The frame was encircled by overgrown ivy, brittle and grey, and the elevated concrete porch was littered with Doritos bags and beer cans, which I could see only from the sodium lights of streetlamps dotting the curb below. I lit up a Marlboro as I heard Ryan praise Margot’s sculptures (if you can call them that) and idled by the short ledge looking down upon a small, sad iron merry-go-round that could only comfortably accommodate three children.
“That’s where the kids used to play.” A tall guy standing in the shadows, clutching a solo cup, half-smiled at me. He wore a wrinkled white shirt; a flop of sandy blonde hair curled above his right eye.
“That girl over there—she was just telling me…” He pointed to the dark corner of the patio where a young girl with a floral laurel sat with two other young boys. She looked like a hippie despite having hit puberty well into the new millennium. “The history of this house. I’m Sebastian.” His hand shifted the bones in mine with his grasp, causing such unexpected pain that I was barely able to say my name.
“Apparently it used to belong to the cult of Nuwaubianism. She didn’t seem to know the origins of the religion, but a very large commune lived here; they thought they were an alien species who landed here to conquer the planet. They said their green skin oxidized in this atmosphere, so that’s why they were Black. The leader—some old guy with mutton chops I suppose—impregnated a lot of women, including his sisters and daughters, and was eventually arrested for rape and child molestation, but converted an impressive number of followers to the cult. She said each child was born in the house, and each placenta was buried in the front yard.”
“That tree does look like it’s well fertilized.” I sipped my piss beer, turning away—despite being intrigued by both the story and the man, I couldn’t tame my shyness.
He laughed. “Apparently the cult was ousted by the government a couple years ago, but they still operate a bookstore across the street.”