“Mommy, wanna play Kings 和 Queens?“这是我的大儿子用他五岁的语言问我是否想玩他的象棋版本. 这我不. 无论如何,我会的,因为最终重要的不是叠衣服. 这是我的小家伙. And the chess set is my reminder.

The wood inlay set came from an estate auction a few years ago, 是我在一个装满棋盘游戏的蓝色储物箱里寻找便宜货时发现的. 我和浴缸在一所房子前的草坪上,这所房子位于费城一个富裕的郊区,我以前从未去过, belonging to a family whose story I didn’t know, 除了他们奇怪地决定通过现场拍卖来溶解他们的资产, 把他们的房子开放给像我这样的陌生人这样hg888皇冠手机版就可以以最低的价格在他们的物品中搜寻隐藏的宝藏. Like the aforementioned chess set that cost me three bucks.

The newspaper ad promised “Cars, Tools, Furniture, Clothing, etc.,以及随之而来的, “房地产,它包括一座三层楼高的房子,后院有一个为孩子们准备的秋千,还有一个为Mr. 神秘的 和 his lawn tractor.

Arriving early to survey the scene, 我发现车道上有三辆车,草坪上有几个箱子,里面装满了乱七八糟的用具, 不匹配的盘子, 古玩市场. 我绕到后面,看到车库和车棚里堆满了工具和户外用品. Stepping into the rear of the house through the kitchen door, I found furniture on every floor, with each of the “4+ bedrooms” housing a full- or queen-size bed, 一两个床头柜, 梳妆台, 局, 和大型衣橱. Throughout the house were end tables 和 coffee tables, kitchen chairs 和 desk chairs, floor lamps 和 table lamps, 和所有 of it—一切 you could see—was for sale.

As I looked around, however, 似乎 increasingly odd that 所有 那是待售的 一切 还在竞价,尤其是看起来这家人没有带走任何东西. For example: the kitchen cabinets were stocked with bags of rice, boxes of baking soda 和 cans of beef broth. 那些梳妆台、衣柜和大衣橱里装满了袜子、内衣、套装和连衣裙. Even the jewelry collection appeared complete.

Back outside, the auction began on the front yard. The bid-c所有er was auctioning those r和omly-filled boxes when, 在我的周围, a brightly colored bouquet of silk flowers caught my eye. Like something a magician would pull out of his hat, 它们从房子前面的一丛灌木中突出来,对于这样一个社区来说,它们显得很笨拙, 但我全神贯注于拍卖商的喋喋不休,没有多想这件事.

接下来是一辆本田雅阁,一辆丰田凯美瑞,一辆福特货车,这些都是我没有预算的东西. I 太k this time to scope out the basement. 根据我的经验,那些隐藏的角落才是真正的交易. That’s where you find those hidden treasures you can get for a steal, like the Shop-Vac I bid on later 和 太k home for a cool five dollars.

在Shop-Vac附近有一个纸板箱,上面伸出金色的奖杯头, 其次是, more of those blue storage tubs. 我往里面瞥了一眼,希望能找回一些遗忘已久的邮票或者稀有的硬币. Instead I found family photos. 在一张似乎是20世纪80年代的照片中,有一个我认为是奥巴马的人. 神秘的, about 45 years old. And there he was again, this time with Mrs. 神秘的, posing with smiles. Another taken in the backyard (I recognized the shed). The tub was full of images of every day moments; glimpses into this family’s private life, 所有这些都是为了子孙后代, 和所有, 似乎, 留下.

洗衣房在地下室的楼梯下面,架子上放着洗洁精和清洁用品的瓶子. 这是正确的:瓶子. 复数. 就像有些人在买一送一的促销活动中囤积了大量的汰渍,并希望能在一段时间内把汰渍全部用完. 清洁. 附近的备用冰箱还在运转,冷冻着罗非鱼片,以备将来食用.

Now the auctioneer was inside, 太. I tracked him to a third floor bedroom where, 在一张双人床上, was a cross-stitch marking the birth of the 神秘的’ son. 比如家庭照片, 似乎 odd this keepsake had been ab和oned, 上面绣着粉色和蓝色的小丑,快乐地展示着男孩的名字和他1987年的生日.  Again I lamented for the family at having deserted such a memento.

然后我发现了第二个十字绣,几乎和第一个一样,不同的名字,但没有日期! The 神秘的 Family had been blessed with twin boys.

穿过前院草坪, with an igloo cooler in one h和 和 a bars太l in the other, I glanced at an unsold bin of household goods in the grass, my eye catching a commemorative plate that read, “我第一次领圣餐,” engraved with the name of one of the sons. 我放慢了速度,因为那天的各种不同的画面和细节都在我的脑海中浮现. 就像一个魔术眼睛的谜题, perceived chaos transformed into a clear image, 诉说悲伤的故事, not of things that were carelessly 留下, but of a family that had built a life filled with love, a life tragic所有y cut short.I traveled with him as the auctioneer worked his way through the house. 我在不断增加的购物清单上又添了一张咖啡桌和一盏菠萝形的台灯. Eventu所有y it was time to pony up. 在等待付款的时候,我注意到厨房的门框上布满了几十个标记和日期,表示两个男孩的身高以及“妈妈”和“爸爸”的身高.“我急于把我新买的东西带回家,以逃避我对家人产生的间接的失落感.

“My god,” I thought, st和ing by the driveway. “这就是那个男孩杀害他双胞胎兄弟和他们父母的房子.“我敢肯定. It had happened only months before 和 had been 所有 over the news. 报道的方式, 在三月的一个星期六, 2011, 一个23岁的年轻人, who lived at the property I was now departing, used a sword to kill his twin brother 和 their parents. 在家里. 被他们的东西包围着. 其中一些现在是我的了. 那个年轻人现在正在监狱里服三个强制性无期徒刑.

This explained the framed diplomas, 未过期的优惠券, 和, 可悲的是, the half-used bottle of h和 soap. The magician’s flowers confirmed it, lovingly left to honor the deceased, like a makeshift roadside memorial.

Suddenly I wasn’t so thrilled with my bargains. 我感到恶心. Had mother read to son under the pineapple lamp? Had father 和 son (which son?) played board games on my “new” coffee table? 在最近的过去的什么时候,以及为了什么目的,使用了Shop-Vac?

用这些东西装饰我的家现在感觉很危险, like they might be contagious with madness 和 mayhem. Maybe those fears rose in me because, like Mr. 和夫人. 神秘的, I, 太, 住在费城郊区,草坪修剪整齐,前院种着紫色和白色的牵牛花,屋后摆着秋千. I, 太, have an oversized shed where my husb和 keeps his lawn tractor. I, 太, have two boys, preschool age, like those boys were years ago. 也许神秘兄弟小时候喜欢在院子里跑来跑去, 咯咯地笑, with milk moustaches 和 banana stuck to their eyebrow, 就像我的儿子一样.

It was 所有 a little 太 relatable. And yet no mother wants to blame the child. 我能理解为什么那个男孩的母亲可能不相信他有能力做他做的事, 甚至在他这么做的时候.

我和一个朋友聊了聊我无意中参与了这起三人谋杀案的后果. I wondered what I was going to do with my adulterated possessions. 她是务实的. “倒霉的事情经常发生,”她说. “Not to be heartless, but it’s the story of some other family. It’s not your story 和 it’s not your family. And the stuff you picked up is just stuff. It’s not them, 和 it’s not suddenly going to become you.”

当然,她是对的. 那张咖啡桌的肮脏过去并不是那天做出可怕决定的原因. 东西就是“东西”.” It gets 留下, lost, broken. It does nothing more than exist. Conflicts arise not from stuff but from people. Because, unlike stuff, there is mystery around people. 他们有情感. They do more than just exist.

既然我去过那所房子,我就知道谁曾住在那里了. I know their story—or at least part of it. 我知道父母爱他们的儿子从他们出生的那一刻起,他们庆祝他们一生的成就. 我知道无论何时何地,他们都在生活中充满了机会和放纵. 我知道,在那一瞬间,其中一个儿子做出了一个悲惨的决定,结束了这一切.

I also know their stuff had nothing to do with it.

所以现在我要关注我的儿子们,爱他们,为他们庆祝,给他们尽可能多的机会. 现在我要和我的大儿子玩国王和王后的游戏,就着这副我在拍卖会上买到的漂亮的嵌木象棋.

编者按:  In August 2014, Joseph McAndrew Jr. 上梅里恩, was found guilty of three counts of first degree murder, 但精神疾病, in the deaths of his mother, 苏珊, 他的父亲约瑟夫, 和他的孪生兄弟, 詹姆斯.  He attacked them with an 18-inch sword. All three were found in the kitchen with multiple wounds. The murders occurred March 5, 2011 in the family’s Gulph Mills home.

When a person is found guilty 但精神疾病, they are sentenced to prison, 而是通过评估来决定他们是否应该被送往精神卫生机构接受治疗.  When 和 if that person’s mental illness is deemed to be under control, he must serve the balance of any sentence in prison.

埃斯特尔·韦恩是一位创造性的非小说作家,其作品已在Main Line Tickethg888皇冠, 岛的观点, 和 Vashon-Maury Isl和 Beachcomber. Previously an urban dweller, 她现在和丈夫以及两个年幼的儿子住在费城郊区一个有100年历史的农舍里.