By Cindy and Walt
During the rest of that week and on into the weekend my plans for the Mill Village changed daily. That was not a bad thing, because it let me research various scenarios and possibilities for the property.
During those same days, I didn’t sit home tied to the computer doing research. I raced my trike with the Bobbsy Twins, and I completed furnishing my cabin. I also completed the sale of the cabin and building supplies to Jeremy. We mutually decided that I would retake possession of the trailer. After all I was going back into the building business. Also I already had a really nice trailer hitch on the truck. So his check into my white funds was 59k. Just a tad more than the purchase price of the Mill Village property.
On Saturday Janice Wetherly Allen called. “Miss Seabold, we have a problem,” she said.
“I see. So what exactly is your problem?” I asked.
“Would you rather talk about this in person? My sister and I would,” she said.
“To be honest with you Janice whatever you tell me, I’m going to need some time to digest it. Why don’t you just spit it out and I’ll figure out the impact on my plans and then get back with you?” I offered.
“I guess that would be okay with my sister,” she said.
“It’s going to have to be or you take your property and go to all those other buyers you have waiting for me to turn it down,” I said not quite angry, but definitely sarcastic.
“Alright, the land was used as security for a loan. Frankly they will not allow us to subdivide the property,” she informed me.
“So you owe back taxes of at least 12k and the loan has to be paid off to free the deed?” I asked.
“That is correct,” she replied.
“And the forty odd thousand isn’t enough to do both?” I asked.
“No, the only reason we are trying to sell the land is to avoid defaulting on the loan or a tax foreclosure of my dad’s property. He would frankly roll over in his grave if we did that,” she stated.
“Not to mention it would fuck up your credit for several years,” I said. “So how much would it take to get you out from under the cloud?”
“Around 65k but we won’t sell it just to pay off the estate,” she said. “My sister is adamant that we have to walk away with something.”
And I’m adamant. I want just the parcel of land from the village. I don’t want the plant. So I am not paying off your debt totally without getting value for my money. If you want to get out from under, I’ll buy it all for what the pay off on the loan is and the taxes.
“Make us an offer with something left please,” she said.
“I see. I’m going to need some time to see where the tipping point is,” I suggested. “I’m not going to just bail you out.”
“Of course not, We couldn’t expect that,” she said almost angrily herself.
“Well thanks for the call, it gives me something to work on during the weekend. I don’t suppose you would object to me and my foreman doing a walk through of the property?” I asked.
“No, not at all,” she said.
I looked up at the large antique advertising clock and found it just about lunch time. I took a chance and dialed Carlos’ number. I didn’t dare call the home number, so I left a message. “Carlos give me a call. We need to walk that property in Roaring Gap. They came back with a counter offer for me.”
I spoke with Luis just a little later. He was trying to con me into a conference that afternoon. He wanted to go somewhere, I thought. Since we hadn’t met in a while, and I had nothing else to do, I agreed.
I made the half hour drive to College Hill. It was more like and hour by the time I counted the drive to the interstate, and the drive from the interstate to his apartment building. That drive was shit, but I didn’t really hate it.
“So Rosy, how you doing?” he asked.
“I’m doing fine Luis how about you?” I asked.
“Okay, but it is getting harder to live on my Social Security. I cheated so much on my taxes when I was working, so I only get the minimum amount. That just ain’t enough to live, even with the cheap housing,” he said. “I would love to start tattooing again, but I can‘t find a shop willing to have me.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“They think I am too old,” he said. “Plus I got all these prison tats.”
“Yeah, the thing we do when young, do tend to come around to haunt us later,” I said.
“What you know about being old, you white bread bitch,” he snapped.
“Easy there Poncho,” I said laughing at him.
“Yeah, I’m sorry,” he said. “I just did a tat for a girl under eighteen last week and the parents complained. The housing authority might ask me to leave, and I got nowhere else to go.”
“Did you know she was under eighteen?” I asked.
“The gang banger who brought her to me didn’t volunteer, and I didn’t ask,” Luis replied. “He wanted a playing card tattooed on her ass.”
“Let me guess a black and gray queen of spades,” I suggested.
“You seen that before?” he asked. I nodded. “Maybe you ain’t so white bread after all.”
“So tell me what you expect from me?” I asked.
“I don’t know what anyone can do. My kid she hardly has enough resources to take care of her kids. I can’t live with her,” he said.
“Actually it might help both of you to live together. Two incomes could help you both out,” I suggested.
“She don ‘t want me around, and frankly I can stand her boyfriends. We get along better, if there is space between us,” he said.
“How about your grand kids?” I asked.
“Them I like to see, but I don’t drive anymore. Maria she doesn’t have a car. Her boyfriend at the moment won’t bring her to visit,” he said.
“Well let me know when they schedule the hearing with the housing authority. I will try to come by and be a witness as to your sterling character,” I said.
We stopped at the Walmart store where I waited a half hour for him. I was tempted to pay for his groceries, but decided not to diminish his self esteem. I drove him home after I picked up a pizza. I invited myself to his apartment to share the cheese pizza.
“You really don’t want to visit my apartment,” Luis said.
“I want my pizza, and I want to see what you have on your walls,” I said.
“You will be sorry. I live alone, so it is a mess,” he said.
“You have never seen my place,” I said. When he opened the door, I could smell Cinnamon and flowers. Obviously he used those air fresheners liberally. That smell was better than the odor of dirty socks, which is an old man living alone smell. I have no idea where that image came from, but it was the one I had.
“You started me doing pen and ink drawings to help you and I discovered I enjoyed creating them,” he said pointing to the half dozen drawing thumb tacked to the wall of his one large room.
The apartment was a studio apartment for sure. On one wall there was a kitchen, another was a living room and bedroom space, and a third was a bathroom and closet. One wall held the door leading to the outside. It was a fucking people warehouse. It was also depressing.
Luis had virtually no furniture. There was only one straight chair and there was a TV tray complete with the laptop computer pulled close to the bed. I sat in the chair to eat my pizza and drink the coke. It was either that or let Luis brag that he got me into his bed.
“You like living here?” I asked.
“Better than the homeless shelter, which may be my next address,” he said.
“Okay stall, stay here as long as you can. Maybe they won’t toss you out on your old ass,” I said. “Either way run out the clock. If nothing else comes along, maybe I can help some. But Luis, there are no free lunches. You will have to work for everything you get from me.”
“Senorita Rose, I began work when I was twelve. It wasn’t always legal, but I always worked,” he explained.
“I hope what you do for me is going to always be legal, but I can make no promises. I can only promise you can say no to anything,” I said.
“That is fair. If I get closer to you, then we can draw together. Maybe one of us be a famous artist,” he said.
“I can damn sure tell you that it won’t be me,” I said.
Back in Farmer’s Grove, I tried to decide about the property I was looking to buy. I didn’t want to make a decision without giving Carlos a chance to walk me through the houses. I sat at home checking out things on the Internet when a car light turned into the drive. Since I wasn’t expecting anyone I went to the door with the shotgun at the ready. The man in fatigues stepped from the black SUV.
“Rose Seabold?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“I have a package for you from a Sylvia Porter. Could I see some ID please?” he asked.
“Sure,” I showed the phony driver’s license with the Seabold name on it. He nodded and handed me the cardboard box with crap load of tape on it. When he turned to leave, I noticed that he had a rather large lump on his lower back. It looked to be the kind of lump a heavy automatic pistol would make when carried in the waistband of his fatigues. I did not make any comment, since I had a pump shotgun within easy reach.
I opened the box from Porter and found ten bundles of ten thousand dollars each and a note. Here is your finder’s fee for the blood diamonds. Live well and practice what you have learned.
Since no one at Church Camp or the Swamp wanted to pay tax, we all understood that the Government was not our friend. Government was a necessary evil.
“Hello Carlos,” I said into the phone an hour, or so after I hid the money in the grease pit.
“Hello Senorita Rose, you wanted to go over the village?” he asked.
“Yes, I need a plan of attack before I buy the damn thing,” I suggested. “You can give me an idea of what to expect.”
“Si Senorita, would you like to do it tomorrow?” he asked.
“Tomorrow would be fine,” I replied. “I know you do family things on Sunday, so just call me when you have a couple of hours free.
I read some headline news before I went to bed. For the last few weeks I had been spending a lot of time in bed. I also seemed to be tired all the time. Joan and Jose were present in my dreams again. I sat in a big chair and watched Joan give Jose a first class blowjob. It was really depressing. I couldn’t help but think of John while I watched. I have absolutely no idea what it was about the two of them that reminded me of John, but I guess something did.
When I awoke at 6 AM, I felt like I had been asleep only a few minutes. I hated how I felt, even though the towel I carried to bed was soaked.
The trike ride that Sunday morning was just me. Jeremy and Alice were sleeping in. They were most likely hung over, and naked.
I rode slowly to the Hardee’s at the plaza. There I found the SMP officers having their before shift breakfast. I knew that because they left shortly after I arrived at 6:30 AM. They either left at 6:30 for work or were just arriving at 7:30 for their after shift breakfast.
Watching the very strong looking officer gave me a tingle between my legs. I did know that the reaction was more to their bodies, than the uniform. It was my experience cops were to be avoided at all times. Especially times when I might not be thinking clearly.
That thought somehow led me to wonder if I would feel better, if I allowed the killer to beat the shit out of me. Andrew had suggested it and I had thought about it off an on ever since. The ribs had stopped hurting, but I was sure they would still be susceptible to more damage. I was also sure that would be the case with the collar bone repair patch as well.
I almost placed a call to schedule a workout. I didn’t keep alive by being stronger or a better street fighter, I stayed alive by not getting in a position where I would be forced to fight. If I wanted to confront anyone, I thought it through five or six times. I always looked for and often found an alternate way to obtain the results I wanted.
I had broken that rule with Jose and it might have cost him his life. He might have decided to show me how macho he was. In doing so he might have done something stupid. Something that got Joan as well as himself killed. That thought had never entered my conscious mind before. Maybe it explained the dreams.
Then again I had followed the rules, I had confronted him only when sure I had the upper hand. I had done it in a place where I knew the location of weapons and he didn’t. So I had the upper hand and I came away unharmed. The two of them were not so fortunate.
I knew it wasn’t my fault. They most likely got too confident and made a mistake. What kind of mistake I might never know. A kid who sent pictures on cell phones might have sent a picture of his penis to her. All men think their penis is sacred, and their woman lives to worship it. What crap, I thought with a silent laugh. Maybe if I found out what they did, Joan would leave me alone.
I managed to try piecing it all together and came up with one conclusion. I was never going to figure out what their mistake was. The two cell phones might hold the answer, but they were evidence and that was that. Best to close the files and move on.
Close the files, of course, the kid might also have sent the picture to her laptop, or she could have saved the picture to it. Her husband would have no reason to check it for pictures, so she might feel safe to do that. Only paranoid people would keep several laptops and tablets. So that each was secure and source specific. In other words Joan might have had the pictures on her personal laptop filed under the title Jose’s prick for all I knew. Her husband might have stumbled onto them and snapped.
I had been watching a TV show off and on while I worked out the sequence of events. In the end I decided that Joan had done herself in with her carelessness. It was me who introduced them, but the blame rested with her stupid ass.
It was 2 PM when Carlos called. He was ready to meet me at the village site. We made the plan for three. It would give us two hours before dark to look around and assess the buildings.
As usual I skipped lunch so I just wasted most of an hour doing nothing at all. When I got to the village, I still had to wait fifteen minutes for Carlos. It just wasn’t like him to be more than five minutes late. Usually he was early by that same five minutes at least.
“I was about to go looking for you,” I said.
“I had a little trouble getting away from home,” Carlos said. I knew better than to ask about it.
“So what happened with you and Jeremy?” I asked instead.
“He didn’t tell you?” Carlos asked.
“Just that you quit,” I suggested.
“He made it impossible for me to work for him. First of all he sent Juan home early several days. He told me to show up only to find there were no logs to use. So I told him, if he couldn’t keep me working he could at least let me go look for other work. He should not have me show up and waste the day,” Carlos said. “Then he told me, if I couldn’t work that way I should just find somewhere else to work period.”
“That just doesn’t sound like Jeremy,” I said.
“It wasn’t Senor Jeremy it was his Project Manager. Senor Jeremy had hired him to run things while he was out of town,” Carlos said.
“Ah I see. Well let’s see if I can avoid pissing you off,” I said. Carlos just smiled.
“First of all the best of the houses are the five that are rented,” he said.
“Those aren’t rented they are squatters,” I informed him. “This place produces no income whatsoever.”
“Then those houses are probably in pretty bad shape as well,” He said.
“So let’s go take a look at the empty ones first. Just tell me if the house can be rescued cheaper then demolishing them and then building something to replace them,” I suggested.
The first house was typical of what we found. The roof had leaked long enough to ruin most of the floor but the roof hadn’t collapsed yet. Only three had collapsed completely.
“We could probably rescue all but ten of them, but it would be expensive,” Carlos said.
“Okay what if we demolished twenty five and used the materials to patch the others together,” I suggested. “They are too close together anyway.”
“We might be able to salvage enough material to do the structural repairs, but we can’t do much about the interiors using the materials we find in the old houses.” Nothing in the first house would pass code. The interior finish had pretty much been turned to trash by exposure to rain and snow. The windows were broken and pretty much useless. For the most part they were not worth salvaging.
Most of the exterior siding was good and the frame of the house was also good. The exterior walls needed patching but that was a minor repair. The interior needed all new finishes and the appliances were gone. The plumbing fixtures were mostly still in the houses. On closer inspection it was the window glass that was missing. That might not be too bad to repair.
“So we can build about twenty to twenty five units on this property. I don’t know if I will sell them, or rent them so lets keep the building cost down as much as possible. Hell I have to buy the land first, then we have to rebuild the houses. I figure they are all pretty much the same, so I guess we don’t need to look at every one of them. Some may be worse but most likely none would be any better. Let’s take a look at the block building with no roof,” I suggested.
“I think we can do something with this,” Carlos said as he stepped inside the block building about the size of my Country Store. Of course there was no grease pit. It also needed a lot more work than the Country Store had needed.
“Well it is going to take a lot. We need to take down a couple of the worst houses to get material for this place,” I suggested.
“Then you plan to buy it. If you do I think we will have most of the material to repair the houses. You will need to buy roofing material and plumbing supplies at least,” he replied.
“If I can get the property at the right price, I’m ready to move on it. I’ll give her a call tomorrow and make a new offer.” Expect to hear from me in the next day or so,” I suggested. I wanted him to be prepared just in case I could get things settled quickly.
When I got home, it was about eight. I did some checking for places in either College Hill or Roaring Gap, where I could buy large numbers of appliance and plumbing fixtures at a decent price. I had a place in mind, but first thing I had to do was get the land at a decent price.
I went to bed at 11 PM about the same time I had been going to bed lately. Lately being since Joan and Jose began sharing my dreams, if not my bed. Sometime during the night, I began to dream again. Maybe it was because the blame game was fresh in my mind, or maybe it was just because I was getting bored with ghost sex, either way I confronted Joan.
“Look Joan just because you were a stupid bitch and caused your own death and Jose’s, don’t come around here trying to make me feel bad. I know the game you are playing, but I’m not interested in playing. Somehow you think that if I screw him in my dreams, it means you weren’t the only one who took chances. Well it ain’t happening. I told you that you were an idiot, when you were alive,” I said.
“Capital punishment for adultery is a bit severe,” she said.
“I admit that, but you are the one who married a man capable of killing. The family will never forgive you, but they might forgive me in time. Especially if I continue to maintain my innocence,” I replied.
“So you are never going to take any responsibility for what happened to me?” she asked.
“Your husband might have kill us both for what we did, but there was no way for him to find out. At least not from anything I did. I didn’t send you gushy email or nude pictures,” I said.
“So you are proud of the fact that you know how to hide an affair?” she asked.
“Yeah pretty much, now I think our time living and dead is over. Don’t bother to come back,” I said banishing her into the night.
I walked into Hardee’s breathing hard. I was even a little wobbly as I passed the SMP officers. They were sitting at a table over a large meal. They had to be finished with their shift, since it was a full meal in front of them and they did not appear to be in any hurry.
“So I hear you and Carlos were out looking at the old mill village,” Jeremy said.
“We were but how did you know?” I asked.
“I took a look at rehabbing the place a few months ago, but it was too far gone. Even when I got through it, the place would still be less than hugely profitable,” he said. “Even so one of the sisters called to see if I would like to put in a big offer.”
“You are absolutely right. I’m going to make a low ball offer and hope she turns me down,” I lied.
“So you are going to bring Carlos back into the fold,” Alice asked. “I hope so, I rather liked him.”
“I for one wouldn’t have the place, if she gave it to me,” Jeremy said. “As for Carlos, I’m not sure that he is reliable,” Jeremy said.
“I’m not sure any of us are reliable, but I sure hope you and Alice are,” I said with a smile.
“I think I speak for Alice when I say we feel exactly the same about you,” he said.
“Does he always speak for you,” I asked Alice.
“Often but not always,” she replied,