by G. G. Goodson
The long, single-shot building was barely visible through the centuries-old oak trees and untamed underbrush. Standing in the distance on block legs with olive green tarpaper on all sides, it was both inviting and frightening to my four children. When the wind shifted they could smell the body of lifeless black water covered with algae out back.
Nanny, with a cigarette in her mouth, eyes in the back of her head and her 38 pistol always within reach, read their thoughts easily and warned them to “never go down there, you little hellions . . . too many Gawddam snakes and spiders."
Ever mindful of her wishes (wicked wink), my children lived with the unspoken promise that today a whistling Nanny (drenched in Avon Skin-So-Soft with pistol in hand ostensibly to shoot snakes -- but they only saw tree limbs and frogs) would guide them from her front yard across the sodden ground through locked gates. As she fumbled with rusty keys to rusty locks, the children were no longer in Mrs. Rogers’ neighborhood but about to max out their tummy tickle fear cycles.
As they groped around in the dark, stumbling over treasures, Nanny regularly shouted “SHIITTTT!” -- signaling she was in a standoff with a spider web. If the dank air engaged in fierce battle with Avon’s “From Here To Eternity” and a frightened polecat, they knew Nanny’s custom made rat traps had seen active duty.
As the tour progressed, Nanny shouted occasional warnings to stand clear of the light filtering through holes in the floor. In later years, an unmade bed suddenly appeared: next to it was a table, a lamp with a lopside shade and a knotted extension cord. Nanny’s explanations varied from the ridiculous, “going to fix it up to rent,” to the sublime, “your uncle naps here sometime.”
My children asked the same questions about the warehouse year after year. Nanny with her smiling eyes and salty vocabulary could find no fault in their questions. They soared high and low with the child in her heart as she weaved new stories of property ownership. Over time only one parcel of her answers remained in the same hemisphere with the truth – that the warehouse was a World War II barracks relocated to her property from a near-by military base . . . but that’s another story!
G. G. Goodson writes online using the penname “RiverDancer.” She says she has no credentials other than she is a retired Corporate Director of Human Resources. She works occasionally as a Surface Mine Safety consultant. RiverDancer and her husband have lived in the panhandle of Florida all their lives.
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