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  • Writer's pictureJeff South

Blogtober 2021: Guess


Finding the previous owner of your home is a matter of finding the right website for a title search or ownership history and the willingness to pony up for 7-day free trial membership to a website that will tell you who owned your house before you. A few clicks and your credit card number and you have all you need to know who owned the house before you.

Except their life story and what happened to them while they lived here.

"This isn't telling me anything," I say to Sandy. "We already knew the names of the family that lived here before. They were here for over 25 years. The first family was named Fitch. Lane Fitch's name is on the title. I don't know who to get in touch with anybody."

"Did you know that many people believe poltergeists usually are attracted to teenagers?" she says, face buried in her own research on her phone. "It says here that paranormal experts think it has something to do with all the hormonal changes and such."

"I'm not a teenager."

"My guess is you're hormonal. Going through a change."

Internet search: do men go through menopause?


Armed with no new information, I sit at the desk in my office and survey the collection of paper, books, notes scratched to remind me of things I forgot to do anyway, and pens. I own a collection of rollerball pens in various colors. I pretend that each color means something in some imaginary process I created for organizing my work, but the truth is I just like having pens of different colors. Orange, blue, purple, green, red, and, of course, black. I decide the desk needs cleaned so I gather the papers and books and arrange them in such a way that satisfies my definition of "neat and orderly." Each pen is placed into a plastic cup next to one of the monitors so that I can use them again tomorrow.

"Hey, honey!" my wife calls to me. I recognize her tone as the one she uses when she needs to give me feedback about something. I move to the top of the stairs, she is at the foot of them holding a small bedside lamp.

"What's up?" I ask.

"I saw this in the trash. Did you throw it away?"

"Yeah. I figured you didn't want it anymore because you bought that new one."

The instant the last syllable of that sentence escapes my mouth a knot grows in my stomach and my chest tightens to the point of mild discomfort.

"Why didn't you ask me before you just threw it away. You do that all the time and I really hate it."

"I'm sorry," I tell her.

"It's just that you should've asked. This was my lamp."

"Again, I'm sorry."

"You don't have to apologize. It's not like you're in trouble."

"Kind of sounds like it." Another sentence I regret. She's right. I should've asked. Shouldn't have assumed anything. Now she's upset and I'm upset because I'm the reason she's upset. The knot thickens, grows heavier. My chest feels like it is pulling apart.

"Hey. Don't," she says. "You don't have to snap at me."

"I didn't snap!" I say, snapping. I catch my breath and hold up my hands in defense of myself. No excuse for my behavior, but the agitation within me continues to spread.

The cup of pens flies off the desk and slams into the doorway of the office. I duck and yell out.

"What was that?" Sandy asks, coming up the stairs.

We peek in the room at the shards of broken plastic scattered on the floor amidst the colored pens.

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