I found the mansion's gate. The present owner descended the steps; we shook hands. (My hyperextended fingers screamed.) When told him I'd lived there many years ago, he reluctantly agreed to show me around the grounds.
The Japanese Garden had become a lawn, its carp pond replaced with a swimming pool. Tea house serves Rikyu in Nirvana, the path to it gone. The rock garden is a single stone. The current owner said it was not the original, but the bridge's curved railing looks like the one we built. I only saw the cottage I had lived in from distance.
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Is the deep bathtub and the stove in which I baked heavy loaves of bread, still inside? I didn't ask. I recalled a few gnarled trees. How deeply they're rooted in my mind! Do they remember me? The fence I built to shield us from nosy neighbors has been taken down. Gone, too, are the Rolls Royce, Bentley, and the Cadillac hearse.


Several people have disappeared from this room. I suspect there's a hatch at the base of the wall. I feel around, and the molding gives way to a hole just large enough for someone to crawl through...to where there's a large pond filled with carp.

Learned that Minerva, who had hosted us for over a year, has passed away. Drug dealers had occupied the house for awhile, stealing the Chinese rugs, long diningroom table, high-backed chairs, cabinets filled with dishes. He didn't ask me inside to see the staircase that was immortalized on film. After we had circled the house, returning to where we began, I pointed to the attic and told him of Rowland, who had paced up there with his satanic three-legged dog.

I raked in a few ghosts and pressed them between my notebook's leaves. Then, with fingers in agony again, I walked away. Clearly, I could leave this plot behind.


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