Anyone who lived in Cupertino in the early sixties knows about Stella's. Some older folks might even remember Stella, the madam of Cupertino. You turn a sharp right turn on this back road headed for Stevens Creek dam and on the right corner is a pink, old abandoned two story building in serious disrepair. I returned many years later to find the corner covered in modern condos, one right after the other. They always make me think of the song, "Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky."
Finally on my own with a brand new driver's license, I stop to take a long desired peek. We had passed the abandoned building often as children, on our way to the creek, stables or just walking about on a lazy summer day. Like the classic scary movie, I was always too frightened to leave the sidewalk to approach the building, and grateful a challenge to do so was never issued. All of us must have felt the same, forbidding sensation, and resumed our walks quickly.
I took a big breath, made my way to the side of the building, carefully stepping over precariously slabs of broken cement, pieces of plywood and debris in the yard to stand at one of the front side windows. I am still too scared to even contemplate going inside, but I can see the first floor is basically one very large room with kitchen rooms at the left end. Debris and garbage cover the floors. Walls once a dark teal blue are now faded wall paper fragments, scarcely detectable. Both long side walls covered with uniform, tall, grand, paned windows. The right end wall contains the front door and a fireplace, once detailed and elegant. Narrow and dark stairs are at the left kitchen end, beckoning, but my feet were stuck like concrete. I seemed to be able to 'see' upstairs with its long hallway and many small dark mysterious rooms filled with secrets and sorrows.
A woman dressed in late victorian style laughs from upstairs, a man standing beside her in a twenties style black tuxedo, one arm around her waist says something under his breath next to her ear to which she laughs again and I am gone.
Now? Now I wish I had stayed and gone upstairs.