Thursday, December 13, 2012

Caul's House

I recently heard from a dear, old friend after a long hiatus.  This is an essay that I wrote 
in college, after visiting him in his new digs.  

Caul speaks with only a slight southern accent.  Underneath a shock of brown hair are two blue eyes ringed by golden flecks of color.  His skin is freckled.  Around his wrist is an old watch on a greasy band.  As he guides me through his house, he gestures and points with excitement.  The house is located at the edge of four adjacent parking lots in downtown Salt Lake City.  It consists of three large rooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen.  All of the rooms face northward, and there are high ceilings and long, tall windows.  Each room is a compositional masterpiece arranged by Caul.

The front door opens on the living room.  One corner houses a large industrial heater, with several curving pipes that pierce the ceiling.  In the center of the room is Caul's desk:  a fragment of an enormous, metal Sinclair Oil sign supporting a thick, glass bank door.  This desk fills the entire room and is covered with books, magazines, pens, and projects.  It is a central feature in his house, hinting at his obsession with design.

The bedroom is relatively empty, except for a single mattress resting on two rough wooden pallets, and an old stool.  The bed is near three tall windows, and breezes blow white, lacy curtains across the sheets. Green ribbons hold a few of the curtains in place against their dark wooden frames. Occasionally, the lace blows outward, and touches red stone window ledges.  The bed looks so comfortable.  Caul has a difficult time getting up in the morning, which is understandable.  On the floor, at the foot of the bed is a broken brick, isolated and somehow important.  The old stool in the corner belonged to his grandfather in Louisiana.

The study contains a brown, leather armchair with a footrest.  Ringed around the room, on the floor, books line the walls, and large grey stones serve as bookends.  His favorite book is Walden.  All four of the walls in the room are papered, but the ceiling is bare.  It is raw concrete, pink and yellow with erosion.  The thin cracks are filled with plaster.  One exposed bulb hangs from the cement.  The texture reminds him of rock formations.  It is his favorite room.

The bathroom and the kitchen are both sunny.  The tub is old and rounded, with claw feet.  Beside it, is a child's rusty beach pail, filled with shampoo bottles.  There are several exotic oriental soap bars and a razor on the shelf, beneath a cracked mirror.  In the black and white tiled kitchen, is a leaded glass cabinet full of the dishes that Caul has collected for years.  Plants in clay pots rest on the window sills. He shows me a tiny ceramic skunk, as I drink lemon-water from a ribbed green glass.  And, he tells me that he loves his house.

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