A tribute to artists and the homesick everywhere. Projects like Vexations wouldn't be anything without artists.


Home, Sweet Home
© 2007 Kyt Dotson

The man’s cell phone rang again. This had to be the third time in the last ten minutes that phone chirped to life. Vex decided that she still didn’t like the ring tone.

The guy would have fit in well with the usual fares she picked up out in Scottsdale. He was clean shaven, tucked pertly into a button-down shirt, and wore a bola tie sporting a garish turquoise and silver pendant. A white cowboy hat with exaggerated curves sat on his head, slightly off-center, and finely curled hairs poked out from beneath the rim—here and there, a grey hair peeked between the brown. He completed his outfit with blue jeans and shit-kicker boots with silver plated toes.

Vex figured this guy was either a pimp with a fetish for western fashion or he was in real estate. His pants lacked a giant belt buckle, so she guessed the latter was probably closer to the truth.

The conversation seemed to start out fine, it sounded like a continuation of the three previous calls from the tone of his voice. Except that after a few long pauses—probably waiting for someone to come to the phone—his strained, but jovial attitude took a frustrated nose-dive.

“Wait-wait-wait, say that again. They backed out?” he said. His expression tightened even further. Vex wondered if his face was on the verge of falling off. “No. No… I understand.

“I told them and they seemed okay with—“

The cab rolled to a stop at a red light and he tapped on the separator grating as to get her attention. She flicked her eyes to glance into the rear-view window; his crystal blue eyes looked intently back and he held up a finger: Just a moment.

“Har—Harry. No, listen. I’ll handle this,” he said into the phone, leaning heavily on the grating now. He gestured for her to pull over.

The light changed. Vex crossed the street and turned into a Circle K.

“Fine.” He closed the phone and hung his head in defeat.

She put the cab in neutral. “Rough day at work?”

“Oh, you don’t know the half of it… I hate that place. I swear, they gave it to me just to spite me.”

“What place?”

The man lifted his head and leaned back into his seat. “Do you believe in ghost stories?”

“More than you know,” she said and put her hands in her lap. You’ve come to the right cab, my good sir. “Lay it on me.”

“Well, there is this supposed haunted property.” He spoke slowly at first, as if testing the water. When Vex didn’t react, the rest of the story came out in a gush. “It’s this colonial, down in Mesa, really picturesque—but nobody will live there. It’s been almost two years and we haven’t been able to unload the place. Apparently, it’s been passed around like a hot potato for years now. I don’t know why they don’t just knock it down and build a park there. Got to make money somehow, I guess.

“Anyway, I'm new with the firm, and from the looks of this history on this place nobody can sell it. So, of course, they give it to me. I swear, if I hear another—

“I am going to punch Baker in the teeth.”

“Baker?” Vex asked.

“My boss,” the man explained. “Hey, mind a change of plans?”

“It’s your dime. Where to?”

“Same haunted house,” he said. “I have to take down the sold sign.”

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