I’ve been reading a lot, lately, about the Winchester Mystery house.
According to legend, the widow and heir to the Winchester fortune, Sarah Winchester, believed that she shared her home with the spirit of everyone ever killed by a Winchester rifle, and was compelled by this belief to continually add to her home. Rooms, wings, fireplaces, stairways, basements, elevators, beyond meaningful utility, beyond sanity, without rhyme, reason or any thought as to what purpose the finished building might serve her.
Because she did not intend that the building ever be finished, and so she had no conception of “finished” as far as the building went. Rather she worked to continually confound the spirits of the dead, hoping that they would become more and more lost as her home became more and more labyrinthine, hoping that they would never find their way through the maze she was continually constructing, to where she lived, like the Minotaur of old, at that maze’s centre.
In essence, she believed that if construction ever stopped, even for a moment, the ghosts would get her.
She was quite mad, obviously.
And yet, as I read, I couldn’t help but think about how much damn roadwork goes on here in Calgary.
Because it does at times seem as though the city’s constantly working on some major construction project or other and, while Mayor Nenshi doesn’t seem mad, the maddest among us never do.
Or, if he’s sane, perhaps he knows something the rest of us don’t, with regard to the occult.
I can’t off the top of my head think of anything that might have drawn the spirits of the dead to our town, but I suspect that were they here, among us, the roadwork outside my work right now would certainly confound them.
So perhaps there’s more rhyme and reason to the endless construction than I give my hometown credit for…
Although, if so, this would, in light of the fact that I’m not directly involved in planning or executing the construction myself, lead to a rather uncomfortable question.
Am I living in the house? Or am I simply one of its ghosts?