Several patches of mushrooms, each maybe a foot or so wide, five feet long, appeared in the back yard after a particularly wet spell of weather, as mushrooms will do. The patches formed a checkerboard filling most of the yard. The house, being new to me, revealed surprises like that as we grew to know each other. I’d purchased the property only a few months ago, after a job relocation from up north. Given a choice of Colorado, with its mountains and outdoor activities, or Texas, as in middle of, which is the same as middle of nowhere, I chose Colorado. The Rocky Mountains always feel like home to me somehow.
The previous owner, a reclusive old man, accepted my below-market offer. Motivated seller, according to the real estate agent. Weekends and evenings I spent time improving the fixer-upper, and discovered that the second floor had once been set up as a separate apartment, with holes in the floor as testament to pipes for a stove and water for a sink. That explained the additional framing around the threshold to the dining room, which when removed, showed a curious dark stain on the hardwood flooring.
Then there was the addition of the laundry room off the back, with a crawl space of bare dirt which emitted a musty odor that contributed to the overall impression of ‘old people’. I asked a contractor to price out the cost of finishing the dirt floor of the crawl space to keep down the populations of rodents.
That’s when the first bone was discovered. A finger bone, from the looks of it. And then more bones. And I remembered the mushrooms, fungus that grows on rotting material, like corpses.