A Brief Excerpt From Alex Pugsley’s Aubrey Mckee
The house Katie was standing in front of was the Haunted Mansion. That’s what she called it. Everyone else knew it as the Pigeon Lady’s house. It was a dilapidated Second Empire place, once royal blue, now faded grey, and set back from the sidewalk by a circular driveway. The property was dark and noisome. Dozens of pigeons gathered here, roosted here, flapped and waddled here. Neighbourhood groups often moved to expel the flock, citing civic ordinances and health concerns, and these initiatives would work for a while, but a few birds were always present. This old house, with its slumping roofs, peeling shingles, with its rotting, sodden steps and rose bushes tangled wild through a ruined gazebo—and all of it splodgy with pigeon droppings—seemed to represent everything that was deranged and broken in the adult world and when passing by, even in the company of my older sisters, I crossed the street to avoid its creepy, decrepit energy.
But Katie, I saw, was standing on its very front steps, gazing curious at a pigeon on a sagging eaves-trough. This was an intricate creature who with scarlet eyes was blinking Katie into abstraction. Katie, even on a good day, was prone to little absence seizures. “Churrs” my sister Carolyn called them—she and I had variations on these chills-and-shivers too—and I can explain them by saying they were a complex of response that mixed a sense of sound-and-colour with an internal emotional moment which anticipated a time in the future when you’d be remembering this selfsame multi-part experience. I didn’t like them because they seemed a very imperfect form of premonition. I don’t know what Katie thought of them—she gave herself over to seventeen other ways of thinking anyway—which might have been why she saw fit to carelessly push open the front door and advance into the darkness of the Pigeon Lady’s house.