“Will Walt ever finish his house?”
Probably not… The house that Walt lives in is pretty much the house I built for my wife and me back when we first had the ranch. There wasn’t much money to go around so we lived with particleboard floors, plastic windows, appliances still on the truck skids, a mattress on the floor, a concrete block for a porch, and no gutters. It was hard, but we had each other and we survived. As we slowly started making a little money we made improvements, but it was slow going. I think we pretty much lived like that for seven years or so and then finally put a floor down and replaced the crappy windows and doors.
The old saying is that a man knows how to build a house, but a woman knows how to make it a home. I think Walt was in that seven-year-period that Judy and I were when Martha died and he never got his momentum back. I’m not sure that by the time we discover him in The Cold Dish that he’s even aware of the house around him—it’s like he doesn’t even see it anymore.
It’s interesting to me but there are entire books that take place in Absaroka County where Walt never even makes it home. It’s as if he’s avoiding the place, almost like the presence of Martha is at its strongest there, and he still can’t completely face it.
The piano in the living room haunts him, and it’s reassuring that through the novels he starts playing now and again. I think music is more important to him than he likes to admit, but like books, they express something in him that he can’t completely leave behind. He’s made improvements–like the porch–and with Henry and Cady’s encouragement, he’ll continue to make advancements, but I’m not sure he’ll ever make it.
He still has a TV there, but I’m not sure if he ever turns it on anymore… If he ever did, he’d discover that broadcast television hasn’t existed for years now.