86 ,,,,Just looking for a home….
When I awoke Sunday morning in the strange bed, it took me a few minutes to remember where I was, as well as how I got there. I had a feeling as if my mouth was wearing an overcoat. I think almost every woman can tell you where that comes from.
While I was trying to get my mind to focus, I listened to a male voice speaking a foreign language. That’s when I realized I was in Vald’s bed, but he wasn’t. Vald sat in the small sitting area of the hotel room talking on his cell phone.
“So you are finally awake?” he asked.
“No, I’m still asleep,” I replied meaning every word of it.
“Well, I spoke with my contact at the FBI. It will take longer than I expected to get the information about Ivan’s contact.”
“Oh why is that?” I asked.
“They have an operative inside. They want to make sure that we will not endanger him, before they release the information.”
I had another one of those bad feeling about Vlad. I wondered who in the FBI could be speaking Russian to Vlad. I didn’t say anything. What I did was to ask, “How long will it take to get the Intel?”
“Two or three days. then they will come back with a name and location. After that we need to come up with a plan.”
“They have somebody inside working, but we need to come up with a plan. What’s that all about?”
“It’s about, me not being able to stay here for years while the FBI dicks around. It’s about putting this to rest, so that I can go home. For you it should be about ending your Russian connection permanently.”
“Vlad honey, for me it’s about staying alive. I have a very strong desire to live forever.”
“Then I hate to inform you of this Maxine, but no one lives forever.”
“I know that, I plan to be the first.” I said it with a smile.
“Well. we have a couple of days with nothing to do. Does that give you any ideas?” he asked.
“Yes, it gives me some time to start looking for a new place to live. Give me a call when you have something to report.” I said as I swung my legs off the bed.
“Are you going to leave me?”
“Sweetie, one blow job does not a long term commitment make.” I replied. I finished dressing kissed him goodbye with my breath baring evidence of what I had done. Even though I had been sober at the time, I had a hard time remembering where I left the cruiser. The parking lot was big and also full. The hotel wasn’t full but the parking lot was. The First Baptist Church of Tryon shared the parking lot with the hotel. Hotels don’t have a lot of Sunday morning guests, and the church doesn’t need the space during the week. It was a symbiotic relationship if there ever was one.
On the way home I passed the office where I had worked until recently. The parking lot was empty. I should have gone in to start removing my tools, but I had no where to store them. I could only hope that Lucas and Gwen would respect my property and leave it alone.
When I arrived at my gated drive, I checked the camera images on line. It appeared that nothing have been disturbed. When I pulled into the yard, nobody was there to greet me. I didn’t like that at all. I was pretty depressed, when I thought about my life. There was just no getting away from the realization of how bad a turn my life had taken.
I felt a little better after I brushed my teeth, took a shower, then brushed my teeth again. I was beginning to have thoughts of actually eating again. Maybe my life wasn’t hopeless after all, I thought.
I was sitting in the McDonald’s dining room, munching on a double cheeseburger and fries, while drinking a fake chocolate milkshake, when the phone rang. “Hello Jen” I said once I found the phone. I also smiled at the people who listened the the theme from the Magnificent Seven blaring from my purse.
“Max what the hell is this I hear from Ed about you being evicted?”
“It’s what you just said. I have to be out by next Sunday.” I admitted.
“You can move back in with me and Bob,” she suggested. “At least until you fine a new place.”
“No way, you know things can get really risky with me around. I will not do that to you guys again.”
“Bullshit, you are just afraid I will demand sex from you every night,” she said with a giggle.
“Yeah, that too. Once you go to the Dark side it never ends.” I suggested lightly.
“The Dark side is a black lover not one with boobs,” Jennifer said to correct me.
“Whatever, I will not be moving in with you and that is final.”
“Okay then, do you remember that small welfare motel that Reverend Archer runs?” She asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Meet him there at three today. Trust me it will be worth your while.” She knew me well enough to know I would be asking why.
“Okay, but there better be some reason for this.” I hoped it wasn’t anything too difficult. I had way too much on my plate suddenly. Since I didn’t have a plan for the afternoon, I drove to the marina. Yes it was chilly, but I managed to stay long enough to drink two cups of very bad vending machine coffee. I badly regretted that I hadn’t taken my big delta cup to McDonalds, since they had much better coffee.
I was chillled to the bone by the time I left for the Motel. The Reverend used the old cinder block building to warehouse his mission workers. I had no idea what to expect, when I arrived.
“So Maxine, when Jennifer heard you lost you house, she remembered that I was going to sell the motel. We bought an old downtown apartment building. It has enough room to house everyone in one spot.”
“Why would either you or Jennifer think I wanted this dump?” I asked.
“This is Everette, he is the manager for the construction arm of The laboring few.”
“Hello Everette,” I said smiling at the man old enough to be my dad. In other words Everette was about seventy. He had a face ravaged by hard work in the sun and hard drinking everywhere.
“Everette tell her what you and Jennifer discussed,” the reverend demanded.
“Well Miss Maxine, there are ten units. We can move the door on one unit and make a door between two of the units . That would give you five efficiency apartments. It will be small, but it will have a living room kitchen and a bedroom with bath. Best of all the conversion will be reasonably inexpensive.”
“So what are you talking about reasonably inexpensive?” I asked.
“Turn key ready to move in and rent $150,000,” Everette said.
“I’ll think about it.” I said.
“What’s to think about these will rent for $400 a month easy.” Archer said.
“If it was that good a deal, you would have had it done already with someone else. I think I will give it some thought. Maybe have someone check out the plan and give me an independent value for the project.”
“Alright but don’t wait too long. Once we get the renovations done the price will be much higher,” the Reverend said.
I pulled Archer aside. “Don’t try to play me, and I won’t call you out in front of the ‘few’.”
“I’m not trying to play you,” he said, but it wasn’t a very confident statement.
“Archer, I’m not some mooch. I know that right now on this kind of property the banks want 25% down. I also know most people don’t have that kind of money. You are not about to risk money fixing this place without some kind of guarantee it will sell for enough to pay The Laboring Few for their efforts.” I paused and looked him in the eye and asked, “Why are you really selling it.”
“The city of Tryon wants me to buy up Davenport’s empire. Davenport screwed the crap out of everybody, but if he had played it straight he would have been a beneficial part of the town. So I need to raise cash to pay off the property and repair it. It’s a huge endeavor.”
“You aren’t really going to take over all those condemned housing units are you?” I asked.
“No, it’s the group homes and the family mission which the city wants to stay active.”
“Okay, let me find someone to give a true value for the place, as it sits right this minute. I will make you an offer, and then allow The laboring Few to bid on the renovations.” I suggested.
“Well that sounds fair,” Archer admitted.
By lunch on Tuesday I had the appraisal. The report put the value of the property between $45,00 and $55,00. My guess was that the repairs we at least as much. The question was did I want to tie most of my money up in the property.
By Wednesday, I had decided that it was as good an investment as I was likely to find. I wrote the Reverend a check for $48,000. Since business in general was pretty slow the few agreed to do their repair estimate the next day.
“Hey Vlad,” I said into the phone. “What the hell is happening with Ivan the terrible?”
“I haven’t been able to get an answer yet,” he informed me.
“You need to light a fire under them. The longer we wait, the harder it’s going to be, I’m getting more on my plate all the time. Life can’t just stop for this project.”
“I understand Maxine. I will try to find out something today.” His tone was a little short. He obviously was frustrated.”
“I know you want to get this over with, even more than I do, so I’ll get off your case. It’s just that I bought a place that needs a lot of work and I want to get started on it. I don’t want to walk away for a couple of weeks right in the middle of it.”
“I get it Maxine, you want to get on with the job. I understand and I want to move forward myself.”
“I know Vlad. Try to build a fire under their ass, if you can. In the meantime I will begin work on the place. Even after we get the go ahead we need a plan.”
“I know. We will come up with something I’m sure.” Vlad’s voice over the phone tried to reassure me. It wasn’t working all that well.
I scheduled a meeting with the foreman of The Laboring Few for that same afternoon. The man who showed up had the same look as the one I had met a couple of days before. He looked like a man who had spent some time on the streets.
“From when I lived in this building, I can tell you we put a new roof on it two years ago, so that is a good thing.”
“Yes it is.,” I agreed. “So tell me what is the minimum needed to meet code?”
“Code for apartments is not the same as code for a motel.”
“Then lets try it this way,” I want the apartment to have two rooms. The entrance would be a living room kitchen combination. The second would be a bedroom and bath.”
“That’s pretty simple. We just cut a door between two of the units, You would end up with five apartments.”
“So we can’t close the outside bedroom door?” I asked.
“We can, if we move it to the rear of the unit. Cu it in what used to be the dressing area of the bedroom.”
“Give me seperate prices for the connecting doorway, and moving the bedroom door. It might not be worth the expense.”
“Okay, now what about the power?” he asked.
“What does it need?”
“New breakers and meters for each unit. You probably need a new heating system as well. Those window heat pumps are old and very inefficient.”
“Okay, you know what I want. A good renovation, but also as cheap as possible.” We shook hands as he headed back to his office to price out the job.
I planned to call another builder for a price once I got the renovation plans decided. I was waitig to hear from his laboring few, when I got the call from Vlad.