Anguish threw her vile smell around the house like a cat who sprays the coffee pot. Strings of tension gave rise to erect hair follicles like they always did when something horrible was about to happen. Mom and my little sister Rosa were nowhere to be found.
Dad’s car was parked in the back of the house, and he was passed out in his bedroom. The only other possibility was a house Mom told us she cleaned for extra money. I had briefly met Mr. and Mrs. Barnes, who lived four houses down from us, but I had never been there. I knew I had to investigate as I worried about my little sister Rosa.
The Barnes’ house was open. As I walked through the door, I called for Rosa and Mom, but it was quiet. I felt something crawling up my legs and was mortified to see fleas. I watched them leap from the grimy carpet onto my tanned skin. They were biting me as they moved like a shadow up my legs to the bottom of my shorts.
Next, I wander on into the kitchen. I noticed the dishes were piled all over the dining table, countertops, and the two sinks full of pots and pans—the odor had company. There were ants, roaches, and old food stuck to them. Flies were everywhere, and the fleas were still biting me.
My father, having retired from the military, would have never stepped foot in a house in this kind of condition. I immediately wondered what Mom had been doing there as she obviously had not been cleaning. The Barnes had quite a standing and respect in the community, so the condition of their house was shocking.
Calling for Mom, I moved cautiously to the only other open door, the primary bedroom. Inside were obscene magazines about sadomasochism, and all around the unmade bed were objects I had never seen before: masks, whips, hooks, and disgusting attire. I was naïve, but I felt dirty just walking into this room. Even though I never heard a sound, I knew the only place left where they could be was the basement.
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