Some people swore that the house was haunted. I didn’t believe them, and neither did John, who by the time we met, was almost finished writing his book “The Writ.” To him, the house was a source of inspiration. To me, it was an excuse to leave town for the weekend.
I wasted few words with John when we first met, like a public defendant first meeting his client. We knew what the score was, and took things pretty seriously until it was all said and done with. My story didn’t start at the house, like John’s perhaps, but it did end there, wrapping up a three-day visit in regards to his upcoming novel.
Arriving forty minutes late to his pre-release party, I drove up the long stretch of gravel driveway to find John talking to an attractive couple on the porch, laughing about something out of earshot. His antics humored me as I waited for an opportune time to interrupt.
“Fred, you made it! Marsha, Todd, this is Fred Deblin, an old friend of mine from Mississippi State.” He checked his watch and soured his face. “What happened, Fred? Did you get lost again?”
“Sadly, yes. For some reason, my Garmin doesn’t think this place exists.”
“That’s not surprising. This area has been off the grid for years.”
“Yeah, it’s too bad,” said Marsha, who looked like a young Nancy Pelosi, “this land has real potential.”
“Farmers could make a lot of money here,” said Todd.
“Criminals could do even better if you ask me,” said John to a bout of laughter.
“You really think so?” I wasn’t convinced.
“Oh yeah, think about it!” And we did think about it, the lucrative rackets that could make use of a run-down mansion like this in the middle of nowhere. The other guests revolved around our conversation, and everyone had their say.
By the time the party ended, it was after one in the morning. Most of the other guests had left by this point, and John was outside seeing off the rest. I was left to my own devices, and decided to explore the run-down house that John had fancied so much. When I was in the kitchen earlier, I didn’t notice a peculiar smell that now overpowered my senses. With drunken curiosity, I searched out the source, thinking it was some sort of spoiled food or laundry hamper.
When I found the marijuana plants in his pantry, John had already returned to the house. He saw me in the kitchen, staring slack-jawed and still, but I had yet to notice him. He casually walked towards me, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Does this bother you?”
“No, it doesn’t bother me. I’m just surprised.”
“These things can do that. Do you want to hang out?”
“Sure.” And before we retired to the now-empty living room, John plucked two grape-sized buds from one of the plants. The stereo was playing “Susie Q” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and we proceeded to write the epilogue of my human interest piece over a joint, shedding red light on an author I had a profound level of respect for.
We easily spent the next hour and a half talking about the future of literature in modern society, and despite our mutual lack in confidence, we were humbled by the thought of more intellectual generations to come. Any rumors that came to pass about John and his habits would stay unconfirmed. Between him and me, however, nothing was ever the same again after that.