Friday, December 21, 2012
Abandonment Issues: Johnny Cochrane's House
"If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."
If the lawn is overgrown, and the NO TRESPASSING signs are fading atop a crumbling wooden fence, you must approach cautiously for a closer look.
If the windows are broken or covered in wooden slats, and the paint is peeling, you must reach for the door handle.
If you find yourself photographing fake flower crosses, creepy cob-web covered doll heads, and old pill bottles, you must have found the former home of John Cochrane, along a winding back road in Marmora, Ontario.
From outside, you probably notice the contrast of what appears to be a rather new tin roof atop this crumbling old shack. Inside, the stripped bare walls likely give you the impression that this home was abandoned in the middle of a renovation. The bags of Stone Mix piled atop the coffee table affirm this hunch, surely.
Immediately after, Mr. Cochrane reveals himself. He shares his story with you, through the things and stuff that he could not take with him, proving the old proverb true. Your fingers rifle through his record collection, touching what he once heard. You're fiancee bends down and picks up a fake flower cross, a memorial to John, or one of his loved ones, presumably, and she hands it you. In turn, you reach up and hang it from a nail high on the wall above the table at which he once ate. You step back to photograph it, and step on a depleted and dirty old Toronto Blue Jays bean bag chair upon which he once sat, kicking up a mushroom cloud of dust.
Every few minutes, as you traverse piles of dirty old clothing, and magazines and newspapers dated between the 1960s and the 1980s, you encounter another cob-web covered doll or doll head. You and your fiancee discuss why this is such a creepy recurring discovery; the primary and solitary function of these dolls was to bring joy to little girls, but alas, here they sit, used up and forgotten. Dusty, dirty and dismembered. Naked. Cob webs now cling to fake eyelashes and the hair that a little girl once brushed with love and care.
1984, you concur. That is when this home was abandoned, judging by the dates on the calendars and newspapers that you both are excavating from the mountains and dremlins of stuff that make up the floor of this archaeological site.
You pick up bible after bible from the coffee table and flip through the pages that he once read. You are touching what he once saw, what he once may have believed with a sincerity that you can't begin to understand. As the pages flutter through your fingers, the clicking camera in her hands breaks the moment of silence.
There is something about holding a dead man's signature in your hand, that is hard to put into words. How it feels, I mean, not the texture of the bank receipt itself, which is course with dust and cob webs, but the feeling inside of one's self. He may have called it a soul, I don't know. Something spiritual, I guess. A connection, or a lack of connection, I'm not sure. But you feel it. Reviewing his old bills from Ontario Hydro, and passing his pill bottles back and forth, discussing the common uses of each medication that he had been prescribed by his local doctor, and filled by his local pharmacy. It all reveals more of the story. The plot thickens, but never comes to a boil.
The character development continues, much like it would unfold in a great novel, at times painting vivid pictures, other times, leaving massive voids of both information and chronology, and leaving plenty to the imagination. The difference between exploring abandoned houses such as this one, and reading a great novel, is that the ending of the story is open to interpretation.
Home is where the hurt is
The vase of our lives
Fake plastic flowers
Mister Cochrane's kitchen
People under the stairs
The Barber of Seville
The Story of Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates
You now have a credit of 90.73
Please sign in presence of teller
Tuesday, December 11, 1984
December 29, 1984
Brush it off
The words of God
No Room in the Inn
The hands of Godlessness
You depart from the home, closing the book on John Cochrane, unaware of how his story ended. You continue down the road ahead, starting a new chapter of your own.
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