HOW TO STEAL A HOUSE (IN THREE EASY STEPS) by GJ Hart

1

May 18, 2016 by RJ

 

I

To steal a house, you must understand a house, and Jason understands the detached Georgian villa better than its owners. High on imported bubble gum and dressed to endeavour in snake cuts and plaid hackneys, he slips through a window and drops quietly to the floor.

Out front, Debbie keeps watch from the front seat of a 1969 convertible s460. She spears cold katsudon from a leaking punnet and is dressed penny simple, in spaghetti straps, fangtooth mules and a pearl necklace lifted from a high rise in Chernobyl.

Jason begins in the kitchen: he exchanges espresso cups and stone glazed chargers with exact replicas. He does the same with the silverware and appliances. He continues until the entire room is forged. Then he throws the remainders into black bags and hurries on.

In the bathroom, Jason replaces toe nail clippings with his own; in the bedroom: the cum stains and dried blood he finds on the brushed steel headboard. In the study, he reads, to read is enough, the tiny notes he discovers hidden in a cigar box beneath floorboards. When he’s done, he retraces his steps and leaves.

Debbie drops the empty punnet to the kerb just as Jason appears and jumps into the rear seat

“Done?” She says, wiping her mouth.

“Done,” says Jason.

Later, as Jason balances a Bloody Mary, Debbie fucks memories into their brand new foam topper. Tomorrow they will return for the furnishings.

 

II

Mrs Root couldn’t remember entering the competition but was more than happy to accept the prize, after all, she assured herself, a holiday once taken, is difficult to claim back. But the holiday is cheap and eviscerated of comfort and they return home miserable and sick to the stomach.

After dumping their luggage in the hallway, Mrs Root takes their daughter upstairs and Mr Root retires to the kitchen to make coffee. The heating is on but the house feels cold and as he reaches for cups he becomes pensive and his mind, as if infected with malicious code, slows.

He fumbles with the kettle and while spooning out granules, unexpected and unbidden memories flood back. He remembers the day he was shown into Mr Triton’s office and asked to pack his things and how the accusations still stalk him to this day.

Upstairs he hears his wife thundering from room to room. He calls to her and she calls back: nothing’s wrong, nothing’s wrong.

He notices the pack of party balloons gummed to the fridge door. The balloons remain as they were left: sky blue and packed beneath plastic in a multiple of ten. He wants to convince himself something is wrong but he can’t and the conclusion brings no consolation. An hour later, Mrs Root finds him curled and weeping beneath the extendable breakfast bar.

 

III

After jumping a moving sushi train, Jason and Debbie hit the road.

Jason is bedizened to complete in chromed bulchers and tattersall check. Debbie is triple take, in belted guayabera and an emerald ushanka, snatched from the migraine of a bad man in Chelsea.

She pulls up outside the house and Jason gets out. He walks up the garden path and, finding the front door open, raps hard on the frame. Inside, an argument is raging and only after knocking again – so forcefully he nearly splits wood – does Mrs Root finally appear.

“I’ve come for the house,” says Jason

Mrs Root pulls her dressing gown tight. Her hair is electrified and a tearful child hangs from her side. Behind her, Mr Root cowers at the kitchen door, naked except for underpants.

“The house?”

“Yes, the house. It’s time to leave. Could you sign here please.”

Jason hands her the clipboard

“Bu.., ” she begins.

“Just sign please.”

Mrs Root takes the clipboard and in one, slow motion, signs the document.

“Come on then, time to go,” says Jason, smiling.

Desperate for support, she turns to her husband, but he drops his head drops and his body begins to shake. Confounded and entirely beaten, she grabs her daughter’s hand and they step out into the cold, January morning.

Seeing them go, Mr Root makes a grudging attempt to cover himself with a dirty tea towel printed with every significant historical site in Dorset.

“Leave it,” says Jason.

“Ok,” he says and, letting the tea towel fall, shuffles after his family.

After watching them wander into the distance, Jason motions to Debbie. She steps out of the 460 and Jason sees she is clutching balloons, five in each hand. They swirl madly around her in the wind.

As she walks toward him, Jason pulls down his glasses.

“You look different today,” he says, half smiling, half not.

Debbie hands him a balloon, pats his cheek and disappears inside the house.

 


 

GJ HART currently lives and works in Brixton, London and has been published or has work upcoming in The Jersey Devil Press, The Harpoon Review, 99 Pine Street, The Jellyfish Review, Foliate Oak, The Eunoia Review, and others.

 

 

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