A vintage clapboard sign proclaimed the message outside the fence:
“Open House. All are welcome. Come and see the treasures of a kingdom.”
I looked up at the crumbling plaster and cracked windows of an aged and infirmed structure. You’ve got to be kiddding me! That place should be torn down! But the sign seemed to tell of mysteries the house fell short of declaring. I glanced at the narrow gate no bigger than the width of a grown man’s body.
How is one supposed to fit through this? I wondered and pushed against the frame. The creak in the hinge grated on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. Slowly I could press through and the gate slammed shut behind me. Trees of all sorts greeted me with spindly branches while the ripening fruit scented the backyard. An old pottery wheel covered with hardened pieces of clay stood covered by a small shelter. Then an old man, with piercing blue eyes and a crown of the whitest hair I’d ever seen walked over to me.
“Can I help you?” he asked with a friendly voice.
I pointed helplessly through the gate, “Yes, the sign said…”
“Oh, sure,” he interrupted with a smile. “Of course, right this way.”
We walked over to to the door of a long forgotten root cellar. “Just help me open these doors up if you will.” I bent down and struggled against the rust and dirt caked on the metal hinges.
“ I thought that this was supposed to be an open house,” I muttered.
“Oh, my house is always open.” He grinned as if he knew a secret. “But not many find their way through. I reckon it’s been about six years since the last time I got to show off.”
When the dust had settled we descended into the cellar. Flourescent lights flickered on as the man flipped the switch on the concrete wall.
“Here they are,” he exclaimed with the enthusiasm of a father showing off a newborn son. I glanced around the room but saw only six old pots made of red clay lining the far wall.
“Ummm, yes, I see. So are these really the treasures of a kingdom?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied matter-of-factly.
I glanced around the room looking for clues and then pointed to a tall fragile looking pot. “What is so special about that?”
“Look for yourself.” He prodded.
I considered the jar from both sides and then stepped closer to the low shelf it was resting on. With both hands gingerly placed on the lip of the jar I tilted it towards me.
Light reflected a thousand different directions as crystals actually formed inside the jar. Blues, greens, purples, and all colors in between tumbled over each other and joined together. “How is that pos…” I began but a reflection of red caught my eye and triggered emotion in me. Love. Sweet pure love. I tried to speak but the words got caught in the recesses of my heart.
“Go ahead, you can touch it.” The owner’s voice came from behind me.
I put my hand down into the jar and felt the outlines of something hard. A large gold crown studded with different jewels shone in front of me as I pulled it out. “Whose crown is this?” I hesitated.
He grinned mischievously. “It’s a work in progress.”
“You really should let more people in to this place. This is amazing!”
“Well, the house is always open,” he repeated.
“Yeah, you said that.” I remarked, “But how come more people don’t know about this?”
“Well, these are only a few of the ones I have. Many more are out in other places. You just have to have your eyes open.” The old man leaned over and took the crown from in front of me. “I love the way they sparkle, don’t you? They reflect the light just right. They are my most treasured possession. ”
He gently placed the crown back in the jar and turned to walk out.
“Wait,” I said, “you can’t just leave them in here.”
“Why not, son?”
“They belong in the palace of kings. They could even be displayed in a museum or something.” I stated lamely knowing that more than anything I wanted to own one.
“Oh, I think we can work something out.” He said cheerfully and grabbed a lump of soft clay.
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