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Rated: E · Novel · Mystery · #2260621
He had a feeling this was the doorway to something, even if he didn't know what it was.
The House on Haring Road


The house looked haunted, right off the bat. It sat perched on an urban hill, making it the tallest structure in the neighborhood.

"Like me," said Jet to himself, as he stood looking up at the house from the bottom of the stone stairs, which meandered back and forth through the terraces that marched up from the sidewalk. The terraces, a half-dozen at least, bristled with succulents, bright splayed fingers of orange, red, pink, and white poking up from the tops of the cactus plants.

Jet started up the stairs. Old houses stood their ground all over this part of Oakland, but this was the only Queen Anne Victorian on Haring Road, at least in this block. He knew about Victorians from Maeve, who had pushed him to buy theirs in San Francisco's Noe Vally, a few blocks from the Mission Dolores. Maeve was constantly reading about Victorians and pointing them out when they wandered up and down the hills of Dolores Street, cars whizzing past the middle strip that sported the street's trademark row of palm trees, block after block of them. Palms were not native to the Bay Area, but somehow these ones flourished, perhaps because the neighborhood was uncharacteristically sunny and relatively warm for San Francisco. Jet missed living in the City. But that was then, and he was an East Bay boy now.

Facing the street, the Queen Anne's distinguishing rounded turret, dressed in faded brown shingles, rose up along a corner of the house. Hearing the flapping of fabric, Jet swept his eyes up the turret and spotted, at the tip of the turret's pointed cap, a striped, multi-colored flag. He wondered how someone had gotten up there to place the flag. Someone determined, he figured.

Jet was supposed to meet the landlord on the third floor. The guy had introduced himself over the phone as Malcolm and had told Jet he would leave the front door open, so just come on up. Before pushing the door open, Jet turned and looked out over the neighborhood. No visible gangs, no gunfire, but then again, it was mid-day, so an open front door was probably okay, at least for a while.

In the foyer, a single door stood guard to the right, with a brass number 1 hanging from a nail. Jett wondered if this would be his apartment. Reaching out, he ran his finger along the pebbled brass surface of the number. He swiped it to the side, and it scraped back and forth along the surface of the door. Jet pulled his hand back - this might not be the vacant apartment, someone could be in there, someone wondering who was out there brushing something against the door and how they had gotten into the foyer.

The stairs shot straight up, narrow and dark. Jet began the climb. If old had a scent, this was it. Old wood, old paint, old stories whispered within the walls. And if destiny had a feel, this was also it.

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