A work of fiction
By Francis J. LaManna
4311 Furnace Street remained vacant for the next 30 years. No members of the Ottenbury family showed up or called in to claim the property so it sat. Once or twice during the year employees from the Department of Public Works would show up and cut the lawn, that was in the beginning though. I don’t think anyone trimmed a bush or cut the lawn there in last ten years. People just avoided that place, it was like it didn’t exist. As a matter of fact, in all my years living in Scarlet, I’ve never even seen a For Sale sign on the lawn.
Old man Ottenbury died when I was in high school, I was a sophomore at Scarlet High, and I can remember walking past 4311 everyday on my way home from school. It felt strange-the whole area around his house was one big cold spot. It was eerie too like as if someone was watching me. Sometimes I would run home.
If you take Furnace Street all the way out until you come to the first cross street and cross over, Furnace became Gate Street. My parents and I lived at the end of Gate Street. Sometimes I would get that eerie feeling walking past Ottenbury’s and haul ass. A few years after I graduated Scarlet there was a series of stories in the local paper. Locals thought his house was haunted, and some people reported seeing the ghost of an old man standing in window. There’s a lot of people who think Ottenbury’s house was haunted at the time of his death, and that’s why he didn’t try to get help or leave. No one understood why he just sat there and bled out.
Well, I’m in my forties now, and I ended up buying a house of my own on Gate Street right across from where my parents lived. I don’t go near that house anymore, and here’s the weirdest thing. If I go out onto my front lawn at night when it’s dark and look in the direction of Furnace Street, the sky about that area looks like it’s on fire.
I wish there was a way of closing Gate Street-you know, completely separating our side from Furnace Street. In a sense it would be like closing the gate to the furnace; maybe make it a dead end or something.