He says ” I registering with the Adventure cycling group, think I’ll have it all finished, up and running for y’all bikers in a week. You feel free to take the road to the right when you get into town. Just be sure to turn off the water and remember, no fires. We’re in a burn ban right now. I don’t live there right now, but make yourselves right at home, set up your tent whereever you’d like.”
Our eyes were excited. His words–perfect. So we rode the 20 miles and turned right on the road he said, strolled up the path to his place. The place, hardly worth calling it something with a yard. Rocks, sand, cacti, a haven with metal stuff everywhere, old abandon cars, sheds with padalocks covered in rusted steel that was clanging as the wind blew. No trees. The house, old, rusted. Signs, random stuff scattered about. Almost unwalkable paths spidered around the place. An old steering wheel lay there next to seven old shovel heads and a pitch fork. Deer antlers lay piled up, glass bottles of all sizes sprayed the area.
We were taken back by everything, expecting something different from his description. Tim says “now heres the setting for ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” I start to feel uneasy about the situation but we sit on the recliner chairs outside the house and say “we can do it-it’s only for the night.”
BANG! Something hits the glass window from inside the house. We’d already checked out the house, competely locked up. I jump. Goosebumps rise on my arms. Tims holding a walking stick he’d picked up seconds earlier, stands and walks towards the window.
BANG! ”Dude, theres a bird stuck inside the house” My mind was racing. We wander around the property, seperately for a bit. I stay close to the bikes. I hear my name called slowly and with caution “Hailee, come here.” Haven’t heard Tim say my name like this ever before, I grab my phone and turn it on, camera was already in my had.
NO SERVICE. It’s what my phone said as I make my way cautiously around the back of the house to find Tim. I look up half expecting him to have found a rattle snake in some of the random piles of stuff. See him crouched over a pile of tin and what looks like a hole. It’s a hole in a cement slab, he’s looking down and into it. It’s stairs. What appeared to be an old cellar. Tim says “you’re not going to like this, you want to look?” Instantly “NO!” My head swivels, I feel eyes on me from all directions. No movement so I look back to Tim, hand him my camera “here take this, be careful.” He takes a few photos and hands it back to me, “look for yourself.”
A scared shock hit me. Frozen, I look up from the camera. A bed, a full room set-up below this slab of cement. In the middle of nowhwere TX of some random guys backyard who has his house all locked up with a wild bird trying recklessly to escape. Something from a murder mystery book I just read. Yet this…..real.
“This is freaky.” We slowly make our way back to the front of the house. My heart…..pounding so hard I could feel it in every part of my body. My head saying ‘I want to run-we have no where to run. I want to run fast, but I’m in flip flops.’ Still NO SERVICE showing on my phone. Awesome.
Tim calls my name again. This time he’s behind me only a few yards. He’s not moving, looking directly into the house through a window. I stand next to him and the walking stick in his hand. Happy that its still with us. He raises his arm and points to the white Christmas lights shining in the house. Again, we’re both silent. My memory is racing, didn’t that guy say he cut electricty and water to his house so he could re-do it? If that’s the case, why the powercord stretching into the house?
BANG! Bird hits the window again. Tim remarks “we defintely need to document this place.” So we start taking more photos. Walking around more stirred my imagination – what’s inside those plastic covered insallation rolls? Look down Hailee – watch for red on the ground – look for danger signs (other than the red flag already waving wildly in your head.) I snap some photos, keeping Tim in sight. Too scared to think straight.
I see another cement slab with fresh lumber on it – might be the best place to put the tent, we don’t have anywhere else to go. The sun sets in less than an hour, we’ve ridden 80 miles today. Sweep off the nails, beer caps and dust with an old strawbroom that was conveniently laying on the ground. As I’m noting all the cacti, I see across the desert yard a neighbor – another living soul. She’s out doing yard work, positive sign. I make my way to a clearer view, Tim’s somewhere looking in an old trucks window, makes me nervous when he does that. When he was looking into the house a few minutes before my mind had visions of glass breaking and chainsaws. I yell “Tim, I see a neighbor and am walking over, want to come” He scampers “YES!”
She knew him alright. Gave us the history on him and the creepy cellar room with a bed. After a few minutes of talking, she offered us her nice luscious green grass yard. We accepted before she asked. And slept under the stars, accompanied by her dog!
Passed the ‘yard’ again the next morning, happy to be alive, happy to never see that place again, happy to have seen the neighbor in her yard, happy happy happy that we never heard a chainsaw!