The old man must’ve driven past it a thousand times in his life. Old house on the west side of town. Tall grass, never mowed, with weeds in the flower beds. Chipped white paint on the front and sides. Shingles falling. It’d been like that since he was a kid. Nobody ever lived there. Nobody knew who owned it. He just knew it was old and falling apart. Just like him.
He stopped his truck one day while passing by. Parked it on the side if the road. The old man was finally going to see what was inside. See if it’s guts had been neglected all these years. Like his.
Upon opening the front door with a slight push, a hundred bats fluttered from the attic. They flew down to greet the old man. They made a terrible noise. Screeching, yelling out for their souls. The old man was guilty of this calling out for salvation when he got too drunk to stand. He understood the bats. They seemed to talk to him. Warning him of an end coming soon.
Cobwebs filled the corners of the ceilings. Dust was on the hardwood counter tops and cabinets. The fireplace had gray ashes in it. Wood that was burned long ago. Maybe by some rich family, the old man thought. Could’ve been a son that gathered the firewood, he whispered.
Pictures hung on the dingy white walls. Old framed black and whites of women wearing fancy dresses and men in fine suits. There were pictures of children sitting in a parlor. Sitting on an old sofa that looked Craftsman like. He shook his head and walked up the spiral staircase. Opening doors to rooms where people once slept, dreamed. The old man often dreamed. Had visions of paradise.
Old wood floors creaked as he walked into each room. Carefully he watched his steps. Sunlight poured through windows showing a light that called out to him. I’ve been here before, the old man said. All this is familiar. I had a family once, he laughed. Once.
In the master bedroom was a king size bed with a canopy over it. He took off his shoes and laid down on the old mattress with holes in it. Rats scurried out from underneath.
The old man rested with his green eyes open. He stared out the windows as the sun began to fall. I’m home again, he smiled. After all this time. I’m home again.