The Gardener’s Cottage

RDP Friday: Foreboding

Down the hill from my family home is a little storehouse called the Gardener’s  Cottage. Not that my family was ever in the position to have a full time live in gardener, that’s just what we called it.

The Gardener’s cottage.

For years and years it was covered with ivy and blackberry vines and you could smell the rat pee on hot days from yards away.

I was told there was probably still some furniture in there and maybe some pots and pans. But nothing of real value.

Left on it’s own, the  Cottage would have  eventually been crushed to death by all of the vines that had wrapped themselves around  it’s crumbling frame, but one Fourth of July – or maybe it was on a Labor Day my cousins were shooting off bottle rockets and it set the dry vines on fire.

My Grandfather was all for letting the fire burn itself out, but my Mom pointed out that the flames were more likely to spread and did he really want to be known as the man whose Grandchildren set the town on fire?

Did we really need anymore of those kinds of silly stories about our family floating around Mixie’s Diner or the social hour after Church on Sundays?

Grandfather guessed not, so the fire was put out and afterwards the Gardner’s Cottage – blackened and crumbling was left standing down the hill from our house.


Just before Halloween I decided to go and take a look at the Gardner’s Cottage, I had the idea I could take some pictures and maybe have them made into Halloween Cards.

So I grabbed my camera, whistled for my dog and off we went to create some Halloween art.

I came up behind the Cottage, the property behind it was smooth and the ground was even, there were patches of dull brown grass and rows of plum trees lined the property.

I walked around the edge of the yard, and avoided those dry dead patches of grass  but I kept my eye on them at the same time.

Of course the first thing I did was to poke my head through the doorway and even though I had heard that rats had taken over the house years ago, I didn’t see any rats, I didn’t smell rat pee in fact, the one room cottage was dry as a bone.

There was a small wooden table in the center of the room, there was a single wooden chair next to it. The chair was turned sideways like someone had pushed themselves away from the table in a hurry and forgot to push it back into place.

And there, just inside of the door hanging on a peg on the wall was an olive green worker’s jacket.

On the jacket’s front pocket was a little nametag, worn with age.  The name tag read:

Erasmus Fields

I reached out and touched the gritty, mildewed jacked and snatched my hand back.

The jacket was warm, the cottage itself was cool and dry but the jacket was warm.

I did not turn my back on the dark entrance way with the clear by dim view of the chair that had been hastily shoved away from the table. I didn’t take any pictures.

I whistled for my dog and jogged back up to the house and I wondered how long it would take for the vines to grow back and cover the Cottage.

I also wondered if there were anymore bottle rockets around.







5 thoughts on “The Gardener’s Cottage

  1. Judy
    I’ve tried to research this, but it happened back in the early 70’s and the records aren’t easy to find. All I have to go on is what people from the street remember. My takeaway was it was a drug deal gone bad. On the other hand, the last man to br executed in Washington state lived in Terrace at about this time, so who knows?

    • The cottage shows up in a lot of my stories, in one form or another.

      I used to play in an orchard with this big giant boulder against the side of a hill.

      One day I went out there to play and there were firetrucks and police cars and a Medical Examiner’s car. It turns out somebody had been killed and stuffed in the open space between the rock and the hill.

      Apparently he had been there for at least a month and had we walked to the edge of the hill or the boulder ( which we were always climbing on ) we would have seen him. But it was dangerous to get close to those edges so we didn’t.

      After the removal we went back to playing there and we found his jacket stuffed under a bush. So the story isn’t exactly the same, but like I said, elements pop up now and then in other stories.

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