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!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nothing Says Home Sweet Home Like . . .

Nothing says "Home Sweet Home," like your Entergy Arkansas Nuclear One Emergency Manual.
The only perk to moving the Devil Queen 16 miles out of Russellville is that we're outside of emergency zones above.  Zone J is closest to us.  According to the instructions, we should proceed to Morrilton incase of an accident.  That would put us about 30 miles directly down wind from the reactor.  Does anyone besides me remember Chernobyl?  Do you think huddling 30 miles down wind was really all that safe?

Scarlet use to work with a girl who was a military brat with her family in Germany during Chernobyl.  She said they were ordered to stay indoors for weeks because of the radioactive fallout.  And they were hundreds of miles away from Chernobyl.  And, she still developed thyroid cancer when she was in her early 20's.  

My favorite line in this manual is, "radiation is naturally occurring . . . "  They omit the fact that it is naturally occurring in small amounts unless you live in a uranium mine.  I'd say that there is a pretty big difference between naturally occurring background radiation and nuclear reactor undergoing an emergency "situation."

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Speaking of crime, a friend of mine inherited some property from an aunt in rural Conway County, Arkansas.  Their aunt's old single wide is still on the old homestead.  It's certainly nothing fancy.  And, the trailer is next door to her cousin who has a well deserved reputation as a crazy bad-ass.  This has not stopped people from kicking in the front door twice and stealing some of the appliances.  

My friend's solution?  They found some magic voodoo signs in a book and drew them on the trailer with red spray paint.  They also wrote, "I do Hoodoo, steal from me and eat live things," beside the glyphs.  No one has touched the trailer since.  

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Miniature Disasters - Part II

It was a long night. Two very nice gentlemen from the Pope County Sheriff's Office came out to the Devil Queen. They toured the house, took photos and dusted for prints. Unfortunately, except for the foot print on the front door, there were no prints of any sort. According to the deputies, wood (in general and painted in particular) and door knobs don't hold finger prints very well. After they'd finished their work and left, I jury rigged the door and cleaned up enough to have some place to sleep. It was 2 AM at that point. The bedroom was still a mess, so I passed out on the couch.

Fortunately, I had Tuesday off since it was Veterans' Day. I spent most of the day cleaning up the wreckage.

While cleaning, I found the following items were missing from the Devil Queen:

1) A compound miter saw
2) An electric drill
3) A Skilsaw
3) Two guns (one a very expensive Dan Wesson revolver)
4) A DVD player
5) My digital camera
6) One pair of sterling silver, Edwardian cufflinks
7) A 14 carat gold tie tack with small rubies and emeralds.
8) Around 200 CDs.

Totaled with the damage to the door and the cost to replace it, we were left with a $4,000 insurance claim. Our insurance company, Traveler Insurance, was very pleasant. I'd never filed any sort of insurance claim in my life, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Like most, I'd heard horror stories. Fortunately, I have none to share. The only thing that sucked about the whole insurance experience was the $1,000 deductible. So, even though we got a new door and decent chunk of money, a lot of what was taken has not been replaced. The man-jewelry was all antique and one-of-a-kind so replacing it isn't really possible.

I spent Wednesday faxing and emailing descriptions of all of our stuff to every pawn shop and antique store I could find in our area. Nothing that was taken has shown up to date.

I heard from my in-laws a month or two ago two guys, one 18 and the other 21 or 22, were arrested for burglary in Pope County. If they were in fact the ones who broke into the Devil Queen, they certainly haven't volunteered any information. I can't help but wonder though.

In any case, the whole experienced sucked. Shocking, I know. Scarlet and I both find it ironic that we've been robbed twice at the Devil Queen. In our years together, we've lived in Washington, D.C., Rockville, Maryland, and a slummy area of Savannah, Georgia. I spent most of my life in Little Rock while it was over run with gangs. We've lived other places too. Everyone was so worried when we moved to the big city, but we never had much of a problem anywhere. We move back Scarlet's ancestrial home, and we get robbed twice in two years. It makes you wonder about all that horse shit about how small communities are safer and more family friendly places.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Miniature Disasters - Part I

November 10th last year, I came home late. I'd eaten dinner with my sister and brother-in-law and didn't make it home until just after 10 PM. As I walked to the front of the house, I noticed the ladder that I'd left leaning against the porch posts had fallen over. I thought that it was a little odd, but I figured the wind and storms we'd been having must have blown it over. Then, as I rounded the corner, I saw that the front door was standing wide open. For a moment I thought that the wind had blown the door open too, but the splintered wood and broken doorknob proved me wrong. The door had obviously been kicked-in.

At this point, most people ask me what I did, and when I tell them that I went into the house, some of them are mortified. "What if they'd still been there?" To be honest, I didn't consider it much at the time because I was pretty sure that no one was still there.

We live in the middle of nowhere, so any thief with hopes of taking more than they could easily carry and walk with for a few miles would have to bring a car, truck, or four-wheeler at least. The house was dead silent too. The Devil Queen reverbs with sound like an acoustic guitar. Any significant noise is amplified and projected. When I'm out in the garden, I can easily hear Gideon's footsteps as he runs from one end of the house to the other.

It took a while to figure out what happened, or what we think happened. Our guess is that some time during the day, probably between 10 AM to 3 PM, two young men between the ages of 18-22 drove out to the Devil Queen. They probably live in the area (Atkins, Crow Mountain, or even Russellville) and have friends or know people in our neighborhood. They probably drive by on a semi-regular basis. They know everyone's schedules and knew that not only would we be at work, but that most of our neighbors would be too. The front door is hard to see from the road, so they were sheltered from view once they made it to the porch.

The industrious little bastards that they were, they apparently tried to disassemble the lock with a screw driver and some WD-40 that I'd left on the porch with all the junk for installing the storm windows. I'm not sure what they hoped to accomplish with the WD-40. Aside from making the front door slick, it looks like it just made a mess and pissed them off. They broke the doorknob off, and at this point, they just kicked in the door.

Things get strange at this point. Who ever had the WD-40 was either:

a.) Very nervous and forgot they were spraying WD-40 in all the excitement of breaking and entering,
b.) Was hoping to obscure their fingerprints with the WD-40,
c.) Was a vandalizing jerk in addition to being a thief, or
d.) Some combination of all of the above.

Personally, I believe that it was a combination of b.& c. as did the Pope County Sheriff's Deputies.

In any case, the dick with the WD-40 ran from the front door to the chest of drawers in the foyer, from the chest of drawers to the armoire in the hall, and from the armoire to the master bedroom. They went to the dresser, the two night stands, and the small armoire in the corner. All piece of furniture above and the floor in between were coated in WD-40. This included the mirror on the dresser. Not only did they probably spray off the entire can, but they apparently took it with them since we never found it.

Aside from the front door which was ruined, the master bedroom was the worst. A pillow case had been stripped from the bed and used to haul off the loot. The mattress was slide off to one side, our clothes were all over and with WD-40 on them, the contents of my armoire were thrown all over the room, and everything was a mess in general.

Another odd bit about this robbery was Gideon's room. Someone went into his room and threw the closet door open. The closet only had some old clothes and shoes, so they didn't take anything. Then they ran over to Gideon's night stand which is really a small cabinet. It's about 2 1/2 feet tall and has two hinged doors on the front. They are held closed by a simple, light-weight hooked latch. The doors were thrown open without out opening the latch, and the hook portion was torn out of the wood. What they found inside were four of Gideon's favorite Matchbox cars and a story book which he'd placed there himself Sunday. Apparently, they had a moment of conscious and turned around and left. They didn't have the heart to rob a four year old, which as Scarlet said, "almost made it hard to totally hate them." They didn't take his 13 inch TV, his DVD player, or video game. They left the movies and games too.

The rest of the house was hit or miss. They stole power tools from the junk room at the front of the house. They took the DVD player from the built-in in the living room, but left the record player, the speakers, and the receiver. The dining room was untouched as was the kitchen. The pantry at the very back of the house was torn to pieces, but nothing was taken. The were obviously in a hurry.

Anyhow, it made for a long night. I'll try to finish up Part II and post it tomorrow.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Side Projects

Here is one on the projects that have been keeping me so busy this year. I am now offering limited edition prints of this painting, 100 prints total. The print image is 16" x 22." The prints are individually signed and number by me and are being sold for $75 a each. If you are interested, please email me here. I hope to have more details on these prints posted next week


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Making the Grade

It has been brought to my attention that the Devil Queen has made another Top Ten list. We are officially the poster child for what can and will go wrong in home improvement. Definately fitting, no?


Friday, March 06, 2009

Hello All.

I have a few minutes, so I thought I'd try to catch up some here at the Devil Queen.

First, I'd like to thank everyone who voted on the front door, even my mother who voted for "burn in hell." And, special thanks to Boy141 and the Home Improvement Ninja for trying to hook me up with some affordable door options.

Second, I would like to thank Janine for the outstanding links, particularly for bringing F*** My Life ( to my attention. It is lovely reading which kept me occupied for hours.

Third, I think I'll try to start catching up on the last few months next week. It'll probably make the most sense if I start at the beginning, so I'll start with a more detailed telling of the night of November 10, 2008, and everything that came after that.

Until then, enjoy the weekend. I plan to do so.


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