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!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Gunslinger or One of the Reasons Why I Lived in Rockville, Maryland

This post isn’t exactly a Devil Queen related post, but you might get a laugh out of it anyhow. And, it does involve home improvement in the broadest sense.

To answer your question (You used to live in Rockville??) Amanda, my wife and I lived in Rockville for about 9 months back in 1999-2000. However, before we moved out into Maryland, we lived in a basement efficiency apartment in Northwest D.C. for about a month.

Our landlord – let’s call him Mr. Dee – fancied himself a home improvement cowboy of sorts. He was a stockbroker from a very affluent New England family, and, while this doesn’t preclude him from being a competent DIY’er, I don’t think he had any prior experience. If he did, you couldn’t tell.

When he came home from work in the evening, he’d change out of his suit and into low-ankle boots, a pair of khaki shorts (it was August), a slightly worn, pastel Polo shirt, and an old navy blue sports jacket. A bottle of beer was permanent affixed to his left hand from the moment he walked in the door till he went to bed.

If we happened to call about any maintenance issue we might have, he’d come right down to “fix” it. It didn’t matter what our problem was, the right tool for the job was always holstered in his sports jacket’s pocket: a cordless drill and a fist full of 2 ½ inch screws. We never saw him armed with any other type of tool. We have reason to believe that he had & used a saw of some sort, but we never actual saw it.

His solution to any maintenance problem was . . . mind bending. For example, the latch on our sole window wasn’t working. Half of the time you’d latch it, it would unlatch, and the window would pop open. His solution? He screwed the window shut. My wife and I were just standing their with our mouths agape thinking, “What the fuck?” He was so pleased with himself he didn’t notice our shock, and we didn’t have the heart to say anything besides, “Um, thanks?”

Our apartment was accessed from the rear of the house. We walked down the alley, opened the gate in the chain link fence, walked down a flight of concrete stairs to our door. Soon this all changed.

A week or so after we moved into our apartment, six foot sections of a wood privacy fence started appearing. I mean that in the most literal sense. You’d come home at night and everything was the same as you left it that morning. You’d get up to go to work the next day and a new section of fencing was there. Its stealth was incredible; it had to be ninja fencing.

The gate was the first to go. It was replaced with a wooden one which stood over six feet tall. It was nearly impossible to open because it didn’t hang square in the opening. It leaned to the side so the dead bolt wouldn’t slide smoothly. You had to throw your shoulder into it as you tried to turn your key in the lock, very irritating.

Then every couple of days, another section would appear. Instead of removing the chain link fence and digging new post holes, Mr. Dee would lash the sections of wood fencing to the chain link fence with bailing wire (or something of the sort). The six foot sections weren’t attached to each other. They were butted together and standing independently. Not only was the “fence” rickety, it looked awful.

Getting into our apartment was now a struggle on two counts. One, it was just hard to unlock and open the damn gate. Two, it was also hard to keep a straight face while looking at the fence. While laughing at it in private was fine, it would be impolite to do so while Mr. Dee was lounging in his back yard drinking beer.

I didn’t take us too long to figure out where the ninja fencing was coming from. One night we made it home by 9 PM, and there was an awful racket coming from the kitchen. You know, kind of like a body or a section of fencing being hauled across the kitchen floor. Which to the two do you think it was? The noise kept up until nearly 11PM, and, in the morning, six more feet of ninja fencing had appeared.

Shortly thereafter we moved out of the District and out to Rockville, Maryland, so we never got to see the completed ninja fence. While the late night ninja fencing factory was annoying, it wasn’t bad enough to drive us out of our apartment. It didn’t induce us to stay either. The final straw was Mr. Dee’s idiot wife trying to make us financially responsible for their flooding problem. So, we moved out two days before hurricane Floyd paid the District a visit; I’d bet a lot of money that basement flooded too.


Blogger amanda said...

Thanks for posting about that! It's hilarious (I've been working late nights lately, and haven't had time to (a) take pictures of the house to send to you or (b) read blogs) about the stealth ninja fence. I've had some bad landlords in my day, but nothing like that! Oh my God, no wonder you ran screaming from the DC area.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Loved the ninja fencing/screwed-the-windows shut story. I really got a picture in my head of the landlord with his handy-dandy drill in the pocket of his jacket. Ha!

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