What world did this mansion belong to? Fantasy, history, some distant planet? Wherever it was, it was long gone; only the house remained. The siding was olive green; scalloped purple shingles decorated a dozen gables over windows and doors; a raspberry-red door blazed at the middle of a long covered porch. All three colors painted the porch columns and rails so that they looked like beaded jewelry. Semi-circle windows like glass fans topped the rectangular windows wherever they could fit. Red and purple gingerbread decorated corners like solid spider webs. The best thing of all was a round tower in the front left corner, its ice-cream-cone roof thrusting higher than even the trees.
*As they went up the arrow-straight cement walkway to the porch, Amy tried to see Alice and her family animating the bright green lawn – strolling among the shrubs and flowers, sitting under the maples, fanning themselves behind the beaded, spindled rails. Which window was Alice’s? What route had she taken to abandon her life?
*A tall, thin man stood in the opening, his mouth slightly agape. His head was tall, thin, and bald except for a wispy gray and brown goatee and a shading of gray along the sides where hair should be. His nose was beaked and as long and narrow as the rest of him. Good old-fashioned headphones encircled his neck, the earpieces meeting together under his chin like two red boxing gloves.
(Enter Gordon Spellmeyer – I’ve really been enjoying him. There is so much more to him than I can share in these snippets!)
*After taking turns looking into the stereoscope and oohing and ahhing over the miscellaneous scenes in its black-and-white photos, they continued on a tourist-led survey of the house: Mr. Spellmeyer followed the Browns from room to room, talking all the while about the house and his remodeling, with a remark thrown in here and there about other things that constituted the outer skin of his life: history, his teaching experiences, unrevealing bits about his past.
*“This is really nosy, Gordon,” Grandma began, looking away from a reproduction painting of a horse and cart, “but I’m notorious for that. How can you afford all this? You’re a teacher, for heaven’s sake.”
*“Ah, a historical mystery!” Mr. Spellmeyer rubbed his goatee. “Bringing history into the here-and-now. I wish I could get my students – hey, that gives me an excellent idea!” He raised his index finger. “I need to work in some genealogy next semester. They’ll get to research their own ancestors and events from their lifetimes. It will bring home the reality of history!” He smiled wide and his eyes grew shinier than his glasses as he gazed at Amy. “See? You only just got your degree and you’ve already taught me something!”
*He put a long, slippered foot on the carpeted bottom step and froze there as if he were a switched-off robot. “Did you say Alice?”
Thanks for reading!