Preview of Unsaid Six: They Used to Build Mansions Here, by Tom McCartan

Crisenberry used to sleep with a rifle next to him but his friends had to take it away when he started talking about killing himself. One morning he woke up with the barrel in his mouth. He said he didn’t know what happened because he was drunk, but his friends had gotten calls that night from some of his ex-girlfriends. He had been contacting them at different times during the night with varying levels of depravity, but he said he didn’t remember any of it.

He lived next door to drug dealers and people were always cutting through his yard to buy drugs. He said that’s why he had the rifle in the first place. When he would have his friends over they were amazed at the honesty of this fear. There was a procession of junkies rolling through his yard that started at dusk and didn’t stop until the next morning. The house he lived in was an old three story mansion built when people in Ypsilanti were building mansions. It had fallen into disrepair and was kept from condemnation only because college kids were willing to live in it.

His roommate, Dallas, was a twenty year old college student who had a bunch of teenage friends. Crisenberry was almost thirty. Dallas had three testicles. Crisenberry knew this because one night he was hanging out with Dallas and his friends in the living room when, out of no where, they all started making fun of his third nut. Dallas was embarrassed but his friends didn’t stop. It got worse when their teasing turned into genuine curiosity and they started asking him practical questions which, being of an age, Dallas had no choice but to address. The conversation lasted an eternity and Crisenberry was petrified. He couldn’t believe that Dallas’s friends would administer so round a lashing. They were all suburban sociopaths.

The mansion had been turned into a duplex years ago, and living in the other half was a deaf alcoholic. He loved music and would put records on at full blast and sing along. It  sounded like someone screaming and grunting. When Crisenberry first heard this he ran next door to see if everything was alright. He pounded on the door but his neighbor never came out because he was deaf and couldn’t hear him knocking. Dallas, who had lived there much longer than Crisenberry, told him that he needed to learn how to ignore their deaf housemate if he was going to keep living there. This was especially difficult considering the deaf man had a burning passion for prostitutes and would bring them home on the regular. This lust for hookers, combined with his destitution, caused for some rough characters to promenade through their yard. Oftentimes the hookers would go to the drug house next door first and then go visit the deaf man. The noise would start when the drugged hookers knocked on the deaf man’s door. He, again, couldn’t hear them so they’d knock harder and start yelling. An Ypsilanti hooker can’t afford to waste time standing on someone’s doorstep. With this in mind their yelling would turn to cursing and pounding. This would last for about ten minutes all while working up to a crescendo. Amazingly, more often than not, the deaf man would eventually open the door. The noise that would follow was a combination of music turned all the way up through blown-out speakers and the chorus of lovemaking that only an old prostitute and a deaf alcoholic can make, full of guttural, atonal grunting and smoker’s coughs.

Crisenberry began visiting the deaf man because he liked to be around people that didn’t talk too much. They would drink together and not talk to each other. The deaf man had a six foot long corn snake that he kept in a terrarium in his bedroom. Crisenberry liked to watch the snake and whenever it was time to feed it the deaf man would always call on him. The two of them would watch transfixed as the snake choked out mice and swallowed them whole.

The deaf man drank more than Crisenberry, but they both drank a lot. Crisenberry often felt guilty for drinking, as he felt guilty about indulging himself at all. He was Catholic and could not enjoy himself without guilt. He became Catholic because of a girl and it ruined his life. One night he came home and the deaf man was in the front yard. He was moaning and doubled over. His moans doubled into bellows. He had his corn snake wrapped around his arm. He alternated between vomiting on the lawn and telling the snake that everything was going to be alright. Through his crying and vomiting he didn’t notice Crisenberry, who stood there watching as the deaf man pleaded with his snake. 

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2 Responses to Preview of Unsaid Six: They Used to Build Mansions Here, by Tom McCartan

  1. What Barry Hannah is to Mississippi, McCartan is to Michigan.

  2. Tom McCartan is the next big Gerontius Mex.

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