In the rain the house is a rotting onion. It heaves and bloats and browns, its white paint carried away in chips to the rock driveway. The garage, unattached and back a little, is further along in the process. It only has a dirt floor, and two years ago we buried a girl in it. There's an old Saab as her marker, covered with a tarp. The engine is blown. It's my car, but I haven't touched it since we pushed it out of there the morning of her death, and then back in.

The house is empty but they're not selling it. I still have a key.

Under the front porch is a stench - dead squirrels, I'd guess, trapped and drowned in their sleep by rain. To the right of the front door I envision the pile of gooed-up shoes no longer there. To the left, the charcoal grill. In one corner, Ray's ashtray. In another, a battery-powered sports radio we used for baseball games. Inside, whole rooms worn thin by thirty years of college kids.

It was a good place to party. It wasn't a block from the dorms, and yet it was secluded: Just a step off the small front lawn, to the south, was a four-lane road that fed into the heart of campus; to the east, a parking lot for the college, unused at night; to the north, an empty warehouse, last inhabited by a golf-cart manufacturer. And to the west, another house, long abandoned, certain to be razed, as soon the city's budget turns around a little. On weekends and certain Thursday nights, the house was a furnace; when the cops did citywide sweeps to quell loud, drunken parties, we roared on.

There were five rooms. Two upstairs, wood floors, and three down, musty shag carpet. In my basement room hung that famous poster of Jim Morrison from the latticework of metal pipes that fueled the house. Left behind by the last tenants, it was close to life size, and the Lizard King pursed his lips at my chest after I positioned my bed under him.

I didn't know The Doors' music beyond the occasional radio song when I moved it, but the poster made me listen to it. I was a suburban kid and I warmed to the excesses of it.

At night I'd close my eyes to Jim's martyr pose and imagine a basement room not unlike mine, seen only by a red light from the floor, filled ten deep with women, poised for Jim and I to take turns. I saw us all in a pile, traveling toward one encounter and away from another, with one small blonde woman on top, wrecked and sobbing, examining her burning red hand as a silhouette against the basement window.

Once in that pile was my mother. Once, another man. Other times, little girls.

At some point I realized that it wasn't Jim Morrison. I took down the poster and forged past the bedroom to the basement shower.

Some construction misfit designed its ceilings three feet higher than the rest of the surrounding rooms. The showerhead was nearly too high for me to adjust but it sent out thick hot streams of water, like the dorm showers did.

I took girls in there. We squeezed in and we reddened our eyes under the thick hot surge. I made strange requests; some looked at me, fearful, while others eyed me curiously, because the other guys had never asked those things.

"You don't like it regular?" they would ask.

"I like more," was my answer. They wouldn't have guessed it, they'd say. And I wouldn't have guessed it of some of them.

The encounters melted together and mostly remain a blur, but I crack open the door to the bathroom now and the place is still mine. Its strong smell during a rain. That little window, half submerged in dirt, wedged into the ceiling above the sink. The green shag floormat just in front of the shower opening, where a girl could put her hands for balance.

The girl we buried was found in the shower itself, naked except for her black thong panties. Her face was pressed into a corner, she was kneeling, and her hands flailed to her sides. It had been hours. When we flipped her over, her tongue was starting to turn black and blood had seeped down from her brain to glaze over in her eyes; they resembled cinnamon hard candies.

Her name was Sheila Embry. She was twenty. She was from Detroit. She majored in communications for a year, dropped out, worked in a frozen yogurt shop, got laid off, faced eviction, and died turning a trick for two snorts of crank and hundred dollars on a Thursday night.