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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The House on the Hill; or, Hey. That Was Kind of Scary.

“Tell me a favorite story of yours that you haven’t told yet,” she says. 

I look off to the left, slightly upward, and think.  “I have one,” I say, “I don’t know if it’s my favorite or anything, but I have one.”

I take a drink of my Diet Coke, lick my lips.  “It was 1981,” I say, “and I was 19 years old.”

The House on the Hill

Art’s got a cherry car.

“What year is this?”

He walks to the hood, pats it fondly.  “1967 Camero Convertible.”

“It’s beautiful,” I say.

“Canary Yellow,” he says, “The color, I mean.”

I run my hand along the top of the driver’s seat.  “Is this leather?”

“Mm-hmm.”  There is a slight pause as he hits upon a thought.  “You want to drive it?”

“Me?  Drive this?”  I turn to look outside, past the open garage door.  It is late June, and Minnesota is postcard pretty, all blues and greens. 

There isn’t a cloud in the sky.

“Yeah,” he says.  “Why not?  You got a license.” 

I open the car door, throw my purse onto the front seat.  I turn to him, and he tosses me the keys.

The lakes are beautiful.   We crawl, 15 miles an hour, as is befitting the stature of the car, along with the other beautiful cars on the tree-lined, sunlight-dappled parkway circling Lake Calhoun.  Art leans over, touches my hair.

“Hey!” I laugh.

He straightens up, puts his back to the passenger seat, smiling.  “It’s pretty,” he says.

There is a heavy, rumbling to our right.  We both turn to look. 

“Halleluiah,” Art breathes.

“What is that?”

“That’s a 1967 Pontiac GTO.  360 horsepower.  Hey!”  Art leans toward the car.  “Great car, man!”

“Thanks, man!”

The light changes, and the two cars inch forward together.  There is talk of engines and paint jobs, glass etching and lift kits.  I ignore it all. 

I am awash in the feeling of the sun on my shoulders.


Art is talking to me.


“You want to go up to these guys’ place?  I said we would.”

I frown at him.  “Then what’re you asking me for?”

He grins.  “Follow them.”

And I do, follow them to some neighborhood somewhere on some street.  Who knows where it is?  Summer is here and the sky is so blue.

The Pontiac turns right and up a long driveway.  I pull over at the front of the house.  The yard is large, surprisingly large for the city, and slopes upward to a house.  It is a plain house with a large porch at the front.  It is beige, or maybe white. 

I stare at it.

And Art stares at me.  “Are we going up?”

“You go,” I say. 

He gives me a look, then shrugs and opens the door.  I watch as he trudges up the front yard, as he mounts the porch stairs.

A heaviness has settled on my chest.  I watch as they talk, as the men from the GTO point in my direction, watch as Art shrugs.

My father tells the story of driving in a blizzard in the late 50s, hours of dark, lonely road with nothing but the driving snow hitting his windshield, a one-colored spinning kaleidoscope.  After coming close to falling asleep, he spots a man’s open hand coming toward him, flying down the road, larger and larger until the hand is directly in front of the car.  And so he did, my father will tell you, exactly what the hand commanded.  He pulled over, and he slept two hours under the backseat blanket he kept for just such an occasion.

And I am reminded of my father as, before my eyes, a shadow falls over the porch and everything and everyone on it.

The sky is blue. 

The porch is dark. 

Art is on the porch, and he is nodding.

He trots down the sloping front yard.

“Hey!  Pearl!  Come on up.”

I shake my head.

He leans on the passenger’s door.  “They want you to come up.“

“No,” I say.  I shake my head.  “There’s something weird up there.”

“You can’t just sit out here.”

“I can,” I said.  “And I will.”

Art is taken aback.  “What’s going on?”

I shake my head again, serious as death.  “I can’t go up there.  I can’t explain, but I can’t and I won’t and if you try to make me go up there I will dig in my heels and try to pull one of your eyeballs out.”  My mouth goes dry. 

“Whoa!  Whoa!”  Art laughs.  “OK, OK, I get it.”  He looks up toward the porch.  “Yeah, I don’t care.  I’ll just go up there and tell them we’re takin’ off.”

I start the car as he lopes to the house, then turn to dig through my purse for the stick of gum I hope is there.

There is a murmur of voices – wheedling, insistent voices that get louder, louder until --   


I look up.  Art is charging down the hill. 

He climbs into the car.  “Burn rubber, baby. They can get bent.”

I don’t need to be told again, and I don’t look back.  “Bent?” I say, pulling away.  “Why can they get bent?”

He is breathing heavily.  “They didn’t want me there, they wanted you there.  I mean, they didn’t really say anything I can put my finger on, but I don’t think those guys were right in the head.”

I can feel him staring at the side of my face.

“What did they want?” he says.  “Pearl.  Was that weird?”

I shake my head.  “We’ll never know what it was,” I say.   

And I shudder.


Shelly said...

I am ever thankful you heeded that inner warning. Something bad was awaiting and Art was a fool to expose you to it. It makes me shudder, reading it.

joeh said...

Fortunately you have "Pervdar."

vanilla said...

Evidence once again that premonitions are to be obeyed. Good for you.

Marty Damon said...

Good thing that hand was there for you, too.

Anonymous said...

You did the right thing. Always trust the messages from the universe.

Joanne Noragon said...

The gut knows when it's a hinky situation. Trust the gut.

Daisy said...

Thank goodness you trusted your intuition or the guardian angel that was watching over you, perhaps.

Linda O'Connell said...

Oh yeah, rip those eyeballs and burn rubber...you did the right thing. Always listen to your intuition.

jenny_o said...

Weird doesn't begin to describe it. Weird, frightening, dangerous, that's only a start. Thank goodness you stuck to your guns, and that Art was - if not the brightest light in the string - at least an honourable guy and listened to you.

You sure can tell a story well. My heart rate went up!

Eileen B said...

As Han Solo said as he stood in the trash compactor, "I've got a bad feeling about this."

Jono said...

That was the day you learned to drive fast!

Elephant's Child said...

Trusting the gut is never wrong.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
...and The Force was with you. Pretty sure it still is... YAM xx

Catalyst/Taylor said...


River said...

What they all said^ up there. Thank goodness you trusted yourself.
I googled for images of those car styles and have to say the Camero is a nicer looking car. The front grille on the Pontiac looks like it is frowning at me.

Gigi said...

Women should always trust their intuition...it's rarely wrong.

Geo. said...

Good Lord! You did everything right except let your passenger climb up to that porch. Who knows what was inside that house beside banjos and mummies?

Sioux said...

Pearl--I think you narrowly avoided getting gang-raped.

Lucky girl you were...

Buttons said...

Trusting your gut is always the best. It looks like someone is looking after your family that is for sure.Hug B

Rose L said...

Good thing you got your butt outta there!!!!

Watson said...

Our inner "voice" is often right...glad you listened Pearl. Now I have to wait til my heart stops pounding so I can go to bed! You've had some close calls gal.

Amy said...

Well, I won't be getting back to sleep soon! Scarier than this story is the fact that I have a teenaged daughter who trusts everyone.