Bone Stuff

Ben visits a real life Alladin's cave of horrors

The dark had set in perhaps an hour or so ago and as the temperature had dropped it brought with it a shrouding mist that made our welcome that ever more eerie. Most strange though was the complete absence of life. No people, no lights, nothing... just a small bungalow set in the woods, a million miles from anywhere. To say the very least, it was not shaping up to be a typical hostelling experience...

No people, no lights, nothing
...Whist figuring what to do from the car, I came to notice a small note pinned to the door of the house and with the lights on full beam I made my way up the path to see what it read.

With hand writing that would not look out of place in a psychopath's scrapbook, it began to feel like we were in the opening scene of a horror movie and with twenty minutes before it turned eight we sat patiently and fuelled one another's fears.

Then fifteen minutes later, emerging from the mist were the headlights of another vehicle which driving slower than molasses built the suspense to near breaking point.

With little to no light to speak of and dazed from the headlamps of his arriving car it was hard at first to see Jim clearly and instead, we were limited to his weak silhouette. Maybe in his mid-40s, Jim had a slight hunch and even in this low light he looked like a man defeated. Whether it be the elements or the loneliness, I really couldn't say - all I truly knew was I was happy to be living this moment in the company of both Chris and Jo.

Chris, for whom I "studied" with at University had just arrived in to Seattle where with his girlfriend Jo was here to visit relatives. He had messaged me back in July about his intentions to come out to Washington and have since then been in contact about what to do. Given though that Chris and Jo were in town for just a week we had set aside this couple of days to hang out and had made plans before their arrival to head out towards the Olympic peninsula and National Park.

So after meeting in McDonald's we took the ferry across to Bainbridge Island from where we spent the majority of the day making our way out to the town of Forks, an odd little place which itself seemed like it belonged in a film set.

Despite its lack of charm and sense of horror, Forks in comparison to Jim's home felt like a haven, for welcoming us inside, Jim took us in to a home that was as backwards and surreal as he was.

Upon the walls was evidence of a military background, in front of the fire was an axe and in the kitchen was a recipe for "heart soup" where the number one ingredient was, yep, you guessed it - bone stuff.

Adding a different dimension to this craziness though were the walls of the living room, for they were strewn with cards, notes and other postings from various visitors of years gone by. Accompanied by the scrap books with anecdotes and wistful notes, this painful sense of horror was gradually replaced with a dark and lonely sadness.
Upon the walls was evidence of a military background, in front of the fire was an axe and in the kitchen was a recipe for "heart soup" where the number one ingredient was, yep, you guessed it - bone stuff
This man was not defeated... he was it seemed just lonely. As the evening wore on I pictured him out here on cold winter nights taking great solace from the pictures upon this wall and felt in many ways I was perhaps looking at the happiest times in this man's life.

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Worst of all though was knowing that having his home as a hostel was not so much about making money, it was about the company it entailed and sat after dinner in his lounge I felt we had failed to deliver. I realise most obviously that I had not signed up to deliver anything that night and was not some travelling escort, but somehow still, I found myself feeling guilty.

And so in the days since I have come to question if my actions that night were as right as perhaps I think they should be and whilst there is no clear outcome in my mind I feel an Aladdin's cave of horrors or not - perhaps I should have made more of an effort with this man who clearly and so desperately was seeking to be sought.