larry answered the phone. james made arrangements to meet him immediately. i believe it was on a saturday we drove the five some hours, past inland forests and over rivers, around the bend to nisqually where you feel the brisk ocean air for the first time, through the outskirt sprawls of tacoma to the metallic high rises of seattle, past the lumber mill and sewage treatment views of everett, and finally, into god's valley. it stretched out like a linen tablecloth before us. the grass seemed greener, the sky seemed bluer, and even with broken stereo speakers i remember it as a chatty and optimistic drive, onward to our destiny, not realizing that day how many countless more times we would drive that long, bleak, almost endless stretch of highway.
we met larry and jane in the gravel backyard of 14011 mactaggart avenue. i assessed the scenery: an airstream, green from the weather, and a large shed with lumber racks, the roof of which was alive with moss and ferns and birds but did little to keep out water. there was also a large tarped boat. and lots of other stuff, piles, foreboding and indistinguishable in the darkness of the shed. we went inside the barn, through the large barn slider in the back, which had swollen from moisture and didn't really want to slide. it was dark inside, dark and dirty, but the ceiling was as high as the sky, all the way up, solid wood illuminated by the south facing windows. it was breathtaking. an old soul, full of history. strewn about haphazardly, there was all sorts of stuff, filing cabinets, boxes, papers, books, photo equipment.. and mannequins. at first glance, i thought someone was standing there, and i was scared shitless. mannequines, six of them, eyes following, some of them armless or wearing sun bleached saris and dusty t-shirts, with no hair or maybe a sunhat, mannequins keeping watch over the place. it appeared as if they were the only ones holding court over this space, abandoned in it's disarray. like ghosts. we went upstairs, looked out the window, and from above the tiniest town called edison looked so beautifully serene, like a baby in a basket.
"well, what do you think?" james asked me that day, after our tour, in that disheveled backyard. "should we do it?"
i could see the gleam of excitement in his eyes.
"yes." i said, not really knowing what i was saying.