May 14, 2014

Ted Jean

Open House: Price Reduced

How many summer weeks of hundred plus heat have clouded the clerestory of this defiled modern house with cobwebs, dust and the dried, still-drifting mist of blood? Redwood boards and battens stained black cherry by the chemistry of tannins and frequent fog, turn inward to burnt violet vertical resawn siding of three hundred-year-old clear heart redwood that still smells of the mill, sheltered sixty years beneath a vault of rough redwood rafters lifting a bony lattice of redwood skip sheathing to carry a coarse husk of heavy, hand-split “Hollywood” shakes of yes, you guessed, old redwood.

Old Bob Dwyer lowered his ailing elderly wife into precisely this bathtub, and with his still strong mottled arms and crooked fingers, drowned her, then blew his brains out across that redwood bedroom wall.


When we got back from the restaurant and waited as the garage door rose, coyote cried, piteous, from the field above our acre. Neck-snared, no doubt, by the contractor building a house in the neighboring woods, she thrashed in the brush to find and escape her narrow assassin, mourned, as only a canine can, the near approach of her death, and warned away her pups.

By one o’clock when we’d had not a wink of sleep, and she doggedly yowled, I pled the plan to my wife, rose from our restless bed, retrieved the .410 pump Remington from the closet, and the lithium battery flashlight from the hallway, crossed the dark yard in bare-foot sorrow, climbed the back fence and found her.


A carpenter, Ted Jean writes, paints, plays tennis with lovely Lai Mei. His work appears in Beloit Poetry Journal, [PANK], DIAGRAM, Gargoyle, and dozens of other publications.

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