5631 Braxton Dr., Houston, TX 77036
January 2004–The tall street lamp in front of 5631 Braxton Dr. leans, ready to fall at any moment. It appears to be the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Water gushed out of the fire hydrant next to the street lamp. The one responsible for the mess only places safety cones around the ocean of water as if it were some means of saying “Caution: Wet Floor”. The building is dark and bleak. It looks as if it was a part of Gotham City. Stripped of its paint in almost all areas, the building shows its age with deep cracks in its concrete walls. Hidden graffiti emerges from beneath the blackened white paint, showing its lot used to be a hangout for a street gang. Many Heineken and Corona glass bottles have been shattered across the graying tar behind the building – maybe from a street fight or a drunkard too lazy to use a proper trashcan. The rear entrance doors of the building have rusted and are corroding to pieces of scrap metal.
The lot behind the building suggests that arson was committed. It has been fenced off as if it were still a crime scene. Melted iron, pieces of ceiling and other burned items are cleared to the side of the lot; only small rocks and pebbles remain on the foundation. It looks like a ghost town. There are makeshift cardboard houses to the side where scrap metal has been used to make small roofs. Many hobos probably have lived here. The area is dark, cluttered, and grossly sickening to smell. The smell can only be created by the cesspool of urine and rotting feces. One would imagine that it would have been decayed by now, but someone must have lived here for a few short days and then abruptly left. But one can only imagine what happened to this once-was building, since only the foundation remains as a reminder to construct another building in its place.
As I walk back down the dark alley on the side of the building, I step on pieces of glass. All that can be heard is the crunching of the glass between the tar and my size thirteen Nike shoe sole. The building to my left looks brand new; it seems to have been renovated not too long ago. The spot of land I stand on is sinking deeper into the ground. There are many other areas on the lot where similar depressions and dips, causing potholes, have been made. There is a Re/Max sign in front of 5631 Braxton Dr. that says “for sale” and beneath it a crooked sign that reads “sold”. Maybe this new owner will renovate this building just as its neighbor has, or maybe he will tear the building down and a new one will rise and carry the name of 5631 Braxton Dr. The sign is also mysterious in its own – it has rusted over, which could mean that the building was sold quite a long time ago. I dismiss the idea of it being that old of a building and move on in my journey of discovery of this worn building.