The old gray house stood alone and empty. Silent, without a trace of the screaming fights we heard coming from within in the past. The whole neighborhood was there, on the street, sidewalk and alley. I stood with my circle of friends at the front of the crowd. Sometimes it was good to be six years old.

Then, they began to arrive. Workmen in dusty, dirty clothes. A serious look of determination on their faces. They began their work. Sawing, hammering and prying. The work continued throughout the day and by evening it was done. They had cut the house in half, right down the middle.

Two days later more workman came, this time with trucks and jacks. We watched our eyes wide and mouths gaping as they slowly lifted the half house on a flatbed truck and hauled it away. The owner, whose name I have long since forgotten, stood alone, staring at what remained of his house — now completely open to the world. Curtains swaying in the breeze and water dripping from the cut pipes. Who would have thought that when his perpetually angry wife was awarded half the house in the divorce decree that she would take it so literally!

(PS: This is a true story of my crazy neighborhood on Pioneer Street in Chicago. The photo is not the actual house)

Vietnam vet, retired realtor, published author.

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