Kirchenschiff von monsieur menschenleer
Hunter’s Lodge In Ozone, AR
You could almost the smell the dried, stale blood in there. I peeked around the corner halfway expecting to the see the ghost of a long dead hunter, his thick and calloused hands clutching the frame of the dusty, mostly-forgotten walls. I pushed the door open, though, and was greeted only by thick cobwebs and the corpses of emaciated spiders. Taxidermied deer lay in rot on display, its majesty watered down and lips now drooping heavily toward the floor. He looked surprised to see us there, like it was the first sign of outside life for thirty years or longer. The hunting license stapled to the wall said that it expired in the summer months of 1977. There were Polaroids stapled next to it of a man and a woman dressing a set of dead animals. They looked happy. The animals looked dead and you could almost still smell their blood in there.
The two of us walked around the abandoned lot for a good twenty minutes or so. She didn’t share the same enthusiasm that I did, but this one was different. Everything seemed so in tact, so perfectly placed, so intentionally designed that one had to wonder its story. What happened? Who died and left this place for us to find there, deep in the Ozark mountains without a sign of civilization as far as the eye could see. I wondered about the hunting, the smell of fresh gun powder as the sun gently lifted over the horizon. I wondered about the dead animals, the way that the sunrise would have shined through their morning breath, or through their ribcages once suspended from the tall pines. I imagined the coffee and the conversations and the solitude. And I imagined that the man who owned it must have himself perished between that late summer of 1977 and now. I wondered who owned the property now, if they lived nearby, if they were going to carry on the tradition and meet me there with a shotgun in tow. I wondered if I, too, might be suspended from the tall pines before the day was over. I was probably being hyperbolic. I definitely survived, lived to put pen to paper and pen this narrative.
The abandoned houses here are all like that. Doors aren’t even locked. There probably isn’t much need, I suppose, considering the considerable effort it took to get to them in the first place. There probably aren’t a whole lot of weird people in these parts. Probably not a whole lot of people at all. So we wandered around and I looked at everything without disturbing its original position. I could still smell the blood. And I wondered about the stories.
But the walls didn’t speak up.