The moment I set eyes on Castaic #77 that summer afternoon—a small cabin-like house in the mountain forest—I fell in love with it right on the spot.
“Well, I’ve got to tell you there is a jail two miles down the road,” Wallace, my agent, casually told me. He was an honest and hardworking realtor whose cozy office was always stuffed with photos of his family.
“Oh, sounds close, doesn't it?” I responded with some eerie feeling, having been settled in the States for so long a time and had never encountered the word “jail” before. “That place is what we call 'Correctional Center.' This little path here, anyhow, leads to a dead-end, no other way out at all. So, prisoners wouldn’t be silly enough to...” Wallace added, trying to reassure me that Castaic 77 was still a sensible pick, regardless.
“Correctional Center” sounded a bit different and less dreadful to me. “I am okay with that,” I said, being fond of the cabin too much to give it up. Two days before, Wallace had taken me to downtown to see a gorgeous, “outlandish-style” house and told me that its selling price was unbelievably good. I was tempted a bit. However, no sooner had I seen this cabin house at the moment than I changed my mind and forgot about that downtown house completely.
It was a bit cloudy that day when the former owner of the cabin house, a stubby man in his fifties, was moving the last batch of his stuff out of Castaic #77. I stood outside the front door, peeking inside—A wooden cross … still hanging there on the wall in the living room.
“Oh, how come that is still there?” I asked, pointing to the wooden cross.
“You don’t want to keep it?” The man replied in his low and deep voice. “I thought it might be good for you. But if you want me to remove it, I’ll take it down today.”
“Never mind; leave it here.” Somehow the words just escaped my lips.