Behind the Curtain 3 – Family Home to Grow House

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The property manager broke it to her gently. The house she grew up in, the home she hoped would one day help her through retirement was damaged by a grow operation she knew nothing about. Of course, the property management people didn’t know either. No one knew.

“That’s how it is,” she thought as she drove through her own neighborhood. “All of these homes could be grow houses.”

It had been some time since she had seen her own neighbors. The blinds were always drawn on many of the homes in her neighborhood, and the dog that used to bark at all hours next door seemed to be gone now. Cars came and went, but it just wasn’t the same.

Used to be, she knew all her neighbors. They’d have barbecues and watch each other’s kids. But, the kids were gone now and her friend who used to chat with her over the fence had moved away too.

The nice couple she rented to had been in the house for more than two years, but she now knew that no one had lived there the entire time.

She pulled into the driveway on Orchard Lane and found the workers already hauling out vinyl that had been covering the floors throughout the house.

It was a small farmhouse that had been in her family for generations. Apples grew there years ago, but the trees hadn’t been cared for. She was hoping this new couple would bring life back into the old place, but she kept reminding herself, no one was living there. It was just another grow house. But it had been her family home.

She walked through the living room and paused where her father had once read to her by the fire. There was trash in the fireplace and holes in the walls. A man was there walking with her, but she barely heard his explanations of the damage.

“They cut the walls out to re-wire the electrical,” he said moving down the hallway. Doty followed in silence, unable to take in all the damage. “This is where they hung the lights,” he said motioning to the ceiling full of holes, old wiring, wooden planks and empty hooks.

The room where her father was born had been a drying room. Fishing line was tied from one end of the room to the other, with debris everywhere.

The bathroom sink and bathtub were filthy and Doty noted, “It’s as if they had never been cleaned.”

“They haven’t,” the man replied. “Why should they? No one was living here. They were just making money, ma’am. Nothing but fertilizer and insecticide went down those drains.”

“Why do they do this?” she asked, despairingly.

“Well, ever since the feds started the camps in the woods folks have been growing inside,” the man said nonchalantly. “They can hide it all inside.”

Doty’s heart sank. “What’s it going to cost to get everything back to normal?” she asked.

“Hard to say, 10, 20 thousand or more,” he offered. “The last house we worked on was worse. At least you still have your appliances and hardware, most take all that out.”

Doty looked around once more and went outside. The orchard was still standing, maybe there was hope again for this old place, but her future retirement plans looked bleak.

Next week: Nick, house-sitting in Cutten

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