I remember the shoddy little house with chipping white paint, its rear half hiding a dingy rainbow of embedded mud specks, a lighter ambiguously brown elemental congress, and grass stains from an unwieldy lawn which must have attempted a takeover some time before. Somewhere close by there was a cemetery, or at least a field with lots of concrete that my brother and cousin could convince five-year-old-me was a cemetery.
Between the two eerily equipped locales was a hiccup of forest; to my adult eyes it would most likely be a cluster of trees, which I could perhaps penetrate from both sides with my outstretched arms while standing at its center. The shadowy secret beneath the ever-brown canopy was a godforsaken, one-man boat, half digested by the soggy black earth.
Though he must have only visited us for a few days, I remember my cousin joining my brother and me for a lifetime of adventures in that dark realm. We snapped "clubs" from trees for safety when exploring the abandoned pirate ship and we prepared for battle with the vampires who had trapped my father in his own trunk, dragging him into the undead.
Well, we didn't see him go back in; what's your explanation? And, in case you're ever in the same predicament, here's how we made it out alive: we recited Grace--Bless us, oh Lord--over the stagnant pool in the hull of the ship, thus producing enough Holy Water for an army of darkness.
I also remember the gorgeous, big-ass a-frame with the lawn-care crew, pool guy, and fully stocked bar; respectively, where I got my cigarettes, where I bought my weed, and how at thirteen-years-old I made much older friends. By the time we fled that a-frame for a split-level in a bigger city, I could aspire for nothing greater than to break out and conquer my own shoddy wonderland, baptizing myself in its waters and shedding the iniquities of far too much beauty.