Some people are stupid. Really stupid.
The house sits next to the little park at the center of our town. Right on the corner, across from the basketball court. The morons were cooking meth in the garage.
Meth smells nasty. All ether and burning and chemicals that should not be put together and heated. It’s not a normal smell. Because they were cooking in their garage, a neighbor took a whiff and called the sheriff. They might as well have been cooking out in their backyard.
They got busted. They went to jail. They got out on bail.
Within two weeks, they were doing it again. Again, the neighbors smelled it. That was the end of that. They were renting, or staying with whomever was renting. The landlord didn’t kick them out after that first arrest.
The house stood empty for a while. You could see a dusty candle on a stand, a pencil sharpener, a ceramic dog on a shelf through the front window.
There was a sticker on the door shouting it was unsafe for human occupancy. Unlike many counties in this part of the country, ours has enough money to have someone who goes around putting stickers on doors to warn potential occupants that someone has made a toxic mess of things inside. Some places, you hear of people buying trailers or beat-up houses and not knowing about the meth, until they all get sick. There’s no one in the county to go around and tag the drug sites.
The house went on the market. The price was low, and the buyer seemed to know the history. A rolloff appeared, and out came every bit of plaster and drywall. They took it down to the studs.
Then they stopped. The rolloff disappeared. No one has been there in over a year. Inside, the bones stand stark, suggesting rooms. Someone mows the lawn, covers the windows as they break with plywood. Every once in a while, the door to the cellar will wind up open somehow. Eventually, someone comes and closes it.
The peonies still bloom each spring, planted by someone in another time, in a different town.