From Sugarhouse: Turning the Neighborhood Crack House Into Our Home Sweet Home by Matthew Bratt
We’re standing in the foyer. The walls are white. A shiny, hard, automotive white that would cover up nearly any kind of bad news from the past. For a while, anyway. The ceilings are high, and that’s an unmitigated plus, but the floors – they’re covered by carpets that look and smell like the oily, seepy mud revealed at low tide in industrial ports. At any time I imagine we could come across hypodermic needles, charred spoons, crack vials, spare tires, once-troublesome union organizers.
“Anyway, before that,” Stanley continues, “the wife and I lived in up until we had kids, and before that, my mother and dad lived in it, and before that my grandparents. They built it their own selves in 1911. Been in the family the whole time”, he says, distractedly, perhaps thinking of where to put one more room deodorizer.
I get the feeling that he goes through this spiel on a fairy regular basis, which is odd because I could have sworn he just put it up for sale. I might be getting to the point in the tour when the majority of prospective buyers succumb to nasal attrition.
He nods through a doorway to the living room. It has the same septic aura about it, but I keep telling myself that they’re both big rooms with tall, nine- or ten-foot ceilings. The one has a large south-facing window, the other has one too, as well as a curving bay-window on the east, through which you can see at leas the idea of mountains.
As Stanley tries to tell me about how he was tired of having to keep up to properties and whatnot, I am trying to tell myself: Look at the light. Look at the windows. Look at the ceilings. Look at all the room . But all I can see or hear or think is the smell. To make matters worse, Renuzit Super Odor Killers sit in the corners of both rooms, adding an imitation-berry tinge to the stench. I expect to turn a corner and find a commode filled with week-old Thai food, rotting fruit, and bad clams.
By turning myself toward the kitchen, I square-dance Stanley out of the living room and away from the hart-of-darkness carpet. There is, however, little in the way of consolation to be found. The kitchen smells like rubber cement and burning fiberglass, and wood veneer covers the cabinets, the drawers, the walls – I’m sure the avocado refrigerator is next. There is a latter against the wall and it’s just a matter of time before he gets around to paneling the ceiling. (pgs. 28-29)