Thursday, December 4, 2014

She Everywhere 2: Return to the Raccoon House

Earlier this year, I thrilled dozens with the story of how I learned that a woman in my neighborhood was apparently devoured by raccoons. Yes, the devouring happened posthumously, but that adverbs saps a bit of the power from the phrase “devoured by raccoons,” doesn’t it?

Today I present to you a new chapter in the “She Everywhere” saga that involves avocados and more hyper-local urban legends.

For most of the end of summer, I was tearing out my front lawn to replace it with plants that require less water. One day, when I was barefoot and covered in dirt, a nice gay couple pulled up. Both the guys were about my age, and they came bearing a grocery bag of avocados, because that’s how you make a grand, neighborly gesture in California. They explained that they’d seen me working in the yard and wanted to welcome me to the neighborhood. I asked where they lived and they said they lived just nearby — “in a house around the corner.”

“Is it the white one with all the plants in front?”

They said that it was. And at that moment, I knew I was talking to the very “two guys, no wifes” that had moved into the Raccoon House. I didn’t say anything about it. There’s no graceful way to ask that one: “So is it true that the previous owner was ripped to shreds in your backyard?”

They left, and those avocados sat on the counter for about a week before I got hungry enough to try produce that was maybe-possibly-probably fertilized by spinster corpse. They were damn good avocados, I’m happy to report. That’s a lesson to all you backyard farmers out there: If you want tasty avocados, kill an unmarried woman.

Our houses being so close to each other, we’ve had reason to say hi a few more times, and eventually they had me over for drinks. Remember when I said there was no graceful way to inquire about the on-site death? Well, when I drink, I get less graceful, and it didn’t take long for a question about the previous owner to segue into this crazy story I’d heard about the property.

And this is where it gets awkward.

The one guy said he’d never heard anything like that. The other guy nodded and said, “Yeah, actually, the lady who lived here before also died here.” I asked if the story about the yard was true, and he said to his understanding, no. What actually happened was even worse. According to him, the previous owner was a hoarder who’d let the house fall into a state of disrepair. She did die on the property, but not in the backyard: she died inside. But the house was in such a state that it wasn’t secure from the various outside elements, and though the animals did eventually get to her, they got to her inside the house — not in the backyard.

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat.

The first guy wanted to know why he hadn’t been informed of the circumstances of the vacancy, and the other guy explained that he assumed he’d rather not know. Which he did now. Because I brought it up.

I suppose the moral of this chapter might be that I am a terrible guest, but the story isn’t over yet. Even the “she everywhere inside the house” version of the story didn’t come from the realtor. That’s just what a neighbor said. Apparently, unless the on-site death resulted from murder or suicide, the seller isn’t required to divulge details to the buyer. At least Two Guys, No Wifes didn’t get them, anyway, just that someone had died, with no mention of the role of raccoons.

Now I wonder how difficult it would be to get those details — literal gory details, for the first time since I quit my job at the newspaper.

Now I also wonder why anyone invites me anywhere, really.

Previous funny stories about awful things:

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