Walk in the Front Door

Dan Ericcson

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The perfect juxtaposition.

The perfect over use of a word describing something so simple, some so beautifully clichéd, a contrast not of senses, but of conclusions, real and inferred.

For Eli, the sign, the neon words burned into the atmosphere around him, “No Vacancy”, meant another fifteen minutes of driving. Fifteen minutes spent the same meaningless way he had spent the last three months.

He was an aspiring artist trying to find himself. What Eli found, with the help of a cardboard suitcase and a stripped down, built up, stripped down Buick, was the stereotypical starving artist. Full of ideas and dreams, slowly leaking hope, Eli was awash with the life he had promised his mother, on leaving for Bucknell, that he was not going to live.

One of running away.

One of abandonment.

The admission was blaming the world, declaring yourself innocent, and not offering to help. The life was rapidly losing its flimsy appeal for Eli, who didn’t have the will power to live a guiltless, free love life. He couldn’t help but be concerned. At least intrigued. Eli was by now desperate for stability. He had considered a permanent escape, one that would bring him closer to ending his infernal journey. He no longer embraced being on the outside and not looking anywhere. Now he was looking in. Now he was ringing the world’s doorbell. Not by the hair of the our collective chinny-chin-chins, said the world.

For Eli, a cemetery, at the right time, represented every thing sacred about the world. Everybody that ever lived and died left behind someone who loved them, often for no particular reason. It wasn’t a personal agenda, and money could never buy the feelings of pure, unasked-for love.

Eli knew; he had worked so hard to find it at Bucknell, rather than just calling his mother at home.

A cemetery physically had nothing for anybody. Mentally all it had were memories. And memories are everything. Confirmation of existence, love, purpose and future. Eli knew that for everyone that died, someone had wept. But a cemetery defiled, paved over, grown over or neglected had no way of saying, “Here I am, remember me”. And without that, it was just so much more pointless death, so much more empty wandering, looking for someone in search of memories. Eli found something strangely discomforting about the sign and cemetery before him.

The words “No Vacancy” merrily blazed, proudly sending travelers on their way. The cemetery just to the right of the words seemed grotesquely out of place. Surrounded on two sides by a car dealership, highway on a third, and the boasting hotel finishing off the almost perfect square. Full to capacity, and stripped of anything that resembled dignity, Eli realized that this small plot of land was nothing but a storage garage. A hotel of sorts, and one that certainly offered no more stability than the “No Vacancy” signs did to Eli.

He pulled over to the shoulder, turned down the radio, and hoped that someone would always love him. And because of who he was, not in spite of who he was. At the moment, Eli could only think of one person. He had sold his cell-phone to buy gas two days ago. He didn’t particularly want to brave the hotel that referred long time visitors to the earthy basement plots next door.

Eli simply turned his car around, and decided to surprise his mother. And just walk in the front door of the only place that he could ever call home.

More Strange Stories…

Dan Ericsson

One of our early contributors back in 2001. He had a webpage on Angelfire.com called "One Page Detective Stories" where he posted stories he wrote for a class called "Reading and Writing Detective Fiction." He rode off the detective rail when he started submitting a series of silly stories to TheWeirdcrap.com.

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