…about something narrow

The house on Lake Street always made passersby stop and stare, even the ones not clutching the walking tour book, the ones who weren’t somehow subliminally dreading devoting part of their precious vacation time to this desolate seeming part of town.

The smaller than average front door and the window boxes looked as if they had come off a child’s playhouse which, indeed, they had, these and the wooden windows all sparked the same thoughts.

“It must be a joke,” the man of the couple was often heard to whisper, “no one could possibly live there.” The woman, usually with her finger trapped between the guidebook’s slick, heavy pages, would bring the volume up and find the entry. The recitation usually included the construction date, far enough in the past to excuse the peeling paint up near the eaves, and the bubbling in the glass near the sashes.

“It says it’s private residence now,” she would reply, eyes scanning the heavy black type.

“For who? A family of dwarves?” he would snort, most often taking her arm and moving her toward the coffee shop at the end of the block, the one whose smells were carried on the prevailing breeze.

Sometimes while they stood there pondering the half-width building the door would open with a creak that the owner subtly encouraged through haphazard maintenance. He would tip his bowler hat, the man who emerged from the impenetrable darkness of the front room, adjust the collar of his overcoat, and shut the door moving down the sidewalk with his briefcase in hand.

The couple would gape at the man’s receding back, itself as tall as the house was wide, the implausibility of what their eyes had just seen being insisted upon by their brains.

“Do you think they squished him in there when they built these apartment buildings?”

Sometimes the man in the bowler hat would overhear as he strolled away. The question always made him smile.

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