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Just down the street and around the corner from my home, there’s a house that’s been bought and sold three times within the past eighteen months. I’ve seen the realtor signs adorning the front yard of this proud and presentable home, a domicile that doesn’t appear to have any particular exterior defects. And yet, the moving truck continues to return to swallow everything it only recently gave up, and “Sold” turns back to “For Sale.”
I’m not sure why.
I would assume that as each of the mortgages took shape, a typical inspection was performed and the house was ultimately judged as both habitable and sellable. If that’s true, then why the frequent turnover? The home is on a quiet, but vivacious, street. It is surrounded by friendly neighbors. And from what I can tell, it has a reasonably sized yard edged by a shallow forest. I pass it every day on my way to the office, and as I do, I glance and admit to its appeal as a place to raise a family, perhaps even being the kind of locale to which the children would one day return with their own families to visit Gramma and Grampa in their twilight years.
So what is it, then?
I suggested to my wife that perhaps the house is haunted. She laughed at me at first because she knows I don’t believe in ghosts. But I was serious—not in the sense that it might really be ghosts, but rather because it might be inhabited by the devil. My thought is that maybe this is one of his vacation homes.
As a pastor, the more I learn the devil’s routines in this world, the more I suspect he has a comfort zone, and its one that I think he’s willing to shake up only a little. With that, why not vacation in Michigan? It can be hellishly familiar while at the same time being off just enough to be counted as a vacation.
For example, it’s ungodly cold for eight months of the year, and while that doesn’t match the thermostat in hell, it certainly keeps to the theme of suffering. Also, Michigan has tons of lakes. None of the lakes are comprised of burning sulfur, like the one just outside the devil’s kitchen window in hell, although I hear that because of pollution, there are a few near the cities that could potentially ignite.
Michigan also has a Liquor Control Commission that severely hinders her citizens from accessing a good number of the finer whiskies enjoyed by so many in other states. This particular detail does double-duty as it meets the devil’s vacationing standards.
First, and easiest, it keeps with the suffering theme. Second, it matches the devil’s work ethic. He’s a busy guy who, even while on vacation, doesn’t like to be too far away from his trade endeavors. He’s the hairy guy you see wearing the Speedo in the chaise lounge beside the pool scanning excel spreadsheets and responding to texts from the office. He’s also the kind of guy who will do this in one of his own resorts just to keep an eye on it. Since the Michigan Liquor Control Commission is technically an extension of his reign, it makes sense that he’d land in some inconspicuous house within the confines of its regional governance in order to monitor its terror infliction.
I’m also thinking there’s a good chance the varying homeowners didn’t necessarily discover his presence because the lights were flickering, the cupboard doors were opening and closing on their own, or the children were hovering above their beds. My guess is that empty bottles of Old Forester kept showing up and they couldn’t figure out why. After consulting various volumes on the occult, and maybe even having a sit-down with their priest, they learned what twenty-five years of skipping church couldn’t teach: Old Forester is a favorite of Satan.
And why wouldn’t it be?
The first wafting from this $20 Bourbon smells a little bit like a can of soggy green beans. That’s weird, and almost certainly a sign of devilry. Give the dram a twirl, fan the space above it, and then give it another sniff. You’ll discover hope in the form of cinnamon-sprinkled rye and bubble gum. But another sniff dashes that hope, seeing it submerged in the polymer-like smell of a brand new Speedo. And your only thought: Thankfully, this skimpy male covering I’m nosing is fresh out of the package and not drying beside the pool.
The mouth feel is warmly pleasant, but after a savoring moment, it becomes something along the lines of a flavored cigarette smoldering in an ash tray that’s beside and downwind from a piece of rye toast. Thankfully there’s orange marmalade on the toast.
The finish is longer than most, leaving too much spice behind to burn your tongue and cause grief.
I can see why the devil might drink this, not to mention why my state’s Liquor Control Commission would allow for its abundant availability.
And as you can see, I have my suspicions as to how all of it might be connected to an unassuming, proud, and presentable house just down the street and around the corner from my own—one that, for some reason, cannot be retained by anyone for any length of time.