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 by Frank Shortt
The Burned-out-House
2015 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
        “Poppy, let’s go to the burned out house,” Kenny said.
        “Ok, Kenny, that’s a good idea,” replied Poppy.
        Up in Grizzly Flat is a burned-out-house on Pleasant Hill Drive called; ‘The- End- Of- The- Road’. All the grandchildren who visit Vao and Poppy’s house like to take a walk down there just to see what has changed since their last visit.
        As Kenny and Poppy left the Shortt property, two deer darted down beside the fence. Squirrels squawked as though they were being disturbed by the hikers. Blue Jays fluttered about as they fed on Vao’s bird seed. Vao is grandmother in Portuguese. My wife is Portuguese.
         One of Poppy’s neighbors popped up suddenly on the road. The three passed the time of day talking about the weather in Grizzly Flat, the latest events and the welfare of each of their families.
        “Were heading to the burned-out-house, Poppy informed the neighbor. Would you like to join us for a walk?”
        “No, replied the neighbor, I have to do some chores this morning. Conifer worms are attacking my trees! I need to get Jan Rendal to come check them and see if he can cut out the affected trees.”
        “Ok, we’ll see you later, bye, bye.”
        The neighbor left in somewhat of a hurry. 
             As they walked further, they noticed that a lot of pine cones had dropped into the street since their last visit. Autumn was approaching swiftly. Leaves were beginning to turn several shades of red and yellow.
        “Poppy, Vao could bring a wagon down here and get these to start her fires in the woodstove.” Kenny said.
        “We will tell her, and she will probably suggest that you and I come and get them for her.” Poppy laughingly retorted.
         When they reached the burned-out-house, Kenny was amazed at all the debris lying around. There were broken swing sets, rusting bathtubs, water heaters, stoves, washers, dryers, etc. everything that a normal family would use in their daily lives. Each article had dropped straight down as the burning floor became too weakened by the fire to support it.
        “What actually caused this house to burn?” Kenny inquired.
        Poppy was a little hesitant to reply.
        “Well?” Kenny asked further.
        “Uh, uh, there is a story going around that the family was in need of ready cash and they had the place insured for a lot of money. Some folks have said that the place was burned down in order to get the money from the insurance company. I’m sure you will not understand the full implications of this explanation, but this is to the best of my knowledge.”
        “Isn’t that against the law?” Kenny wanted to know.
        “Yes, but the man, or woman, was desperate, desperate people do some crazy things sometimes. They do not think about the results of  their actions. I am sure that they were sorry they did that bad thing after they thought about it.”
        Kenny thought about this and tried to apply it to his life.
        “Do you think there are ghosts around here at night? Kenny asked.
        “There have been reports of strange lights down here at night. Some folks say it was campfires made by young men who were making illegal drugs. There is a little hogan down below the burned-out-house where some evidence of drug- making was left. There was the remnant of an old Propane stove, some old pots and pans, and some cola bottles and cans.”
        “So, where do the ghosts come in?”
        “Well, I suppose that is left up to anyone’s imagination,” Poppy replied with a smile.
        Kenny was a little puzzled as they returned to the Shortt property. He could not understand how that there had been evidence of ghosts yet no one had actually seen them. It would be something to ponder and to dream about.
        That night Kenny dreamed about an old burned-out-house with hundreds of ghosts fluttering about. He woke up in a dither with sweat dripping off him and wondering if his dream was a reality.
        I guess I will never know, Kenny thought.
By Kenny Lee and Poppy Shortt, 9-16-2012