The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Joseph's Coat or The Six Hued Beast, Part 3

My in-laws had brought their truck to the auction, and they were kind enough to load what they could and drop it off at the Queen. I think they hauled about half a pallet, so that left us with around 250 bundles to move. This was definitely more than I could fit in my Saturn. Fortunately, my wife's father is a used car dealer, and, as we've gotten into the habit of doing since we bought the Queen, we went begging to borrow a couple of trucks and a trailer. Not only did he agree to loan the trucks & trailer, but he also volunteered to help us haul them.

Things didn't go how we'd planned them. When I showed up at the car lot, I found my father-in-law waiting with his 3500 Dodge (Dual rear axle & diesel) hooked up to a 16 foot car-hauling trailer.

I asked him where the other truck was. He said, "Oh, this ought to be fine."

"Are you sure? We've got four pallets of shingles to move."

"Yeah, this'll work. I just got brand new tires and everything for the trailer."

"You're sure?"

"Yeah, get in and let's go."

I shrugged and hopped into the truck. The drive up was uneventful, and we found our way to the shingles without too much trouble. Then, the marathon loading of shingles and our troubles began.

First, my father-in-law backed the trailer and truck up to the shingles. I hopped out to help him maneuver the trailer back. It didn't go too well. Diesel engines are really loud, and my father-in-law is very comfortable with maneuvering his trailer around, so he moves fast. By the time he noticed me jumping around and yelling, he'd already plowed in to a stack of shingles and sheared off all the lights on the right, rear corner of the trailer. In hindsight, I guess it was sign of things to come.

One thing that I've always respected about my father-in-law is that he is an insanely hard worker. Most normal people would have to take illegal stimulants to keep up with him. He's been known to drive non-stop to New York City to pickup a car, load it, and turn right back around for Arkansas. A flabby, little girly-man with a desk job, I really had to haul ass to keep up with him. First we loaded as many shingles as we could into the truck bed. Once we filled it, we started on the trailer.

When you're loading a trailer (or a truck for that matter), your goal is to place most of the load between the rear axles and the front of the trailer or truck bed. The load will ride better, and it also distributes the weight in the best possible way. We'd stacked as many shingles as we could on the front end of the trailer when we began to get concerned. We still had nearly a pallet of shingles left, and the trailer hitch was nearly touching the ground.

I suggested that we redistribute the load and come back for the rest of it, but he dismissed the idea.

"We're already here, lets get everything. I don't want to drag my ass back up here again."

We started stacking the remaining shingle on the back portion of the trailer, and this raised the hitch up and away from the ground. On the downside, the whole trailer and the rear end of the truck were now skimming the ground. The back bumper sagged in the middle, and I still don't know why it didn't tear clean off the truck. The trailer tires were looking all sorts of scary too. They were packed so far down that they nearly looked flat.

We climbed into the truck, cranked up the air conditioning, and drained the last of the gallon of sweet tea he'd brought. Fortified with caffeine and sugar, we began our return trip.

Ozone is in the foot hills of the Ozark Mountains, and most of our trip from Ozone to Clarksville was downhill. Our load was pushing the truck to its max. My father-in-law put the truck in low gear so he wouldn't have to ride the brake all the way down. It was a weird sensation, one that I don't quite know how to describe, but you could feel the trailer pushing the truck down the road. The transmission screamed like F-4 Phantom ridding its after-burners. It was so loud at times that you could hardly hear the stereo. The load was so heavy he had to keep on the brakes most of the way down anyhow, and you could smell them burn.

The truck could barely make 40 mph, so we took State Highway 64 from Clarksville to Russellville. We were a little ways outside of Russellville, near London, when the gas light came on with a ding. Predictably, the first gas station we came to was closed. While we were there we gave our load a once-over to make sure everything was still holding together. Fortunately, it was.

I assumed that we'd stop for gas when we got to Russellville, but my father-in-law had other plans.

"Shouldn't we stop?" I asked as we passed the Exxon station on the corner.

"No, we'll make it."

I wasn't convinced, but what the hell. I was up for an adventure.

I had recently learned about a new back road up and over Crow Mountain, and I had him turn down it.

"Are you sure this is the way there?" he asked.

"Yeah, it is," I said. Actually, I wasn't sure. I figured that there was a 3 in 4 chance that I was right. We'd find out in few miles.

We were a few miles from the Queen when we heard a tremendous "BANG!" At first I thought it might have been a gunshot.


"What was that?" I asked.

"We just lost a tire. Son of a bitch!"

He eased the truck over on the shoulder of the road. We got out and checked the truck and trailer. The rear, driver-side tire on the trailer had blown. Fortunately, the trailer had two tires on each side. We jacked the trailer up, pulled off the ruined tire so it would stop dragging, and gently lowered the trailer down. The wheel mount/axle hovered about 2 inches off the asphalt.

"Will we make it?"

He looked at the trailer for a moment. "No fucking idea, let go. I don't want to unload this shit in the dark."

The truck crept across the last few miles, every bump in the road punctuated with a gravelly scrape. I had picked the right road, we shaved a few miles and a couple hills off our trip. We turned onto our road, and the wheel mount dragged all the way down the gravel road. It looked like someone was plowing a field with the worlds smallest plow. The little furrow followed us all the way to the Queen. The truck eased to a stop and he killed the engine. I almost expected the whole thing to fall apart like they do in the movies.

Charlie happened to be up at the Queen when we got there (I forget why he was there, plumbing?).

"That's a hell of a load y'all got there," Charlie said. "I could hear y'all for miles. I couldn't figure out what that noise was. Sounded like a damn airplane or something. I didn't figure it out until you turned down the road."
The three of us started unloading the truck. It's amazing how much faster things went with one more set of hands. We finished in under an hour just as it was getting dark. While we unloaded the shingles, we estimated that we'd hauled between 4 to 5 short tons of shingles in that one load. I think that is about 8,000 to 10,000 pounds. It's amazing we didn't do more damage to the truck and trailer than blowing a tire, bending the trailer's axles, and permanently bending the rear bumper into a "V."


Blogger derek said...

Man, that sounds like an adventure. $100 for that many shingles makes it worth it though. Are you going to replace the roof eventually? or is it part of the charm?

2:16 PM  
Blogger John said...

When we had the shingles put on, it was with the idea that they would serve as a temporary roof.

I think that is still the case, but the more we've gotten use to them the less of a urgent priority it has become.

I know some folk really hate the roof, but that just makes me want to leave it up longer to antagonize them. I'm not nice.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you should leave it as is. It's a great story and now part of the Queen's history. A hundred bucks....that's mind blowing. I love it!!

9:17 AM  
Blogger GreenDogThree said...

Well $100 and a car trailer! Was the trailer repaired?

1:29 PM  
Blogger John said...

Yeah, the trailer was fixed.

I'm not sure how much it cost. My father-in-law has a way of trading for almost everything or he already has the parts laying around.

2:34 PM  
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