Part Three (v2): Character by indirection: describe a character by describing any place inhabited by that character, in the voice of involved author.
Her house seemed nice enough. Nice neighborhood, clean houses, bright sunshine draped across fresh siding and rooftops in good repair. Audially the environment had everything that could be desired: a bright and continual bird chirp to impress one with the closeness of nature; the distant bark of a dog, not a threatened animal but a domesticated beast simply happy to be alive on such a lovely day; the occasional roar of a motor and the rasp of rubber tires on pavement, just to remind the listener of man’s dominion over nature and the nearness of civilization, representing convenience and empowerment.
The shrubs below the front bay window were skillfully round, sculpted without appearing trimmed down, but rather bursting with a vegetal potence of their own like green and leafy balloons. They promised much, so orderly yet anticipatory, as though they were all in on a secret I’d yet to find out and which, they believed, would doubtlessly please me beyond reason. While the gleaming windows and siding were much subtler in their overture, they nonetheless supported the undertone of excitement only barely suppressed.
The front door swung easily on oiled hinges, with only a barking gasp of the wind flap reluctantly releasing its hold from the lower jamb. Dutiful and alert, the wind flap seemed to relish its post while acknowledging it was merely a cog in a larger machine, and now it had to endure a terse reprieve as we entered the house. How satisfied it must’ve been to once again fall into place and indulge in its role.
Her sneakers, muted upon the sidewalk, were more effectively muffled upon the carpet in the living room. There was a low-note of carpet plastics and a high-note of cinnamon/orange scented candle, faintly, while most of the atmosphere was dominated by a citrus-marinade pot roast. Reflexively my stomach grumbled: gently she boasted that it had been simmering for fully half of a day, set to cook before bed last night, but she acted as though she were in no hurry to cut the heat. Indeed, she barely heeded the pristine and spotless kitchen (so I noted), well-lit and orderly as though it were a model home being sold by an unusually fastidious agent with a hawk’s eye for detail. Rather, with the toe of one sneaker she stepped on the canvas heel of the other, shucked her shoe, then picked at the remaining heel with bare, animated, dexterous toes. Utterly silently, she shoved her foot gear to the side, next to the tall blue rain boots and the low, chunky hiking boots.
We entered the living room proper and she showed me around. Here was the hearth, practically, a large fireplace that burned real wood, intelligently located in the center of the room and nearly in the center of the house. Large gray stones, masoned breezily in place, might have come from Erin itself, in this inordinately cozy setup. A pile of chopped and dried logs dwindled on the left, while the brush/poker/shovel array stood with casual alertness on the right.
Upon the mantle, incongruous with the domestic complacence of the surrounding environment, pertly stood a row of vibrators dressed in the costumes of history and foreign nations. I made note of this even as she spun me around to see the L-sectional couch and the elegant glass coffee table. Upon the latter was displayed what at first looked like a carnival for fleas, but a second and third glance told me it was more like a military obstacle course for mice. Fixed upon the tubes and walls and basins and rough terrain was a small video camera. It was off. A flexible tripod was screwed into the bottom of it, the feet of which were taped to the table.
In the back of the room was a full wall of shelving, floor to ceiling, perfectly even cubbyholes. In each was a clear plastic bin that stood nearly flush with the bottom of the shelf above it, not a quarter inch of space. In these bins were tiny men, all naked, some curious, others shy and cautious, some yelling or bumping against the plastic, waving. Most had a pile of chopped vegetables and a small water dish, and some had small furniture or small pet toys.
Three bins were empty. One was withdrawn and I was placed within it. When the bin was replaced, I was unable to see what happened next, but I waited.
Photo by Imani Clovis on Unsplash