The Roanoker September/October 2017 - 47
THE ROANOKER HOMES 2017
INALLY, WE HAD FOUND IT. My wife
Our guests arrived in shifts, each scheduled to start in
Dana and I stood in front of the brick ranch
the kitchen at the lodge on different days. I tried my
we had just purchased as our realtor snapped
best to stay out of the basement-sure, to grant our
a picture of us for Facebook. The house is deceivingly
guests privacy, but more to escape the entanglement
spacious, although it has 2,700 square feet of livable
of sheets and luggage and stray clothes that five people
space. It took three years of searching to find our home
living together in close proximity create; out of sight,
and would take only three months before it was filled
out of mind.
with seven complete strangers . . .
Once I realized everyone staying was genuinely apDana works at The Peaks of Otter Lodge and the genpreciative of us opening our home to them, I was less
eral manager decided it prudent to overstaff the lodge
concerned with being murdered and more concerned
and restaurant in October, as leaf-season color tends to
with them experiencing all that Roanoke has to offer.
flood the lodge with foliage enthusiasts.
The Atlanta 7, a term we coined for them after they
left, brought a sense of adventure with them that we
DNC, the company operating The Peaks of Otter
Lodge, also manages several restaurants at Turner Field,
had been missing since we bought the house. Our days
the home of the Atlanta Braves. The restaurant staff at
had revolved around improving the layout, the decor,
Turner Field was laid off until the start of the 2017 seathe functionality-any and every aspect of the house
son and they were invited to Bedford to work. I never
had occupied us.
could have imagined that the Braves mediocrity and
Acting as city guides to the Atlanta crew instilled a
failure to make it to the playoffs would have an impact
newfound appreciation for us for our hometown. Roaon our living situation. The problem was the lodge at
noke's small size was a big change of pace for them, espethe Peaks was sold out in October; no spare rooms, even
cially the traffic, or lack thereof compared to downtown
for temporary employees.
Atlanta; I had taken this ease of travel for granted. We
And so, to the ranch they came.
showed them our eclectic restaurants and of course hiked
In our marriage, I'm the one double-checking the
Mill Mountain to see the star. They convinced us to get
locks on the door before bed each night and periodiout on the weekends and spend a few nights downtown.
cally testing the smoke alarms. Dana would gladly sleep
Some of the Atlanta 7 worked day shifts at the Peaks;
with the front door open and throw a chicken in the
others worked at night so the house never felt crowded.
oven just before tucking in at night. So for Dana, the
Things were going well, smoothly even, and I felt comidea was a no-brainer. "Why wouldn't we have complete
fortable, until we got a knock on the door.
strangers live with us to help us with the mortgage? We
It was about 8:30 p.m. Pitch black. I heard Dana
have plenty of space!"
talking with an unfamiliar female voice, who she was
For me, the proposition was maniacal, at least inihaving trouble understanding. I locked eyes with Dana
tially. I pictured the house destroyed in a fit of unproas I passed through the hallway; her eyes screamed, "Get
voked rage on the part of any one of our houseguests, on
over here, NOW."
no particular October night.
The woman at the door
Items would surely go misswas older, her hair coal black,
ing. I thought of installing a
obviously dyed. Her mumchain lock on our bedroom
ble, combined with her undoor, even a chain lock on
blinking eyes, not to menthe door leading from the
tion Halloween just around
finished basement to the
the corner, created an eerie
effect. I watched her hands,
Our office upstairs was
making sure she didn't reach
turned into a bedroom
for a weapon now that she
for our guests, along with
was in the front door. Hearour basement, as cots were
ing unfamiliar voices at the
brought in from the lodge.
door, our Atlanta roommate
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 | 47