Not a single soul in the whole neighbourhood knew who owned the house behind the walls, nor if anyone lived there. It was easily the biggest block on the highest point of the hill, so the land alone would be valuable whether or not the house was. That was the thing – the walls surrounding the property were so high that only a hint of a red roof could be seen, and that was when I was standing on my own roof! I couldn’t tell if the house was brick or wood or wide or long, only that the tallest point of the roof was red.
“If you’re so keen to find out…” Denny grinned, looking up at me through his sunglasses. “I dare you to climb the wall.”
I returned the grin. Denny knew I would never do anything about my curiosity unless I was challenged. Carefully, I slid back down the roof to the ladder and asked Denny to hold it again.
“What do I get?” I asked when I could face him again.
“Nothing.” His grin grew wider. “You’ll never get over that wall. There’s no purchase – you’d need a ladder three times the length of this one.”
I realised he was right. “How about I do one better?” I asked. “I’ll walk through the front gate.”
Denny shook his head. “You can try. No one gets in.”
Even the gate was as high as the wall, though I could see a person-sized door which must have been openable. The wooden palings were so close together that I couldn’t even spy anything through the cracks.
I knocked. Several times. Then I shouted.
Denny, leaning on the wall next to me, shook his head. “You’re not getting in.”
I sighed and rested my head on the wooden gate, trying again to see something, anything. Between the pale white wood, I thought I could see a blur of red. Red bricks? I stared and tried to angle myself to get the best perspective. It didn’t help. I was about to pull away when there was a blur of movement, and the colour changed to the deepest brown. It was so sudden I flinched backwards and lost my place. I tried in vain to find it again, but my accidental peephole was gone.
“What is it?”
“I thought… I thought I saw I saw someone.”
Denny snickered. “Well, if someone was there, they don’t want you in, do they?”
My hands had been resting against the gate. Reluctantly, I pulled away.
“I told ya you’d never get in.”
I didn’t say it, but he was wrong. I just had to build a bigger ladder.