Short Stories. House the House by Lance Manion. Another perfect story for a perfect Sunday. Art is everywhere!
House the house.
When I tell people that I have a dull house they assume I am talking about the grey paint color on its exterior.
They are wrong, but understandably so. You see, apparently I’m a “house whisperer” and I’ll be the first to admit that it is a gift you really don’t want to go around advertising. When people ask if by dull I mean the paint I nod and say “Yes. The paint color. That’s exactly what I mean.”
But it’s not.
I say it’s dull because houses do not have senses of humor. I learned that the hard way. I asked my dwelling if nails hurt. The heat shut off for two days and I almost got hypothermia.
My house talks to me through the heating and cooling ducts. Any time they are in use my house talks to me. The air passing through the vents allows it to take on a whispering tone and it’s easy for me to see where a lot of haunting legends got their start.
I wish it were that easy.
Most of our chat are dull and revolve around mundane topics but occasionally we’ll get involved in a deep conversation that goes on for hours. Last summer we had a debate about consciousness that went on the better part of an entire afternoon and by the end of it I could see my breath and the windows were covered in frost.
One of the downsides of engaging an entity that has to communicate through air conditioning.
The house was telling me, in much greater detail than was necessary, that humans and most other animate objects have a very strong bias against the inanimate. A bias that stops them from understanding that consciousness rubs off, that was about as scientific as the house could phrase it, when the animate and inanimate spend enough time in close proximity.
I wouldn’t have believed a word of it weren’t for the fact that those words were coming up from the vents of my residence.
Whether it is a tree fort or a ship, it’s not the lack of trying that stops these objects from talking. It’s only that humans don’t pay any attention.
I argued that a conclusion like that sounded very arrogant and my heat shut off and didn’t come on again for a week despite my endless fiddling with the thermostat and shaking my fist at the walls.
When people tell me that their heating and cooling systems are temperamental I only laugh and say “You have no idea.”
My domicile has never answered, to my satisfaction anyway, why it is that it can turn the air and heat on and off at will but can’t be bothered to lock the doors after I leave, strobe the lights a little when I’m listening to my Saturday Night Fever CD or open the garage when it sees me pull in.
“Get a garage door opener” is its only response.
How does a house even keep up with such technological advances?
I once asked my abode if houses are scared of dying. It answered that it feared the wrecking ball the same way I feared a heart attack, which led me to ask if hotels have one consciousness or each room has its own. I asked because I suddenly had that footage of an old casino being imploded in Las Vegas run through my head and I wondered if behind the noise of the explosion a thousand rooms wailing away and crumbling into non-existence sounded in any way like a thousand bubbles bursting at once.
I later found out that each room does indeed have a unique personality, as I spent a sleepless night at a Best Western listening to schizophrenic suites bicker among themselves.
“Do houses in France speak French?” I once queried. That’s how I first knew that houses had no sense of humor. I marched around using my best French accent for the next half hour and didn’t get one snicker. Perhaps it’s related to the fact that houses don’t perceive things as right or wrong, only sound and unsound … although it did admit that it enjoyed a good coat of new paint now and again and that when I cranked up Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side” it made its pipes drip.
I told it that the song has the same effect on me.
Common ground is important when you’re living inside something else. Perhaps it will remember that little moment we shared and decide to turn the air back on soon.
It’s been off since I asked it “If a man’s home is his castle, are castles stuck up?”
No sense of humor at all.