a deductive study of the space beginning from the minute I start the clean out and enter the barn with it ending only when the entrance door is ‘locked me out’. I look at all the physical structure and ‘build’ the barn and ‘build’ the barn’s history. In this barn... I study... The Enigma.
As one ages, one confronts a new enigma. ‘Setting’... ‘there’ ‘so it will not get lost’ (‘damaged, dropped, squished, scratched, hidden, forgotten’... et al) turns to enigma for one ...aging... as...: “Does ‘it’ ever become something OTHER than a ‘never getting it... again’?”. Old barns... especially the very old barns... are the repositories of this enigma’s ‘turned out to be’. They are ...wholly... a keeping ground of that enigma; the ‘setting there’ and the ...never getting it again. The scathing real of this enigma only becomes to one with self experience... as one, oneself, finds oneself... the ‘setting there’ and ‘...never getting it again’ of one’s own life. The old New England barn is the keeper of this ...generation after generation... embraced and expressed... enigma. I unlocked the barn’s door and went in.
I collected... here and there pitiful pilfers of petite set there... fell there... tossed there... broke there... hung there... abandonment’s... now curious ...ornaments of CENTURIES of...
And more of...
I took them all to my truck.
I loved each doing this.
EACH CENTURY of SONG they EACH sung to me; my eye, my fingertips. NO curiosity was dissatisfied by a ‘not known’ to me; a ‘what is THIS’. No... I knew them all; old friends of mine so ‘found in barns’. I, barn creeping, became RIP VAN WINKLE drinking timeless old New England barn BRINE. Gurgling the icy cold clear crisp ...dusty dirty... darkness hiding... NECTURE. MY HAT FELL OFF! My footsteps steady. MY KNEES HURT. Bending drunk with COLD FINGERTIPS REACHING OUT... OUT... out... ‘to that’: “A SPOON? A SILVER SPOON? HERE? HOW? Set down too... so it will not... get lost.
It did not.
I am the one
‘Getting it again’.
Trying again and again to tether; to tie myself up ... to this inside the old barn; to try to assure that I was breathing. HOT air out. Hoar frost on my hair. Heart beating. “IS IT BEATING?”. Or am I... dead. So cold dead moving alone in dirty dark pile after pile after pile of LONG AGES AGO ‘set down’. “NOW, NOW, now it is only THE COLD getting to you. NO IT IS NOT COLD. Getting you. CRAZY in here ALL ALONE with the very DEVIL HIMSELF that is YOU creeping in this ...GOD FORSAKEN old BARN”. Maelstrom. Ship wreck. Creaking roof top wind blown AWAY all senses of you are... just a ghost TOO of “Now wait: I see that; missed that HOW COULD I” but... I PLUNDER it. “TO THE TRUCK again.” And back. Up. Second floor? No... third floor. Feel it; colder even here... up here... way up here. Looking down over the floor lip. Once hay filled this NOW old ‘set there’ fills this SET DOWN to NEVER GET AGAIN until only I. That I am dreaming that I am walking in this... SO COLD alone wanderer in this barn full of PAST. “GO BACK THERE” and SEE more... in a box on an old ‘is that a’ board TO WHAT? “WHY DID THEY NAIL THOSE THERE?” “Answer.” “YOU CAN NOT ANSWER CAN YOU! WHY? BECAUSE IT IS I... INSIDE I... IN HERE TAKING IT ALL... away. This is not madness and I am not mad. I am not crazy. THIS IS NOT NICE. THIS IS CRAZY COLD IN HERE. AND I AM A CRAZY MAN ALONE ‘never getting again?” I am tethered to the barn. I am crazy.
“What is THAT (sound)! It’s a.... TRUCK! Whose truck? Just pulled in. Turned it off.
“HERE! Someone is HERE.
“Saw me; the truck... of course. STOPPING.
“Who...: FAMILY (one of the heirs). Probably. Checking. Saw my truck.”
The door ...way off below... opens with the light spill of that door’s opening light glowing off up front and down below my third floor perch like a FLARE ignited. Thumping boots enter followed with “HELLO IN THERE!”... (and MY NAME) YELLED. “TURN ON THE HEAT why don’t you. TURN ON A LIGHT.”
“There ARE NO LIGHTS.” I yell back into the dark space that is ‘that direction’. My mind is screaming ‘WHO IS THAT?” “I DON’T KNOW.”
“YOU UP THERE? WHERE’S THE STAIRS?”
“BACK. Center BACK.” I yell back. “WHO IS THAT?” again from my mind and I curl myself and roll to my knees to ...face the lip edge of the third floor and ...crawl on all fours to that edge to ‘see down’. Down there... to the first floor... coming back down that floor’s center... a man is walking with his... ball cap on... fleece jacket... on... Bean boots... breath showing... and looking up to... I eye to eye see him; the “who?” tthat is coming from below... is ‘Crap Pile’...
“IS HERE in MY BARN?”