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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera


The room is on the third floor of the building with a bank of windows facing north. I am not sure what the building is really intended for, but I think there's a salon on the first floor and a lawyer's office of some sorts. It is possible that the upper floors are apartments. That seems to be all the repurposing rage around here, turning random offices into apartments. Then the landlords charge an exorbitant amount for rent. This particular area has been seeing some changes. A juice bar went in up the street, along with a new micro brewery. One morning on my way to work, I passed this building as two men in flannel shirts walked around the corner to get into their car. They both carried a ceramic mug. They both had their pants rolled at the ankles and their bare feet clad in loafers. They both sported messy buns on top of their heads. Neither wore a coat even though the temperatures were in the low thirties. 

The neighborhood is changing. 

Its in the evenings when I am headed home where I have a chance to study the room on the third floor.  The entire length of the windowsill across the third floor is lined with an accoutrement of items. From my vantage point waiting at the stop light, I can see an elephant tusk and a large skull of an animal, possibly the elephant that gave up it's tusk. There's a stuffed and mounted mountain lion standing on a length of driftwood. The rest of the windowsill is cluttered with papers and bits of things I can't quite make out from the street. The first time I noticed the room, I was on my way home from an afterwork happy hour and since we were in the shorter days of winter, the sun had already set. The building was dark all except for that third floor room. I looked up and started noticing the bones and the lion, forgetting that I was sitting at a red light. I said out loud to no one "what the Hell is happening in that room?" Then I heard the beep of a car horn behind me. The light had turned green. It was time to move on.

Now, in the evenings, I look up at that floor and try to notice clues that would give any hints to what really goes on there. Here's what I've come up with so far. The third floor is the home and offices of Colonel Martin Vanhousen. He is an older, distinguished gentleman with an unplaceable accent. Some days he sounds as if he might hail from Wurzburg, while the next day it may sound as if he is a Yorkshire native. On Saturdays and Sundays, Col. Vanhousen, or Marty if you are close acquaintances, has the thickest Scottish brogue that you can not understand a word he says. He is neither tall, nor short; skinny or fat. Col. Vanhousen is completely bald on the top of his head with a ring of white fluffy hair circling his head. He does not have a beard, but does sport the most pork-like side chops you have ever seen. 

Col. Vanhousen is a world explorer. This explains why his home and office are littered with bones and taxidermied animals. There are stacks upon stacks of field notes, old photographs and sketches of rare plants and in the center of it all sits a large mahogany desk. In those drawers you will find uncatalogued arrowheads, a pipe collection, a tobacco collection and a very expensive bottle of scotch. He keeps the cheap stuff for guests on an ancient liquor cart along with some gin and a bottle of vermouth that he doesn't remember ever buying. One desk drawer contains letters and a locket containing a picture of his one and only true love, Elsbeth. She died from influenza while he was on expedition to Antarctica. The Colonel never married, but does have a string of widows who take turns stopping by on evenings carrying a pyrex dish filled with some casserole of sorts. He has spent the last twenty five years in this office, attempting to compile all of his notes into a memoir. That is something we have in common, though I also have a small collection of arrowheads in my own desk drawer.

Of course all of this is more fantasy than fact. The room does exist. As does the mountain lion and large skull. The rest of it all is still just conjecture.