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, April 19, 2007

Two Tactical Victories

The weekend was a whirlwind.

We went to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, for a wedding on April 14th, the 95 Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic. A nice wedding, but was that the most auspicious day for one?

Sunday, our third and newest car broke down. It's still in the shop. That pretty well ruined most of the day. The funniest part is everytime we tell someone that our car broke down they say, "So the Saturn finally went. You sure got some good use out of it though." The look of incredulity is priceless when we tell them, "No. Actually, the Saturn is the only car that is still running. The new one broke down."

Our crisp, smoking broken-down-asses were pulled out of the fire by the immense kindness of two friends of ours. They not only picked us up off the side of the road, but loaned my wife their car until hers is out of the shop. Incase anyone is wondering, we are in the process of constructing a shrine for their perpetual worship. I mean, I'm so grateful that I'd willingly commit multiple felonies at their request. Thank you!

Then, I took Gideon to the doctor to have his allergies checked et cetera. And, best yet, I got to do all of this with a cold which my wife has now caught. Really, the cold is my fault. Last week, I worked myself too hard and slept too little. By Thursday night, I'd pretty well wrecked myself. Friday was spent fielding a lot of questions about why I looked dead.

By the time Sunday night was crashing to an end, I was very weary. And, it wasn't just the cold, the stress, and the 750+ miles on the road catching up with me.

It's amazing what spending a few days away from the Devil Queen can do for you. It takes very little time to get use to things like a clean house, real furniture, and the utter absence of construction sites and tools. You suddenly remember what it is like to live in a normal house, under normal conditions.

And then, you come home. There you are, sitting on top of a five gallon bucket of primer by the light of a bare, 60 watt bulb thinking, "There were trenches at the Somme that looked better than this, why the fuck are you living here?"

I was demoralized. In that brief absence I'd lost my sense of direction and purpose, but, after a night's sleep and a lot of coffee, I managed to regroup. While I should have massed my forces right away and stormed the hall, I decided to start off with two small, carefully chosen battles, skirmishes really.

I needed a taste of victory and a small dose of closure. Besides, it needed to be done anyhow.

The first battle started when I noticed I'd nearly fallen into an ambush. The house took advantage of my preoccupation. Last night, I had a sudden epiphany and spotted the trap. "Damn it man, the porch is painted! Clean off all the stupid tarps and rubbish, and quit stumbling over it every day." I decided that was a wonderful idea, particularly since the cat had deposited something small, dead, and wonderfully ripe by the front door. The way the porch was collecting flies and bad karma was appalling. I could feel it closing in upon my soul.

So, I sprang into action, and, while I was at it, I wired up the porch light.

The house wasn't expecting this little assault, she hardly put up a fight. I followed up with trying to finish off Pee-Wee's Playhouse's rim lock.

She tried to rally her forces, but she was still off balance. With the last minute substitution of a different set of knobs, this little piece of work fell together nicely. Now, all I have to do is chisel out a place for the lock-catch and it's finished. Even so, this is the first door in the whole bloody house with real, working, "finished" hardware. Not even the front door can boast this.

Emboldened, I descended upon the hall, a never-ending war of attrition. I'm moving forward, but who ever put the 100,000 staples in the foyer wall should have their private parts stomped. Considerer yourself warned.

I'm going to try to smuggle out one last post today. Then, I'll have to slip back into radio silence for Friday, Saturday, and, maybe Sunday. The enemy is always watching.
Run silent, run deep. Then, blow the bastards out of the water, right?

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Anonymous Wretched Homeowner said...

I loved this post. I agree that it's demoralizing to visit a normal, civilian house only to return to the battlefield of your own unending renovation. But a nice house would just make you soft. Think of the Devil Queen as the Cato Fong to your Inspector Clouseau -- she keeps your combat skills sharp. (Although doubtless you're a more formidable adversary than Clouseau.) By the way, she's looking great.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Brenda from Flatbush said...

Trenches in the Somme...LOL! For me, the killer is to go someplace that has real, working door hardware that shuts smoothly and clicks!!!!! (as opposed to doors shimmed 'cause they're too loose or never closed 'cause they're too tight, or with no doorknobs at all 'cause they fell off etc.) And now, YOU HAVE GREAT RIM LOCKS! I salivate over them, if that helps...

9:19 AM  
Blogger Gary said...


Now there's a compliment. I wonder what would happen if I said that to a woman......

11:08 AM  
Blogger John said...

Thanks everyone. Gary, I've wondered that too. They're pretty sensitive about their rim locks down in my part of the world.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

That's why I only visit people with houses in some state of disrepair or mayhem. It's best for my fragile psyche.

8:06 PM  

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