I’ve alluded to my former abode a few times before. But most of you have never been formally introduced to my degenerate old domicile.
At the end of my second year at the old alma matter, Wittenberg University (Motto: The home for WPs who wear Birkenstocks and socks in the February snow.) a few friends and I were in a predicament. We had to find some kind of off-campus housing for the next year. Being the lazy slobs that we were, we dragged our feet and enjoyed several cases of beer while our responsible peers went out and acquired themselves affordable apartments with plenty of square footage in convenient locations, probably with breakfast nooks (I’ve always wanted one of those) and doormats.
With the school year drawing to a close, my friends and I (henceforth to be referred to by our better known name: Tha Crew) put down our various implements of whatever and beer bottles and got our shit together enough to stumble out of the dorm into the harsh daylight to look for our new home.
I don’t know who saw it first; perhaps we all saw it at the same time. For sure none of us really reacted the first time we saw it. The “it” in question being a “For Rent” sign, residing in the overgrown lawn of a dilapidated old house on the main street that we passed every time we drove to and from other appointments to see apartments. It wasn’t our first choice, because the lawn in question belonged to a building that looked to have been constructed back when people believed in burning witches at the stake and drilling holes in heads to let out evil spirits*. So we weren’t too anxious to call the number on the For Rent sign. After all, the person on the other end of the line could have been Hannibal Lecter, eager to show us how much crawlspace the house has for storing bodies.
Besides the obvious antediluvian properties of the house, another curious feature was a sign nailed to the front that simply said “Salt House”, cryptic, to say the least.
After calling the rental number, we met the guy trying to offload the property on some ignorant college saps (Tha Crew fit the bill quite nicely) and he told us about the house during the tour.
It seems that the large place used to house a Christian fraternity. They were a pious lot who didn’t take the best care of the place. The walls needed painting, the rugs needed vacuuming, the floors needed sweeping, the kitchen needed delousing and the whole place needed an exorcism.
Hell, there were still gas outlets on the walls from where the original inhabitants would hang their lamps for light before electricity was discovered!!!!**
The basement was the scariest part. The electricity didn’t work and it was filled with old, abandoned furniture. Tables, chairs, desks and the like. I guess that after a day of regular school learnin’ the frat would get together at the Salt House for compulsory religious learnin’. The walls of the basement were all very old stone. It looked as though the Hebrews had practiced construction by building the basement of the Salt House before they went on to create all those pyramids in Egypt.*** One wall had tumbled, revealing the dank earth behind it. Quite unsettling. Naturally, we spent as little time as possible down there. And when we did go we always brought a flash light and traveled in twos, with ropes tied around our waists as so not to be dragged off into the dark by some ill-conceived creature from out of a poorly written Stephen King novel, (the guy’s a hack people! His stories don’t frighten so much put people to sleep by their sheer length.)
Instead, once we had moved in, we spent the majority of our time in the bat-infested attic. There we would lounge about like Supreme Beings of Leisure, (I’ve never heard their music, but that is one of the most ass-kickingest names for a band ever!) watching t.v., hosting legendary parties and fighting bats with golf clubs (we had the golf clubs, not the bats). But that’s another story…
*Alternate jokes about age include saying that it’s as old as your mom, (who’s so old that when God said “let there be light” she flipped the light switch. It’s corny, yet a classic) but I decided to take the high road instead.
***That’s another old joke.