“This is really short short fiction”, I remarked to myself as I read the stories below by artist, poet, author and educator, Catherine Coan. I was immediately inspired to compose short introductions à la Rod Serling. “Imagine if you will…”
The first of the three featured stories speaks to the collapse of the real estate market, and the great bargains to be had for buyers with cash in hand. As readers will discover, however, getting that “dream house” may be more complicated than that.
Hummingbird Nest Ranch
Sotheby’s: Was $75,000,000, Just Reduced to $5,995,000. Recession Special!
HUMMINGBIRD NEST RANCH. The finest world-class equestrian estate on approximately 123 acres, built in 2004, just 40 minutes from Beverly Hills! Beautiful Mission Revival-style mansion (approximately 17,000 square feet, designed by Richard Robertson). Approximately four of the 123 acres boast a Native American burial site!
The three-level main house has thick stucco walls, copper gutters, a courtyard succulent garden with an aggressive fifteen-foot carnivorous plant, and a Spanish-style roof.
There are five bedrooms plus attached guest quarters, an office, a cabana, two heated pools, a twelve-person Jacuzzi, and a gazebo. Luxury details include paver tile floors, decorative tile work around the windows, wood-beamed ceilings, and a state-of-the-art French kitchen in red lacquer and stainless!
Surrounding the main house are three guest houses, ten staff houses, and substantial hunter-jumper equestrian facilities including an international grand prix arena (600×300 feet); rubber-and-sand mixed ring (300×250 feet); derby grass field (650×250 feet); large main barn (approximately 20,000 square feet) with 37 stalls (14×14 feet), six grooming stalls, two wash stalls, vet office, and farrier’s workshop and quarters! In one of the stalls lives a man with a human body and horse head (Palomino) named Carl who does not wear clothes and will not leave. But, again, the stainless and red lacquer kitchen. Also, derby grass field!
This is a green property with three private water wells, solar panels in several buildings, water treatment and distribution system, a roving sinkhole that may or may not have swallowed a film crew, and two fuel storage tanks (gas and diesel, 500 gallons each). The estate is gated, uses public utilities and solar energy, and prominently features a helipad.
If one was once doing much better before the deep recession, perhaps this tale of the ephemeral nature of comfort and relationship will strike a chord. If not, at least enjoy this little gathering.
Sit by the tiny fire, yes, the flame there about the size of the flame on a lit match, and I will tell you a story. I have made coffee for you over the fire in a little iron skillet from the dollhouse. The one that burned down. Yes, this is what is left of the house: the ash, this tiny skillet, and this fire. A family lived in the dollhouse, a family of mice. They called themselves a family, but really they chose each other. You already have coffee? Well, here, I’ll add the coffee I made to the coffee in your travel mug. They had hard and separate lives for a long time, and just before the fire, they found each other and the house and there was a brief period of peace and television. How’s the coffee? I’ll bet you can’t tell the coffee I put in there from the original coffee you had.
Lastly, there is the story of a baby who was an enigma since birth. Readers may puzzle over its life and times. Is this story also its epitaph? Or is it with us still?
It did not cry, even when it was born, even when it was kicked by its siblings. Its pale green-piped translucence was lovely in sunlight. No one named it. No one could tell if its heart could break.
Catherine Coan’s first book, Aviation (poetry), was published by Blue Begonia Press in 2000. Her design work can be seen at Stay, the downtown Los Angeles hotel she created with business partner Amy Price. Her Canary Suicides (assemblages in vintage bird cages featuring little feathered demises) are currently on display at Arty, the downtown L.A. gallery she co-owns with Price (also at www.canarysuicides.com <http://www.canarysuicides.com/> ). She has taught university literature and creative writing since 1995.