I’ve always hated Jonesborough, anyway. It’s so quaint and folksy. That was why we were surprised to find a house with modern architecture that was built in 1972 for sale on the outskirts of town in 2006. It had a 12 foot by 12 foot cut out in the center of living room that was only accessible through a set of sliding glass doors. It was kind of like a big, square doughnut. A big, square doughnut with a flat roof, and a heap of repairs to be done. I said to our realtor, “Great, now all we need to do is find another house like this that doesn’t need so much work.” Since this was the only one like it, we decided to buy it. This was by far not the wisest decision we ever made.
I should have known that our venture was doomed when the moving truck hit the house on the day we moved in. Those bastards scratched my coffee table, too. Don’t ever hire Roy’s Moving Service. The economic downturn coupled with Rad losing his job spelled financial disaster soon after we acquired the house. Good thing they were building a Wal-Wart down street. Rad got a job as the manager of the garden center. Repairs that we used to be able to manage became insurmountable. There was the day we came home to find that one of our sliding glass doors decided to spontaneously combust, and the time when thousands of termites swarmed the hallway. Large chunks of soffit came crashing down in the yard. Birds set up shop in the eaves of the house. The basement flooded on a regular basis, and the septic tank backed up into basement as well. At any given time, we could have either rain water or waste water lurking downstairs. This was no American Dream. It was a nightmare of epic proportion.
Option A was to keep working jobs that sucked the life out of us at Wal-Mart and Ramey Ford and barely make the house payments. Option B was to throw caution to the wind, return to school, and give up the house. We decided to go with option B. No hard feelings, Mr. Bankerman. It was just a business decision. It seems that I’ve heard the old “business decision” excuse when someone was really putting the screws to me. I think it applies here as well. After repeated attempts to work something out with Select Portfolio Servicing, the mortgage company who purchased out loan, we gave up. We just wanted them to take the house back. Rad’s 85-year-old grandmother was telling us to just mail them the keys in an envelope. We tried to sell it, do a short sale, a deed in lieu of foreclosure, anything we could to avoid a straight-up foreclosure. No dice. These guys didn’t want to work anything out with anybody. Don’t ever do business with Select Portfolio Servicing.
The second part of plan B was to hire a lawyer after we tried to deal with the bank to no avail. The lawyer advised us to cut off all communication. It worked. They were finally going to foreclose on the house. December 6, 2011 was the deadline to gather the rest of the items we had stored there, and surrender the property. We had to go back and get the pole lamp, records, some books, and to steal the mirrors out of the master bathroom. They are really nice mirrors.
The other reason I wanted to go back was to photograph the house. At the very least, I wanted to make a photography project about the house at 103 Franklin Heights Road. We had a sneaking suspicion that the next owners were going to tear the place down. It’s a mess of a house on a really nice piece of land. The foreclosure was on a Tuesday, so we planned to go out there the Saturday before the auction.
All of a sudden our neighbor, Joe, called us and said he saw someone in the house. It looked like they were teenagers. I expected to find spray-painted walls and broken windows. Hey, it might make for good photos. What I didn’t expect was to find three kids still in our house when we pulled in the driveway. As I approached the house, I saw a figure dash in front of the kitchen window. Rad and I promptly covered all the escape routes and called the sheriff who came screaming down the street moments later with his blue lights blazing. There was no damage to the house like I expected, but they did manage to ransack the place. It appeared that each one of them had started a pile of stuff they were going to keep. One of them were going to take a few of our records including the soundtrack to Slaughter’s Big Rip-off. This was the final insult. Rad and I had been reduced to a bunch of neighborhood kids rummaging through the remanants of our failed real estate acquisition.
The dad to two of the kids showed up, profusely apologized and asked the sheriff if he would slap some cuffs on them. Right before they were placed in cuffs and led to waiting Washington County Sheriff’s cars, one of the cops asked the kids how it felt to commit a felony. He also told the kids that he could link them to any burglaries in the area. We decided not to press charges. We just wanted to gather our stuff, photograph the place and get the hell out of there. We left a note in the kitchen drawer the read, “We hope you have better luck with this place that we did. Word to the wise, she’s a real handful. – Rad and Amanda”
We went next door to thank Joe for keeping an eye on the place and mowing our lawn all summer, when I turned around and the sky was insane-looking. As a bonus, one of the cruisers was still in the driveway waiting on the mother of one of the girls to pick her up. I ran inside and snatched my tripod and camera. The following pictures are the result of a photo shoot of a house that quite possibly will be torn down in the near future. Thanks for all the good times, you crumbling wreck. You are someone else’s problem, now.