“Sure,” I said as I watch him walk into my trap. The place had last been a women’s boutique. There were still racks for clothes attached to the walls. “I have no idea what to do with those racks since we wont be dealing in clothes.”
“It likely won’t take much to turn them into shelf displays,” he said.
“That’s probably true,” I said smiling as if he were a genius. “Take a look out the back door.”
“Holy shit come look Allen. That view is beautiful,” Jeremy said.
I looked out the back door and saw the sailboats running up and down the bay. “To be honest we don’t have the boats every time, but we have the cars going over the bridge in the rain sometimes and the lights at night are beautiful,” I said. Sorry you won’t be here to see that. Mel’s Diner and all.”
“Now that you have won Jeremy over, let’s go look at the pub,” The Brit suggested. He knew what I was doing.
“Okay,” I laughed. “You can’t blame a girl for trying.” On the way out I gave Jeremy a copy of Wilson’s floor plan.
It was only a few steps to the next building on the corner. The door to the old bank building was built on the corner of the building so it didn’t really face either street but was placed at an angle to each of them.
Since it had been a bank, the doorway emptied into a large room which had once been the bank’s lobby. I had no idea how many times it had change decor. But it was down to sleazy 5&10 by the time it went empty. It had probably sat empty for at least five years.
“Well the good news is there is very little to be done structurally to it. The walls will need painting and that awful carpet taken up. Whatever is under it has to be better. If not you can have those flooring guys come in and put down new floors pretty cheap. There is an elevator you are going to want to turn into a closet,” Allen said. “There is lots of really nice wood work. You can make a bar where the old teller’s counter went. You will need to have it rewired but that’s not all that expensive. There is room to put tables out in the lobby and room for the refrigeration and keg storage behind the bar. All in all I think 25K would come close to getting it done.”
“So what is the bad part,” I asked. “You are going to have a stairway to nowhere. The other two units had a stairway to a second floor hall between them. I have no idea what is up there, but this stairway leads to nothing useful to a bar.”
“To be honest I didn’t see the upstairs. Wilson went up and did the floor plan but we were concerned with down here. Let’s go up and see what is up there,” I suggested.
It had obviously been used as offices for the Executive’s of the bank and probably nothing more than storage since. There were four large offices. I could see where each room might have had two desks except for the front office over the door. It had wood paneling everywhere. It was obviously the Manager or President’s office.
In keeping with the times there was one large communal bathroom on that floor. There was also a large metal fire escape. It would need to be inspected for sure.
“I would guess from the layout it is going to have to be one large apartment. It will take just the right person to rent it.
“I’m no builder but I think a deck would be easy to put up here and use the bar entrance as your emergency exit. A little imagination and you could make a nice apartment or maybe even two up here,” Jeremy suggested.
“I expect a deck to replace the rusty old fire escape would work really well. It would give the tenants a view of the bay for sure. The business will have to be renovated for that view as well. It won’t be cheap but it has to be done,” I suggested.
Yes I totally agree with a view like that it would almost criminal not to showcase it,” Jeremy said.
For two more hours we walked around the property discussing changes I needed to insist on being made. Finally we were finished. Jeremy and Allen went back to the hotel to change for dinner. I expected they also went to walk on the beach. I went back to the barge. I was surprised to find that Mel had turned the office into a prep kitchen. Okay not all the office just the reception area. She was busy chopping crap and making sauces on a cook top that came from somewhere. I had no idea where. It was a unit larger than the single burner we had in the barge. I had no idea where it came from, but I expected to get a bill for it.
“So how you doing?” I asked.
“I’m doing fine. I think I’m getting a handle on what we want to do at the restaurant,” Mel said.
“Good. Should I ask or wait to be surprised?” I asked.
“Wait to be surprised,” she said.
“Then I’m off to shower and I’ll be on the deck if you need any help,” I said.
“Oh I have Wilson. He said it would be okay since it was Saturday,” she suggested looking a little worried.
“Yes of course, it’s alright,” I said. I had no idea but somehow all the activity at the marina made me sad. It didn’t make me depressed, angry, or feeling put upon. It just made me sad somehow. I had no explanation at all, it just did.
After my shower I put on the skinny jeans and Russian commando knockoff tee shirt. I felt better after the shower. I took a bock beer out to the deck and sipped it. I was thinking about the pub in County Seat and the night we had drank dark beer there just the four of us, The Brit, Andrew, Liam and I. Now Liam was dead, Andrew in god only knew what condition, and The Brit and I ready to try out Mel’s new restaurant food. It didn’t make any sense to me.
I could still see Liam and the others come through that school room door all geared up and ready to kill the son of a bitch that killed me. It just so happened it didn’t turn out that way. Sure I suppose you could say I did the same for him, but I wasn’t in time. Maybe if I had been there, I thought. Hell I knew I was suffering from survivor guilt, but knowing it didn’t make it any better. I was just going to have to live through it. No matter what the shrinks said about their witchcraft, they couldn’t make it easier to live through. I could handle it. I always had.
About ten more minutes of beating myself up and then Mel rang the dinner bell. I went down to find Allen, Jeremy and Wilson along with some of the people from the marina present. While we went through the line the old men showed up with their wives. So the gang was all there.
Then by the time I got through the line with three different kinds of hot dogs on the plain rolls and a small bowl of soup the fucking TV crew showed up. They at least left the camera in the car.
“The old men told us about this dinner. They were pretty sure you would never agree to our filming, but I wanted to try,” Lois said.
I gave it some thought before I answered. “Well persistence and a thick skin should be rewarded, so if you fuss out everyone you don’t get a clearance from you can film. You will not get one from me.”
“I expected that,” she said. She wandered off to film and record those who were willing. I settled at the end of the dock to try the hot dogs first. The questionnaire asked which ones we like and which ones we didn’t. Those dogs were undressed so it was just the taste of the dog being judged. The soup was a sweet bean concoction reminiscent of baked beans. It was actually very good.
I liked the spicy sausage dog and what I thought was a beef wiener. Mel also had what was obviously a turkey or chicken dog which I thought was terrible. I said that as well as praised the ones I liked. Then I went back to my deck to drink beer till the TV crew left. I did that so they had unfettered access to the guests.
Brit and Jeremy were helping take the paper plates and other trash to the cans at the edge of the parking lot. I had a private trash service that would come take them away. Mine was an on demand service. Whenever the cans were full Wilson or EZ called and they scheduled pick up for sometime within the next two days.
I went down to talk to The Brit. We walked out to the end of the pier alone before speaking. “So do you think I will ever get it all sorted out,” I said.
“Remember the first time you got shot?” he asked.
“Sure, but it wasn’t with Swamp Dog,” I said.
“First you bleed, then you realize it hurts like hell. After a while the pain eases and finally it goes away. After all that you have a scar to remind you that you are only human, and life is a transitory thing. Then you go back to living. I don’t give fuck what the shrinks tell you, that is our reality. You haven’t gotten to the scar stage yet. If you can stay with it, you will. If not your spirit will wither away and die while you empire build,” he said then laughed. “Life according to a goat farmer in Greece.”
“Your lessons are pretty much the ones I am trying to apply, but it is hard. It is much easier when you don’t know their names,” I said.
“By the way the Israeli Chic sends her love,” Allen said with a small chuckle.
“Thanks Allen,” I said smiling at him.
“What are friends for?” he asked not expecting an answer. “Jeremy and I will go home and talk the pub and gift show idea over. That’s what you want isn’t it?”
“You know it is,” I said.
“Tell Wilson I absolutely will not install a Karaoke machine in the bar,” Allen said. He and Jeremy left shortly thereafter. I was left with Mel, Wilson and the TV crew.
“I wanted to thank you for allowing us to film the party. It will be an interesting part of the show,” Lois said.
“Just as long as you stick to our agreement. No faces without permission,” I said. “If you don’t you will get to meet my lawyer Rita. It will not be a pleasant experience I assure you.”
“I know. I also know there is a rumor you deal with mercenaries and drug dealers, so it is understandable,” Lois added.
“If I did, and you didn’t keep your word, you might just disappear. Since that isn’t true you are safe,” I said calmly.
“Good,” Lois said. “Because in the TV business you can’t scare easy. Besides our specialty is to fuck our way to what we want.”
“That might work with Wilson or the Old Men but not me,” I replied.
“You haven’t tried it yet,” she said.
“I doubt that I will ever get that desperate enough to sleep with a TV producer,” I replied.
“What the old saying?” Lois asked then went on to answer. “Any port in a storm.”
Now that left me wondering what Wilson had said to Mel and what she had said to the TV crew.
Edited by Walt