Looking around the room would leave most with the impression that no one lived here. It would be a kindness to call it a sterile environment. Furnishings were sparse and bare, one drab grey colored rug in the center of the floor, a solitary wooden chair sitting in the corner. An ancient television on a plain wooden stand against a wall and one of those tall lamps with a nondescript beige shade and a brass strand you pull to turn it on.
There were a couple small windows letting in a sliver of light. Off white curtains were hung up on both blocking most of the light, with a hint of a cobweb in the corner of one.
The place was too quiet. It was eerie. You expected poltergeists or something, maybe bats or mice, or something to crawl out of somewhere. Slam a door, or wind to gust creepily in from an open window. Instead, everything was silent.
The report stated that a small pale face was seen peeking out one of the windows. In a place that had been vacant for years. It was assumed the child was a runaway, or a homeless waif, or perhaps was a scared lonely little soul that had been lost or was abducted. But, there was no trace of anyone. Dust covered the floors and corners, and the fridge was empty, except some mold from something long ago. There was no bed, or table.
The county records show the property had been foreclosed on, and it was repossessed by the bank and had been listed for sale for quite some time. There were water stains on the ceiling, and some water damage behind the toilet. Otherwise, there wasn’t much that was in disrepair. It was just empty.
There were no crumbs, or fingerprints in the dust. Perhaps the person thought they saw someone when they didn’t? Perhaps, I hated to say it, as I waved the flashlight around the small room, it was a ghost?
A preposterous idea. I almost wanted a sound, any sign of life. Something, anything. We waited a few minutes more, before we took another walk around the property. The yard was overgrown. It looked like an old swing set was somewhere in there, but the black berry bushes had grown to the point where most of it was hidden. A child lived here once, but it did not look like it was recent.
“What do you think, Andre? Is it possible to have multiple sightings of someone that was never here, or is it more likely we have a small person who leaves no trace behind them? Maybe the witnesses are
in on some weird prank. If so, I do not think it is funny.”
“No one is that bored. Why waste our time? Besides, I would hope they would do something at least a little bit funny. This? A waste of time, and boring as hell.”
“Well, I guess we should examine the yard. There could be someone hiding in this mess, and we probably wouldn’t know it. It seems the bank gave up on selling this place.”
“I think they have it listed as land. I think the house is pretty much toast, but then I am no realtor. So, who knows.”
We both scanned the tall grass with our flashlights, listening for something small and scared. It was getting darker, and if there were a child out here it would be getting awfully cold soon, with no heat in the house, or blankets. And, who knows what out here.
Coyotes for sure, and maybe something much worse, I thought to myself, part of me hoping to find something or someone just to have the day have some kind of achievement. A meaning, we were doing this for a reason and not wasting our time or resources.
Someone’s child may be out here, alone. Starving, freezing. scared. I was that child once. I remembered it all too well. Parts of it, anyway. Some parts, I sealed off from myself. Some families do more harm than good. That was why I went into this business after all. I wanted to help children who were in horrible situations. Like I wished someone had done for me.