Welcome to the house of Dr. Frankenstein. Come in, but be careful. Some original parts remain, but other corners of the house have come from other sources and lack a verifiable history.
It all began some 33 years ago when a contractor poured the foundation and had his workers assemble the kit house he had purchased in a steal of a deal. A family of four rowdy children moved in, scribbled on the walls, wore out the carpet, destroyed the vinyl floor under the computer desk and pretty much assured the house needed an ongoing uplift after 15 years of hard use.
At that point Dr. Frankenstein began his work.
He ripped up the skin of vinyl and carpeting covering the cement and replaced it with hard tile and wood flooring, all fresh from the lumber yard and big box store. It’s okay. It’s safe in here in the front of the house, but be careful when walking down the hall and into the bedrooms and bathrooms. They are not original; they come with a history.
Who knows what lies hidden in the bathroom floors? The owners only know that their daughter and her husband no longer wanted the flooring in the den of their recently purchased home. They just had to be rid of the stuff. With an eye to economy, the Frankenstein carefully removed the vinyl, measured and re-measured both bathrooms and made the flooring fit the two bathrooms. Sounds of children playing echo from the bathrooms at times, even though none live in the house.
Down the hall and in the bedrooms, a replacement carpet covers the cement slab with an even more elusive story. It came from a house with a fireplace. Embers popped and scorched the carpet near the fireplace. The insurance company agreed to replace every bit of the massive carpet. Frankenstein looked at it, saw its practically new condition and bought it for pennies on the dollar. He placed it into the bedrooms. Sometimes when a match is lit in a bedroom, the carpet stiffens and moves restlessly.
Last month at his bride’s request, Frankenstein agreed to put a laminate floor in the sewing room. Not new stuff, but laminate that originated in another house where frigid weather had grabbed a pipe on an outside wall and twisted it until it burst, spilling water that saturated the laminate flooring in the adjoining room.
The assessors declared it ruined, beyond repair and agreed all of the downstairs flooring would have to be replaced, just to be sure it matched. Like vultures the scavengers descended and picked through the leftovers to use in their own homes. Some of it came to the House of Frankenstein. It did not go quietly onto that old floor. Shadows of the past sprung up as scars, scuffs and stains. It would not settle into a smooth pattern until Dr. Frankenstein took after it with a saw and hammer. And now it waits, ready to reveal its secrets in dead of night.
Do not think that the danger lies only underfoot in the House of Frankenstein. Stay alert. Spare parts and pieces also hang overhead. Walk carefully under those chandeliers with the curvy ends. They did not come with the original house. They have replaced more sedate country-styled light fixtures that Frankenstein yanked out while still in their prime. The lights now hanging over the supper table come from a house deep in the woods. At times, on the stillest of days, they sway gently as if blown by a long forgotten breeze.
Tread quietly beneath the fan in the kitchen. Its blades appeared in a pile at a yard sale that the mistress thought Mr. Frankenstein might use to replace the cracked and worn blades the contractor used in the original house. They swirl smoothly over the daily fixing of meals – and yet at times the whiff of a long forgotten meal from another house emanates from them.
Move carefully through the house. Even in the laundry room the replacement of broken fixtures came from rejects. Sometimes when no one is around, the machines begin to walk across the room looking for an exit. Sometimes they vengefully smear perfectly white undergarments with pink or blue blobs.
And the porch swing – watch out. It used to be a couch frame. A couple times it has protested the insult to its original function and broken its link to the ceiling eye screws to unceremoniously dump folks just sitting and swinging.
So tread gently when entering the House of Frankenstein, with all the pieces that have been pounded, screwed and glued together, it holds the past of more than one family in a not so cohesive of a unit.
Joan Hershberger is a staff writer at the El Dorado News Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org