Ike's Auction Barn

For me Ike's Auction Barn is not so much a representation of rural architecture as it is one of those mysterious places of mind that keeps shape shifting. Memories you can't quite recall. Ideas that come and go and never quite make sense. Perhaps the true source in my mind of Ike's Auction Barn is a random fragment of dna inherited from a disturbed ancestor. I dunno.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. It's 1983 and I'm writing Whisper My Name, the third novel in the Darby Chronicles. Picture a ramshackle wood-frame building of two stories with a shed roof. On the bottom story is a good-sized apartment where Ike Jordan and his family live. On the second story is a smaller apartment, which is accessed from a side stairway that leads to a deck with rotted floor boards and a rickety wood railing. Various kin of Ike live in that apartment over the years. Beside the apartment there's another smaller apartment, the door padlocked.

This space is used for storage of burglarized objects that are dear to Ike. Only he has the key. He'll enter, always alone, and admire the objects he has stolen. Most of the stuff he steals he'll sell to another flea market operator in Connecticut, but some items are precious and Ike keeps them in this room. They are not objects of great value; they are items one might find in a bedroom where a woman sleeps: various articles of women's clothing, a bottle of perfume, several vibrators and vanity mirrors, even a manikin of a tall female model with out her wig. The idea of woman completely hairless, not even eyebrows, is a turn-on for Ike. I don't believe I have to go into detail to explain the use that Ike Jordan makes of these objects.

Flash ahead now to the next book, the Passion of Estelle Jordan. Upon Ike's death his special room was discovered by his eldest son, Carleton "Critter" Jordan. For Critter the room becomes a memorial to his father who he thought he hated until the father was murdered and he, Critter, in his shock visited scenarios in his head where he for a brief believed that he had killed his father and somehow repressed the act. When he got over these weird feelings he realized that he did not hate his father, but had hated himself. By book seven, Howard Elman's Farewell, Critter's his hatred of his father had turned to something else, not quite love but close.

In the rear of the building is the brainchild of Critter, a commercial business which faces the parking lot. A bright neon sign says, "LOOK UP!". Inside are peep show booths, popular along lonely roads before the coming of the Internet. This environment is very important to the plot of The Passion of Estelle Jordan. Beside the wood building is an almost square one-story concrete block building with no windows. It has a front entrance, an emergency back door and a concrete floor. No windows. This area serves as a flea market and auction barn.

Ike's Auction Barn, which I first described in Whisper My Name, persists but with changes throughout the Darby Chronicles and, if I keep writing, say, scripts for the video game, Darby Doomsday, no doubt it will undergo more changes.

My descriptions of Ike's Auction Barn vary somewhat from book to book, but the imagery I present is clear enough for the readers; however, in my mind Ike's Auction Barn consists of a huge collection of images, some realistic, some cubist, some abstract, from the real world and later distorted through my faulty memory and loonytoons imagination.

There's the flea market in what was once the cow barn of the Page Homestead farm in Swanzey, New Hampshire. There's a plain concrete structure with an attached house that was Stan's grocery on Route 12 in Westmoreland, New Hampshire. (Stan was Stanley Castor, who was a friend of mine when were students at St. Joseph's Elementary School.) There's the set of crazy houses built for the Robert Altman Popeye movie on the island of Malta; the set is still there, a tourist site.) There's a porn shop I visited in White River Junction Vermont in the basement of a strip club, later destroyed by fire that I reference in my novel Never Back Down. There's a second-story deck of a distressed motel I stayed at during one of my many road trips ($14 a night, best bargain I ever got for a motel room). There's an auction barn in an actual renovated barn of an auctioneer I wrote a news story about when I was freelance writer.

I could spend a career writing about and drawing pictures of various representations of Ike's Auction Barn. Maybe in some future life I will.