This is purely silly. As I write this I am sitting in an AirBnB rental in central Oregon. The picture here is of the front door.

Have you ever seen anything more clearly fake? The owner tells me this door was installed about 5 years ago. Clearly it was new then. Observe the dings, each one exactly the same length, width, and depth, carefully and evenly spaced on the surface. This is so that everyone will know that they were deliberately put there, and are not damage caused by shipping. Admire the grating that guards the Judas. That is not a mere security peephole, it’s a good square portal about six inches on each side.

This is the Judas, seen from the inside. There is no glass in that portal. A wussy little metal latch, the kind of thing you would find on a dime store jewelry box, keeps the Judas shut. This is downright dangerous. Never install this style of front door, no matter how medieval you feel! If you wanted to break into this house, you’d need something like a tire iron or maybe a two by four. Hammer it into the Judas — the wide bars will easily allow your bludgeon to pass. The wussy latch immediately folds like a cheap card table, and the Judas swings open. I can easily get my hand and arm through the grating from the outside, and reach down to unlock the door.

 Finally, just pour encourager les autres, let’s see a genuinely ancient door. This door is in the village of Conques-sur-Orbeil, a few miles north of Carcassonne in southern France. I would guess that it is not more than two hundred years old. All the paint has worn off, and the owner is keeping the portal operational by supporting the sagging door jamb with scaffolding. The larger hole was cut for the cat, which is how we can guess at the date. The building probably was used to store grain, and the cat’s job was to keep down the mice. The small lower hole, which I assumed was for the mouse, is probably just weather damage. Doorways of this age in Europe are not of a standard size, since the walls were built of random chunks of stone. This means that each and every door and window had to be hand-made to fit the portal by some craftsman. And that means that a replacement also has to be hand-made to fit, a brutal expense these days. The owner of the house is obviously determined to dodge the expense for as long as he can. And yes, the door is locked securely. You cannot reach the lock from the cat hole.



About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.

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