Three Houses Near A Crossroad Essay, Research Paper
On a tall slender post two signs peacefully announce that this is the inter- section of Willow and Hill streets. Actually Willow stops here, although some think’ it continues down the driveway of the rusty brick house, straight ahead Late one summer, the pretty college sophomore who lived in that house with her brother and divorced mother, stopped using the driveway. The fraternity to which the boy belonged with whom she was riding was suspended after the accident. After that, one could occasionally see the same strange car parked exactly half- way up the driveway at different hours of the day. This lasted for about three weeks. Then the bereaved divorcee married her doctor. From that time on the car always moved up to the left port of the two-car garage; nevertheless she still had cocktails with her lunch, a habit acquired since her daughter’s funeral.
The driveway was flanked by irregular rocks off which the elements had worn most of the white paint. The sounds of metal scraping against these rocks had become more frequent, and the house looked quite sad, almost out of its mind. In the evenings, there were often shrill laughs and painful screams. The house shuddered and grimaced, as windows, blinds, and sometimes shutters were closed.
Now the house has surrendered. It sits like a docile, rusty old dog, dead in a great shaggy nest of weeds and tired trees. No one has forgotten the morning when the driveway had an ambulance turn into it, gleaming in the early sunshine and driven by a man with bared eyes; when he had closed the rear door, the driver and his attendant backed the ambulance out into the street and drove up past the handsome row of houses, like Charon.
Across the street from the rusty brick house is another, much larger one. The woman who was married to the elderly, crippled investor had envied the courage of the woman who had lived in the rusty brick house. But poisoning one’s husband could have many disastrous repercussions, aside from the fact that it demanded so much courage. When the envious woman and her husband had moved into the large house, it was yellow brick. Her hair was blonde; therefore the house was painted white. No one thought it would look right with its new color; however, everyone was surprised to see the attractive, cheerful aspect the house had acquired. The envious woman would entertain on an indiscriminate scale, always having her husband wheeled out of the room at ten o’clock, and always waiting for him to die. However, one day the parade of cars belonging to the perpetual guests moved down the street, an elegant caravan, headlights shining in the afternoon sunlight. The crippled husband was too weak to attend his wife’s last rites. One would imagine that he probably sat before a window that day, musing over the orange, green, and brown leaves performing colorful pirouettes in the autumn breeze. The lawns were always well kept, and the lady across the street didn’t mind if the mailman took a short cut over hers. The only eyesore was the house where that woman had completely lost her senses.
On the day his wife was buried, if the old man had moved his wheelchair to a northeast window, he would have seen a young man pulling a large black rake over the leaf-littered grass. The boy lived across the street, in the rambling house next to the one on the corner. The rambling house bespoke wealth distributed so as to be quite obvious to all who passed by. In fact it looked like a very happy house. The broad double walnut doors leading into the outer reception hall were framed by two large wrought-iron pots containing ivy that grew up around the doors like a gothic lattice. The windows were always sparkling in the late afternoon on the western side. Behind the house, the yard was terraced on two levels with gardens arranged on each. When the weather permitted, the boy’s mother would hide her drooping body next to the tall hedge where she could lie in the sun unobserved in unbecoming shorts and halter. In the evenings she and her husband would return from a party rather drunk. Their fights were horrible to listen to; the lights in the house made the windows stare like glassy eyes in the darkened street as vituperations would echo through the night. One would think they argued- because the boy was a deaf-mute. I don’t really know; the fact remains that when the boy was raking leaves, he stepped off the curb to fill a basket sitting on the edge of the street. He never heard the automobile turn the corner, honk frantically, and grind the pavement as it gripped it bit by bit to a stop.
From that time on the elderly cripple had professional gardeners rake his leaves, and the woman with the drooping body and her husband stayed home more often and slept more soundly; and he never again told his wife that she would drink herself to death like the cripple’s young wife, or poison him either.
There are other houses, of course, on Willow and Hill streets. But if you see two or three, you’ve seen them all. The tall, slender signpost always represented, to me at least, the junction of one road with another, where one could go straight without trespassing. Someday they might cut a street through that driveway belonging to the rusty house. However, it’s rather unlikely, and until they do, people will always have to turn right or left off Willow.