By Cindy and Walt
While we worked on getting the houses sold and the Artist Village up and running, I also had a sort of life to live. Summer had brought a new sense of well being to me. I had so many things that needed doing it was hard to know where to start. For one thing I put the trike into the shop.
I thought as I loaded it into the bed of my truck, how could anyone who lived any life at all function without a pick up truck. How the hell would one get a tricycle to the shop without at least a pickup? It was also necessary to haul wood to the Country Store. That thought would have been totally alien to me three years before.
When my pickup began to turn over slowly that morning and made an almost grinding sound, I stopped by the auto parts store in the plaza to have the battery checked. The battery had somehow survived the brutal winter of the mountains only to die in the first days of summer.
I sprung for the full electrical system check as well. The check discovered that the alternator whatever that was didn’t work correctly. The clerk at the parts house took my hundred bucks for the new battery, but he wouldn’t recommend a mechanic. I wasn’t even tempted to call the dealer, since the warranty was out when Mission gave me the truck two years before.
The truck had a 127,000 miles, so it was probably time to buy another one. Even so I decided to continue dragging it around at least for a while longer. The experience with the battery left me a little concerned. After all it might have left me stranded on the road somewhere. Even if it happened at home, I would not like to depend on anyone else for help. It was not a good idea to let people into my highly compartmentalized life.
It turned out that Carlos knew a backyard mechanic. Of course he did. He called the man with an unpronounceable name. The agreement was reached through Carlos, I would go back to the parts house. There I would buy the correct part for the truck, then take it to the mechanics house. I was to do that the next morning. Everyone assured me the alternator would put out enough to keep a new battery up for a couple of days at the very least.
I left Carlos and Juan working on one of the houses that was on the for sale block. At that time we had not sold all the houses on that street. Since the truck break down came shortly after the first festival, there was still a month or more of work in the Village. While they worked I ran errands. I left the truck running everywhere I went. The idea was to put as little drain on the battery as possible and charge it as long as possible.
First I went to the bike shop to leave my trike. “I would like all the bearing greased and the frame inspected carefully for cracks and those tires inspected for wear.”
“Sure Miss Seabold. We can also give it a good cleaning. The grease collects a lot of dirt around the opening.” I agreed to the full check up since the morning racing put a lot of stress on the trike.
I called Luis from the parking lot. I was making some progress with improving my drawings, so he and I were spending a couple of evenings a week together working on my technique. We had begun working out of the studio some of the time. Since I had a drawing table there it was just easier to do pure pen and ink work there. I still did the computer manipulation of the prints at the Country Store.
“Luis, I have car trouble I need to stay home and nurse it tonight,” I said.
“Sorry to hear that, is there anything I can do?” he asked.
“No I have it covered. Carlos knew someone,” I said.
“Very good, then will I see you tomorrow?” he asked.
“Probably not, the mechanic said three hours, but I’m planning on all day tomorrow. I got to go Luis, I’ll call when I get the truck done and we can make a plan,” I informed him.
I drove to the auto parts store and had them check the alternator to find the correct replacement. I trusted the guys who worked at that store. They seemed knowledgeable. I paid over a hundred dollars for the alternator, but I had the box in the truck and felt pretty good about that.
I stopped by the job site for a look at the progress. Just as soon as the houses were finished, it seemed someone wanted to buy it. It was nice to sell them but it put a lot of pressure on Carlos and Juan. To relieve some of it, I had a lot of one trick tradesmen to deal with.
I needed to meet with the painter and check on his schedule for the house we had structurally ready. I also had a delivery of appliances to check on. The appliance delivery was going to require I be present. The purchaser of one of the first house we had sold outright had paid for an appliance upgrade. Since we had only the basic units in it for the open house, we had to swap them out for the upgrade units. Then move the demo unit to one of the houses we were preparing to put on the market.
Before we could trade the appliances in the house, the new house to receive the demo ones had to be painted. It was always something like that, which required the attention of someone, but not a twelve dollar an hour carpenter. Either I could do it, or I could get Luis at five bucks an hour, off his tab to do that kind of thing. I chose to do the painter scheduling on the way home.
I called the warehouse from outside the house where the painter was working. The warehouse gave me a delivery time of 2 PM the next day. When I got inside the house I said, “Martin, I need for you to drop what you are doing and go to the next house you are going to paint. Paint the kitchen this afternoon, then you can return here to finish. I have appliances coming tomorrow and the kitchen hasn’t been painted yet.”
“I’m right in the middle of this can’t you delay the delivery?” he asked.
“Martin, if you want to paint that house at all, you need to get your ass down there now and paint that kitchen,” I said angrily. I did not plan to stand there arguing with a man I was paying to work. He didn’t need to know the explanation about the appliance upgrade. He sure as hell didn’t want those guys putting the appliance in the house he was painting. He would have the demo appliances in his way while he painted.
We usually had one house complete and one with tradesmen working on it at any given time. That was in addition to the one that Carlos and Juan were working on. It took the structural team longer than the tradesmen, but there were the appliances to go in as well. It was a long process that was kind of like staging a ballet. Bringing it all together was my job when I was in town.
“Yes Ma’am,” he said sarcastically.
“So how did it do?” I asked the bike mechanic upon arrival at the shop to pick up my trike.
“These things are tanks,” he said. “I greased everything and adjusted the chain drive.”
“I have been thinking about picking up another one, maybe the six speed model, what do you think?” I asked.
“It would make these hills easier to negotiate for sure,” he said.
“Yeah, I guess I’m not getting any younger,” I said with a laugh. “That leaves me with what to do with this one. I sure as hell am not going to trade it in. Tomorrow I have to take my truck to the shop, so I need some alternate transportation for the next time I lose use of it.”
“You are thinking about turning your trike into a moped?” he asked.
“Actually yes,” I said. “I hear the battery technology is about to evolve.”
“Even the present technology is suitable for a trike,” he admitted. “That is if you have enough money.”
“Nobody ever has enough money,” I said.
“You sure have that right,” he said. You want me to work up some prices for you?”
“Sure but I have the motor running on the truck. I’m afraid to turn it off. Can you give me a call?” I asked.
That’s how we left it for the day. I made it home and planned to stay in, so the truck would start the next morning. I spent the evening drawing from a vector photograph I had taken of a young woman at the bike store. She posed for me willingly. Once the salesman explained that I was not a pervert, just a struggling artist.
So for hours I worked on the vector drawing’s outline. Running it through the computer to wipe out the background and everything except the outline of her features disappeared. The art part was turning that into a pen and ink drawing with a flair.
When bedtime came I just slipped between the sheets and skipped the interaction in my fantasy world. Most nights I indulged myself in fantasy masturbation but not so much lately. It got to be something that I only thought of at 10 PM. Sort of a habit, not an addiction, I thought.
I rode the trike to the plaza for breakfast with Jeremy and Alice. It was a good ride. The trike seemed to do a little better. When I explained about the truck, Jeremy insisted that I call him, if anything changed.
“You might need a ride or even to borrow a car. Alice almost never moves her car,” he said.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I replied.
When I had completed my after breakfast routine, I drove to the house of the backyard mechanic. He was of course Latino. He pulled my truck around his house and into his rear yard. Then his wife came onto the rear deck of the small house. “Senorita would you like coffee while you wait?” she asked.
“I have never turned down a free coffee in my life,” I replied. She did not invite me in, but brought the coffee out to the deck. The coffee was weak and a really cheap blend. I had once used that blend myself, but could only tolerate it after it was a day old. Its saving grace was simply that it was coffee.
“It is complete Senorita,” her husband said.
“It took you three hours, exactly as promised,” I said with a smile. I handed him the hundred dollar bill. He got more than I paid any of my employees on an hourly basis. He had priced the job and Carlos assured me that no matter what happened he would stand by it even if he broke a bolt and had to repair the damage. That being the case I didn’t feel bad.
While I drank coffee on his deck, the bike shop called. “Could you stop by,” the sales man asked. “I have collected the applicable catalogs.”
“Sure I’m having that work done on my truck but I can be there by lunch. Will you be around?” I asked.
“I absolutely will,” he replied. He was all full of himself, like all good salesmen are.
So when I got the truck out of hock, I drove first to the job site to be sure that Carlos did not have any pickups for me to make. Since he didn’t, I drove the truck to the bicycle shop.
“So Tex what you got for me?” I asked.
“Well Ma’am, I did the research and found this trike. Dollar for dollar it is the best one with gears. It has a five star rating by one of the bike magazines and the people who bought it give it five stars as well. Since I can’t get you to bring your trike in for adjustments, you will appreciate that it is very low maintenance. It has a three speed hub. That means there are no exposed gears to worry about. Just the one sprocket like you have now.”
“I like that, so what is the gear ratio compared to the six speed with the derailleur,” I asked.
The low is like a kid’s bike, the middle is like your trike now. The high would be like the highest gear on the six speed cluster. You just wont have the in between gears,” he informed me.
“So how much,” I asked.
“$725 assembled and ready for pickup.”
“That’s twice what I paid for the one I have now. I think I will just keep what I have,” I said. So I left the bike shop with Tex a lot less enthusiastic. It wasn’t Tex’s money, so I didn’t feel all that bad for him.
The rest of the day I handled problems at the job site. It always seemed that no matter how much things were in doubt, they always worked out as they should in the end.
I was still juggling the studio time. I saw signs that Jeremy wasn’t using his cabin often but that was up to him. I had been paid so it was none of my business. It was the last week in June when Jeremy came to me at the Village job site. “Rose can you spare me a few minutes. I would like to talk about the second cabin on the church site.”
“You do know I’m using that cabin,” I suggested.
“I know but I have a couple of friends who want a place just like mine. They like that it’s a cabin with no neighbors but still on a paved state maintained road,” he explained. “You can set up a drawing studio anywhere.”
“So what are they willing to pay,” I asked.
“I can get you $75,000. Surely you can use the money,” Jeremy said.
“Everyone could use that kind of money. Tell you what tell your girlfriend the price is 80K,” I said.
“She isn’t my girl friend, but she and her friends do want to meet people there,” Jeremy said.
“Does Alice know about this?” I asked.
“She knows about this one she still doesn’t know about the first one, so don’t let it slip please,” he demanded. I just nodded.
“There is one thing. There is a stray dog up there one of you has to feed,” I said.
“I know and I’ll keep an eye out for him,” Jeremy said.
I had continued to think about the alternate vehicle. One I could use if the truck went into the shop again. If I bought one of some kind it had to meet some basic requirements. First and foremost the son of a dog had to be stable. I had learned my lesson about two wheelers that tip and spin out on small ice patches which the trike negotiated with ease. It also had to fit in the back of a pickup truck and be reasonably easy to load. I knew the motor and batteries were going to be expensive. Those I could justify, but a trike to use a few times a year maybe. There was no way I was going to pay half a grand for it. I also wasn’t going to screw up my trike which I rode everyday.
So I started to check the DIY sites for something I could have built locally. It took five hours to find something the designer called a stability trailer. It really didn’t look that hard to build, but the bike shop wouldn’t do it because they were salesmen and repairmen not builders. I planned to ask Carlos for the name of someone who worked in metal. In the meantime I downloaded the drawings and materials list. I also checked for my girlie 24″ bike. I know it was the one that put my ass in the hospital, but it was handy.
Once I was satisfied that I had everything in place to hand over to the trailer builder, I looked around the net for a motor. I found out quickly that I needed a lot of information before I decided on a motor. It was going to be back to research 101 for a while. I couldn’t do anymore that night because I was exhausted.
The next morning I was up and out the door before the Bobbsey twins arrived. I was waiting on them at the end of the driveway. I had been able to get moving earlier since the fire management in the house really hadn’t been necessary for some time.
We raced to the restaurant as usual but in those summer days we had decided to take turns paying and acting as a waitress. “So what have you been up to,” Alice asked while we waited for Jeremy.
“Oh I just got the trike serviced and the truck worked on yesterday. I’m going to hang around the Village today. Someone has to keep an eye on the painters and the flooring guy,” I said.
“Aren’t you about finished,” Jeremy asked.
“We got about another month or more of work I think. Phase two will end in July I think then we just have to decide what is next up there,” I replied.
Since the money had started to come in, I was feeling better about that project. We were approaching the break even point for the purchase of the project and the cost of the labor up to that day. From that point on the profit from each house would go into the bank. Not to mention I owned ten rental house and a big undeveloped tract.
Not only was I juggling the supervision of the contract labor, running errands for Carlos, and taking lessons from Luis, I was also being pestered to sponsor and organize the second festival. Since the units had rented and the sales were more than I could hope to have at that point, I didn’t feel the need to put on a festival, but the artist who lived in the village were hot to have a sales event.
I had a meeting with the Foothills Art Council set for the afternoon. So when I got to the Village I checked in on the contractors and answered a couple of questions. Then I talked to Carlos and got a name.
I arranged to meet the metal worker before I went to the Arts Council. I gave him the plans and the bike that had tossed me on my ass to use for the basic platform. After the metal shop owner read it over he said, “You are going to need another set of bicycle wheels. Why not go to the flea market this weekend and buy a bicycle you should be able to find one there from which you can rescue the wheels. Bring me those and I’ll begin work on it. It shouldn’t take long.”
“That sounds good. So I shall see you on Monday with two wheels. If I can’t get them at the flea market on Saturday, I will hit the pawn shops. What size wheels would be best?” I asked.
“Either 20″ or 24″ will work for this project. Right now I don’t have a lot going on so I should be able to finish the same day you bring the wheels, if it is early enough in the day,” he admitted.
Well I’ll get on it first thing Saturday,” I suggested then left the old run down service station which he used as his welding shop.
I went from the metal shop to the Foothills Arts Council. I met with Abigale Hart. “Please call me Abi,” she demanded yet again. I had met her when I sponsored the first festival.
“So Abigale Hart, why is it you want to see me?” I asked.
“I was hoping we could work together on a second festival. The feedback from the community was very good. We would like to co-sponsor the next one,” she said.
“Well I promised people we would have a July 4th festival, so what can you bring to the table this late in the game?” I asked.
“We are prepared to promote the festival on our website, in our newsletter to members and on the state cable news channel,” Abigale said.
“I appreciate it but we are filled with exhibitors,” I informed her almost gleefully.
“Well we could probably draw in some out of town visitors with the advertising,” she suggested.
“Sure free advertising is good,” I said.
“Great then I can sign you up?” she asked.
“So the advertising isn’t free after all,” I said with a smile. I had pretty much expected the catch. What really bothered me was the gigantic waste of my time. “How about you do your thing because you want to promote the Arts in the Foothills community.”
“The Arts Council is really all about supporting our members. If you were a member, you would have access to all our services,” she said.
“I think I understand. I also think I’m going to have to let that pass, but I do want to thank you for your concern,” I explained.
I drove back to the job site for one last look around. We were still working on phase two houses and had at least three more weeks to go. Probably longer if things didn’t go perfect. Things went perfectly very seldom in my operations.
I spent my time for the next couple of days and night salting the web. I planted information on lots of website explaining that the Village Festival Two was in the works. I sent email invitations to those vendors who showed up at the last festival. I also sent some personal invitations to people who were recommended by the vendors at the last festival. I sent invitation to three food trucks. I explained that I didn’t expect a high volume, so it might or might not be profitable. I knew that the nature of the business was to gamble, so I expected one or maybe two trucks.
Between keeping up with the contractors and promoting the site, I didn’t have a lot of time for drawing. The promotion was going to last for the next ten days and the supervision of the contractors was going to last most of the month of July for sure. I knew I had to find time to squeeze Luis’s lessons in somehow.
“When Saturday came, after breakfast I swung by the site for a few minutes. I determined that Carlos and Juan were working, but no one else. Except there was a strange car that pulled into the drive at Luis’s house. The man and woman who walked toward the door both had exposed tattoos. It looked as thought Luis had a customer or two now and then. It also reminded me that I had never seen Alice’s tattoo. I tried to hold on to the thought, so that I could ask her the next time we were alone. I wanted to see how Luis had done with the ‘Swamp Dog’ tattoo.
I had a date with the flea market. The market was billed as a regional yard sale. It looked pretty busy in the old convenience store parking lot. There actually were three rundown stores side by side. The parking lots and the stores were filled with yard sale people. It was obvious that the people just rented spaces.
I walked through two of the three stores and found nothing. I saved the store that seemed to have larger items for last. I spotted the small horrid pink bicycle, when I was no more than three feet inside. The twenty inch bike with the white tires really made me want to puke, but it was the only game in town.
“Wow that has to be the ugliest bike I have ever seen,” I said.
“Gee thanks it was my daughter’s until she outgrew it,” the man minding the spot said.
“I am looking for a bike that size but I would have to do a lot cosmetically to it,” I said.
“Well that’s up to you,” the man said.
“I usually buy bikes at yard sales and thrift stores. So what you want for it?” I asked.
“Thirty dollars,” he said.
“I was thinking I could pay twenty and then paint it,” I said.
“Twenty five and you can ride it home,” the man commented. I gave him cash then pushed the bike to my truck. Along the way I spotted a metal bed frame. I drove directly to the welding shop. I found the owner finishing up some of his week’s work.
“Here, I want to leave this with you. Call me when it looks like the one in the picture,” I demanded then left.
I drove right by my house on the way to Jeremy and Alice‘s house. I intended to ask about the tattoo, if I could get her alone. The information might not be for Jeremy’s ears, since I was pretty sure she had posed nude for Luis.