In The Details – Final

The small drawing-roomThe strongest memory I have of the drawing room is the smell.
There was a salty sea-like smell, almost a taste. The nearest piece of coastline was more than 60 miles away. The smell began tickling your nostrils a few paces away from the door. Once you entered the room, it became almost sweet. Like the smell of meat just before it turns. The strangest thing was that the smell would stay with my shoes for days afterwards.
was exquisitely neat and smelled of burnt lavender. There were some Dresden shepherds and shepherdessesThey were somewhat cracked and crumbled, much like the host.The two figures shared three hands between them and the legs of the bases were broken: they listed towards each other like drunkards on a street corner on a Saturday night., on the mantelpieceIf I hadn’t had to sit through hours of his blathering about it before he had it installed, I would have sworn that the mantelpiece was made of lino. Bargain bin cast offs at that. As it was, I knew that he’d paid through the nose to have it imported from Balochistan. The stone itself wasn’t cheap, but the bribes for the Customs officials to turn a blind eye to the boys he was smuggling in with the stone had nearly bankrupted him. “Worth every penny,” he had leered at me over a glass of port one night., simpering sweetly. There were framed water-coloursThe frames at least matched the elegance of the furniture: rich, smooth, wood; crisp lines. The paintings themselves were a different story. The scenes depicted were easily recognisable as various views from the gardens because the house itself was so striking. The technique left something to be desired, however. The flat washes were heavy-handed and the wet in wet looked more like accidents than artistic endeavour., two samplers“ABCDEFGHIJKL
Erica Roberts
July, 1956″
How… unimaginative.
, and three needlework picturesThe most polite way to describe the content of the pictures would be “unconventional.” At first glance they seemed innocent enough, but perhaps haphazardly made. Closer inspection revealed something perhaps more sinister: occult symbols and iconography. I never dared to ask directly if the pictures were their equivalent of a crucifix, for fear of a direct answer. on the wall. There were some photographsSeventeen. The number of photos he had of his niece and two nephews was now seventeen. The first few that went up felt like he was just the proud uncle. After the tenth one found its place on the the wall it started to become a little odd. Then he started making ever more elaborate frames for them: card; tissue paper; buttons; glitter.I suppose that’s why he was always hanging around Mrs Williams’ haberdashery as a boy. of what were obviously nephews and nieces and some good furniture – a Chippendale deskThe desk was exquisite: a thing of beauty. It was one of the few things in the house that I coveted. While so many other things were in a state of disrepair (the curtains, the Afghans), he kept the desk in the most mint of conditions. I would have loved to have a rummage around in his drawers, but he never left it unattended. It was almost as if he was frightened it would run off if it looked around and realised where it was., some little satin-wood tablesThe tables were of such a high quality and craftsmanship that the knitted coasters splayed upon them jarred all the more. The surfaces were often slightly sticky to the touch, as though they’d been cleaned in a hurry upon hearing the door bell. – and a hideous and rather uncomfortable Victorian sofaI chose to remain standing rather than sit on the sofa. It’s not so much the uncomfortableness of it, more that dark patch at one end. Who knows what it is, or how long it’s been there. Are those claw marks in the wood? My goodness.
Posted in 2011-10-24 to 2011-11-13 - In The Details | 2 Comments

2 Responses to In The Details – Final

  1. andrew says:

    So creepy – loved the way this rather innocent paragraph ended up so full of foreboding. Enjoyed the way the first few entries get increasingly ugly and like how it never becomes too explicitly weird.

    My favourite bits: ‘the smell would stay on my shoes for days afterwards’ and ‘that dark patch…’

  2. jo says:

    Deliciously creepy! All these hints and outright glimpses of wrongness hiding everywhere. I very much liked the unusual ways the place was… well, unusual – the smell of the sea, the sticky tables, the strange mantelpiece. Delightful and unexpected! The language leaps off the page – “the smell of meat before it turns”, “listed towards each other like drunkards”, “cleaned up in a hurry upon hearing the doorbell”. Unusual and evocative. The atmosphere just teams with soupy horror.

    Things that did not quite work for me – the haberdashery, the occult symbols, perhaps the claw marks too. A little more obvious than the more unexpected other signs. But this is a minor quib. Great story!