The house was at the end of the dirt road, fences abutted both sides of the narrow property, and brush hung heavily over the rotting wood from years and years of neglect. There was no driveway, just the dug out ruts caused by the constant back and forth from tires over a muddy spot on the weedy grass. Parking close to the fence, I sat in the car taking in my surroundings. It was a gloomy day, rain was in the forecast. Maybe I should have come on a sunny day when things might not look so depressing. There was no sign of life, no wind, no birds singing, it was completely quiet all around me. I was miles from nowhere. I was hopeful that this clue I had been given about my daughter’s whereabouts would bring me closer to finding her. However, this trailer home looked like it had been plopped down into the middle of a thicket of trees and abandoned for a long time. It was very old, it’s original color completely covered by rust, weather and graffiti. The steps that go up to the house were made out of concrete blocks, three on the bottom, and two on the top. Weeds grew through the holes of the bricks, a single dandelion shot up out of the top. I decided to keep my car door slightly open after I got out of the car. I left my purse behind but grabbed my phone. Stepping cautiously, I started up the brick blocks and they moved slightly under my weight. The outside aluminum door was open, hanging sloppily from one hinge against the trailer. The inside wooden door had no doorknob and was rotting from the outside in. I gently pushed the door open and the silence was broken with a loud screech of rusty hardware. Somewhere something made a quiet rustling sound. I pushed the door as far back as it would go which was just enough to allow me inside. Cigarette smoke mingled with mustiness and dust met my nostrils and I put my hand over my mouth. I pulled my jacket collar up and over my nose and tried breathing through my mouth. The open door provided some light while my eyes adjusted to the dark room. At my feet a pile of old mail was sprawled across the floor. There were stacks of old yellowed newspapers and car magazines. I picked up an envelope that was addressed to William Trapp. It was postmarked from over a year ago. I threw it back on the pile. William Trapp didn’t mean anything to me but I will remember to check it out once I leave here. I tried the light switch by the front door. Nothing. A second switch covered with old scotch tape didn’t work either. I walked slowly to the window across from the door, hesitated a second, then opened the thin tattered curtains revealing dust encrusted blinds, their cords woven into intricate cobwebs. Thick dust flew out into the room when I moved two of the slats to peek outside. Overgrown trees, bushes and weeds seemed to hug the windows and sides of the trailer like creeping ivy which explained the room’s darkness in the middle of the day. I turned around slowly and headed for the kitchen. The sink was filled with dirty dishes, roaches slithered to their hiding places as I got closer. Dead bugs swam in half drained cups of rusty water. What looked like it had been a burnt piece of toast lay on a paper plate with one perfect bite taken out of it, its edges curled up in a state of decay as tiny bugs moved over it. The mustard colored stove was covered with thick grease that showed signs of rodents who had left their footprints and droppings behind. A pair of beer bottle shaped salt and pepper shakers sat in the middle of the oily mess. On the refrigerator I noted some greasy, dusty magnets hanging on the front, “Be Happy,” “Smile,” and a Bible verse about “Being Still.” On top of the fridge were boxes of Wheaties and Puffed Rice lying on their sides, tops open, their contents all over the floor. My shoes crunched over the cereal as I debated whether to open the refrigerator. Leaning towards it I could smell rancid, rotten food and I could see a black gel oozing out the bottom of the door and decided against it.
Since it appeared no one had been here in a very long time, I decided to check the rest of the trailer. I took my cell phone out of my pocket to see if I had any cell service in case I needed to use it. Clenching my fists and taking a deep breath of the stank air, I headed down the hall on the slanting linoleum floor. I came to the first closed door, grabbed the handle and opened it quickly. The noise disturbed some mice that scrambled for cover. My eyes tried to adjust to the small darkened bathroom which smelled wet with mold. The floor was covered with waist high piles of what could be towels or clothes, it was too dark to tell. I closed the door shut and made my way down the rest of the hallway and came to a bedroom at the back of the trailer. Enough light made its way through the thin curtains to see that the room was sparsely furnished. A small twin bed was pushed into the farthest corner of the room, its old mattress lumpy and stained. The closet doors were open, empty blue plastic hangers scattered on the floor. The long shelf above the rod was empty. One black sock lay in the corner covered in a blanket of dust. Could my daughter, Sandra, have been here? Had she slept here? Certainly it would have been against her will if she did.
I went back to the sagging couch, and looked around for anything that might give me a clue she had been here. A single coffee table pocketed with burn marks held an overflowing ashtray with butts cascading over the top; some had lipstick residue, others did not. Sandra never wore lipstick I noted. Scanning the room one last time, I headed for the door. I left the front door like I found it, closing it as best I could. Standing on the concrete blocks, I looked out onto the property. My car added the only color among the weeds and overgrown brush. It was quiet, very quiet. Making my way to my car, I was disappointed this trip had been so fruitless. I still had no clue of what might have happened to my daughter, Sandra, who has now been missing for 3 months. The more I search for her, the less hope I have of finding her. This had been another dead end. There was no indication Sandra has ever been here. I had been misled. I turned my car around and slowly headed back towards town. Adjusting the mirror before I left the dirt road, my eye caught a slight movement near the trailer. I slowed the car, adjusted the mirror and looked again but there was nothing. A shiver ran up my spine but I did not go back.