(out of story note: Thought you might find it interesting that this site will have 50K hits by 9pm. The sol site has over 68k hits. The Maxine soap opera has over a 110k hits. Of course I wanted to say thank you)
(Also the orthopedic guy said I was good to go finally)
The weekend came and went with nothing of interest happening. Monday I attended the meeting with the savings and loan officer. He made me an offer and I made him a counter offer based on the cost and amount of work to renovate the building He based his on the amount left on the loan, which they had given Billy. When the real estate market was rolling, Billy had bought the building then never quite figured out what to do with it.
It was my plan to buy it at the bottom end of the cycle and renovate it immediately. I figured to turn it into four units and the reception hall just as quickly as possible. The loan officer was sympathetic with the plan, but not very helpful. It looked as though I had wasted not only my time, but also that of ‘His Laboring Few’.
“You have to understand Ms Stone, we are not in the business of losing money,” he said with a smile.
“Neither am I,” I said without the greasy smile. I hoped that it had the same finality. “The difference is, I can recognize, when I am in a no win situation. Buying a building that needs a Quarter of a million dollars of renovations at almost any price is a loser. So I think I am going to just let you carry this on your books as a default.”
“I know you want to build another dwelling unit downtown Ms Stone, so where will you go for a building?” he asked in that greasy voice.
“Courthouse steps,” I said standing to go.
“Ms Stone,” an even older man, who had sat quietly in the corner, said. “You know we can’t take a complete loss on the building. If we take the principle we loaned Mr Ames and subtract his payments directly from that, would you pay the difference.”
“Billy borrowed $100.000 on the building more or less,” he said. “His payments, if applied directly to that figure would bring the price down to $80,000 more or less.” the old man said.
“No, I can’t do that. I will up my offer to $60,000 even though that will put me in a shaky position,” I said. You are going to have to write off 20K or 80K it’s up to you. If I take the building, it leaves your portfolio forever. If someone else takes it, you might have to carry the note for them. Potentially the expense of servicing the note goes on forever.”
“So this is a cash transaction on our books?” the younger man asked.
“It is. My lawyer will write you an escrow check.” I suggested.
“You drive a hard bargain Ms. Stone, but I think we can work with that figure. Have your lawyer send us a proposal and we will counter sign it.” he said,
“Mr. Jennings, you don’t want to drag your feet on this. Don’t give me an excuse to bail on this deal. Jen will get something to you today, so that I can get something done with Billy day after tomorrow. If it isn’t ready to go, I am going to bail on the deal. It isn’t that good of a deal anyway.”
“Then why are you doing it,” the older man asked.
“Friendship,” I replied as I stood to leave. “Just doing a solid, for people who did one for me.”
By Friday I was sure things with Billy were going to work out. Vlad brought the Woody back to me. He was being followed by Leon in an almost new Honda of some kind. “So I see you bought a car?” I commented.
“Yes, it is a rental car sold by Avis. The price was good and your friend Jen arranged for the money to change hands without too much paperwork.” he said.
“Yeah Jen is good about spending other people’s money. She probably should become a loan shark, god know she has enough muscle for the collections. Her client list has to be filled with the worst of the worst.” I said.
I was a little surprised when Vlad laughed so easily. “So when do I get to see the plans for your townhouse units?” he asked.
“Depends on how much imagination you have?” I said.
“My imagination is just fine, I could image that you were a normal woman,” he said laughing.
“Oh and what am I?” I asked seriously.
“I have decided that you are either a transsexual or have a sever hormonal issue,” he said with a laugh.
“Oh does the beard give me away?” I asked.
“No, you are the only woman I know, who would lay in the woods for a day just to kill a man,” he said.
“Well that doesn’t sound like a compliment,” I said.
“It depends on whether you want someone to take to the opera, or to stand watch outside the building where you are working.”
“It is true that I don’t care for the opera, but I don’t care to be the lookout either,” I said.
“But I would trust you to be the lookout, but if I took you to the opera, everyone would know you were pretending.” Vlad laughed trying to ease his words. It didn’t really work that well.
“I’ll show you the space anytime you want,” I agreed.
“Then it is just across the street. Lets go look,” he suggested.
We entered through the front door. “I’m thinking a security door here in the front and a grand stairway leading up to the two higher floors.” I saw his look of concern. “Not a grand stairway hon, the grand entrance. One stairway on either side going to different floors. What I have now is a service stairs entering from the rear door.
They originally used the upper floors for storage or something of the sort. It might have even been some kind of sweatshop. They did some sewing in the downtown back during WWII. This might have been where they did it.”
We were on the large open second floor when he said, “Yes it is not very, how do you say, user friendly at the moment.
“That’s exactly how you say it. We will probably do with a small hallway right here around the rear stairs with a door to each of two units. Both units will have a street view from the font and a parking lot view from the rear. One will have a side view of the street and the other an alley view. I would love to make it different but I can’t.
However since the building next door is one story, the top floor units will all have view of some sort. I’m thinking I might have to hold onto the one unit with no view and make it a rental unit.” What I didn’t tell him was that they all might be rentals if they didn’t sell quickly.
“So the units will be railroad tunnel designs,” he said.
“Exactly,” I agreed. “Pretty much like my place only all on one floor.”
“Before you do anything to the interior of the unit, I would like to see it and make an offer possibly.” Vlad said quietly.
“You know there will be a homeowners association fee for the exterior maintenance,” I explained.
“Yes, I am aware of that.” he admitted. Vlad left and I felt better about the building.
My life revolved around builders and building inspectors for the next two months. While the building was under renovation, we got all the paperwork on the laundromat worked out. After a month of dicking with the all girls school, and setting up the trust for the baby, everything just seemed to happen at once. I took a load of clothes to the laundromat when it was all settled. “Susu we need to talk,” I said it to get her away from her mother. I wasn’t all that easy and I hadn’t expected it to be.
Once we were alone I continued, “Your baby’s father was killed yesterday. He died in a prison fight. Nobody knows just exactly how it happened, but he won’t be back to bother you again.” I waited to judge her reaction, but there was none. She wasn’t happy or sad, just accepting of it as part of her lot in life.
“So I decided that you and I needed to work out a deal. No one else has to know unless you want to tell them. I bought this building from Billy Ames. I am your new landlady, so in exchange for you doing my laundry free forever, I am going to sign it over to your baby. That is if you want it. You not only don’t have to pay for your use, you get to keep the money from everyone else’s use of the machines, just like Billy did.”
“Why are you doing this?” she asked bluntly. Obviously her mother’s suspicion of American’s was passed on to her.
“Because you have always been fair with me. You and your mother have worked hard and as far as I can tell, you have asked nothing of anyone. So you deserve a break. And of course I hate to wash clothes. It’s just a business deal for me,” I said.
“How can I thank you?” she asked.
“You can get rich, and then do something kind for someone else one day,” I said. “Now explain this to your mom without making it sound like I am trying to pull something over on her.”
It was my good deed for the year, and of course no good deed goes unpunished. I got on the emailing list of the School for the donation I had arranged. I forwarded them on to the gang leader in prison. I thought that was only fair.
Since I wasn’t actually doing any of the work on the drugstore, I was bored to tears. Now and then I dressed in my oldest clothes and went to the building to swing a hammer or clean something. It just wasn’t the same as having a job. Eve became a frequent flier during that time as well. She began going places for a few days at a time. I had no idea what she was doing and I didn’t really want to know.
I was spending more and more time at the Marina. I was even considering sailing lessons, but it was just a vague thought in the back of my mind.
I was authorizing payments left and right for purchases or work for the Drugstore.. I had a third of a million bucks in the Drugstore when I finished paying the bills. The weather was gorgeous for the July 4th grand opening.
Vlad bought his unit before ‘His Laboring Few’ even finished the structural work on the others. He had a crew of Russian ex-patriots working on the interior. There were more than a few arguments for me to mediate, but all in all they worked pretty well together. Vlad chose the unit on the second floor with views of both city streets. I had expected him to do that. It was a few grand cheaper then the one right above it and still had pretty much the same views.
Leon bought the one above Vlad but with the view overlooking the roof of the building next door. The only two units left were the prime top floor unit which was priced the highest and the one I never expected to sell. I did get a variance from the city to allow metal balconies over the alley. Leon had the one with the view, but the worst unit would have a place to cook out as well as Leon’s unit.
The two groups of retired operatives moved into their new homes during the dog days of summer. I kind of enjoyed the company, even though we seldom saw each other socially. Now and then we would get together and do something fun.
As th saying goes build it and they will come. A trickle of just past middle aged operatives began to show up. Most just showed up at Helen’s sit down and sat at my table. I somehow got to be the welcome wagon for spies and other assorted cutthroats.