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


The house stood out, red and obvious amongst the march of ranch-style houses that marked the subdivision. Vex could see its frosted white roof even before she left Main St. and turned into the winding streets within. It didn’t take long to navigate the neighborhood and soon she was pulling over in front of the house.

“In the market?” the realtor asked as he stepped out of the taxi.

Up close, it looked even more out of place. It was two stories tall, not an uncommon height for a peppering of the other houses, but they lacked the historical sensibilities and quiet nobility of the haunted house. It towered over its neighbors with its head up high.

A white temple-like entrance, with an elaborate pediment supported by carved columns, poked out between green bushes and vine plants. The vines climbed the symmetrical, red brick façade and limned the white trimmed windows with falling blue flowers. A tall, brick chimney grew from the frosted gable roof, casting an ever lengthening shadow. To Vex, the house seemed tired; its double-hung, shuddered windows drooped in the deepening shadows.

Picturesque struck her as an understated description for the solemn and beautiful house.

“Sorry,” she said. “I can only barely afford my apartment on a hack’s salary.”

“I’ll give you a tour anyway,” he said. “Oh, by the way, my name is Blake Macintyre. Please, call me Blake.”

“Nice to meet you, Blake,” she said. “Vex.”

She walked along the front and peered in one of the windows while Blake rattled with the keys at the front door. Inside, the rooms were bare, but no dust had settled on the wood floors. Every wall, as far as she could see, had artwork painted on it. From floor to ceiling, murals in oil paints, small squares of sketches done in pencil and charcoal; complicated and refined carvings covered every wooden surface from the doorframes to the wooden supports set into the walls.

“Strange, the key doesn’t work.”

Further rattling followed as he tried again.

“This place has been on our books for almost twenty years and it’s never been sold,” he went on. “The records, I think, mentioned that it has been traded between several different real estate companies, sometimes people move in, but they don’t stay long.”

“The house doesn’t want to let us in,” Vex said.

Blake kicked the door. The arch shook. “Don’t be ridiculous. I know that I said this place was haunted, but I don’t actually believe that. Did you know that we have to tell people who are buying these places that they’re haunted? Like they have termites or bad wiring—haunted.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “I don’t need a tour…”

“Yeah, fine.” Blake didn’t sound fine about it. “If you like, I’ll give you my card and a brochure for the place. They’re in by briefcase.”

Vex shaded her eyes from the sunlight and looked at the somber face of the house again.

“Say, who owned this place before your company did?”

Blake shrugged. “Hell if I know.” He sighed as he unhooked the sold plaque from where it hung beneath the realtor’s sign.

“How would I go about finding that out?”

“The County Records Office, I think. You could probably ask around at the Phoenix Public Library; they have access to a lot of government things, probably including deed records.”

“Thanks,” Vex said. “I think I’ll do that.”

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