“So, what did Tim do in the kitchen?” Bryan asked as they looked around the little house. “Was there a lot of mold?”
“No, thank goodness,” was Sandy’s sincere response. “That he took care of with cleanser. But he had to shore up the support beams, replace some of the flooring and all of the linoleum,” she said, pointing to the floor beneath the refrigerator. “There’s six thousand dollars they’ll never recoup. This house has been neglected. I hope whoever buys it shows it some love.”
“Hmm. So how much is this place?”
“They’re asking ninety nine but I think they’re dreaming. Sellers usually are. They looked at comps and found similar houses that sold for one fifteen. Except they’re really not that similar. This place has carpeting in the bathrooms! Can you imagine? With little boys? Yuck! Just because two houses are on the same street and are similar footage and floor plans that doesn’t make them comps.”
“What’s a comp? Obviously not something that’s free,” he asked.
“Comparable. Houses that sold recently, have similar floor plans and are geographically close to one another are a good indicator of market value. The problem is most people see the ‘charm’ of their homes and neglect the rotten floorboards, ugly wallpaper and urine stained carpets. Comp my ass,” she muttered.
“Are there good houses for a hundred thousand?”
“Depends on what you want. New, preowned, single family, condo, how many bedrooms, ready to move in or a fixer upper. Different people want different things.”
“How long does it take to buy a house? Can I really move in by June first?”
“Yes. And you could win the lottery. Highly unlikely, but I already thought of that. If we don’t have you in your new home before June you can use my two front bedrooms. That’s certainly not a service I normally provide!” she said with a laugh.
“Where will I put my stuff? And, well, wow! Thanks. How much will you nip me for?”
“We’re still talking housing, right?” she asked with a wink. “Hmm. Good question. I guess it depends on length of stay. I mean, you’re welcome to use my place for transition but I don’t want us living together. I mean, that would be crazy! I haven’t even known you a week yet!”
“That’s the crazy part. I really can’t believe it. Well, how about four hundred a month?”
“For one room? Sounds steep. How about two hundred?”
“Isn’t this negotiation supposed to go the other way? But what I meant was total. No utilities, just four hundred a month. Does that sound fair?”
“Still way too generous but I guess so. But let’s break it down. Thirteen dollars a day. Like I said, this is just transition, not moving in. Thirteen a day and I reserve the right to give you say the first two weeks free. Deal?”
“Ha! You strike a hard bargain! If I hold out will you pay me to live with you?”
“Let’s not use that expression. Really. I do love you but some things are just too crazy. Housemates after June first and you start paying rent on the fourteenth. Sound good?”
“No. It sounds ridiculous. In my favor. But yes, please. And thank you. Except not rent free if it is obvious up front that I’ll be there more than two weeks, okay? I want you incentivized to find me some digs.”
“You’re right. This is so backwards! I’m incentivized to get you a house by charging you rent! Okay, if it’s obvious that we haven’t got a firm move in date on June first you pay rent from day one. Thirteen a day; you can pay me when it’s convenient, weekly, biweekly or monthly. I will write it up so we both know what we just agreed to, okay?”
“Fantastic. I am excited. It’s as though on Easter Sunday the world realized I’ve been neglected and now it’s trying to make up for past offense. Resurrected, so to speak.”
“So to speak. Sounds more like Karma. Are you Catholic or Buddhist? Either way I’m just glad that you see things that way. I can’t tell you the last time I woke up looking forward to what the world was going to send my way. Certainly not since George died. I credit you, sweetie,” she said, kissing him. “What do you say we swing by my place and I can show you what you just leased?”
“Yeah. So do you have any houses in mind for me?”
“Not really. I couldn’t help but check Best of Iowa’s listings but since we haven’t discussed your preferences or how far from work you’re willing to live I didn’t know where to start. Plus I didn’t know about your huge stash of IRA money.”
Bryan loaded big blue on the Thule rack while Sandy locked the front door of the house and then unlocked her car using the key fob’s remote control. He waited by her car door and opened it before entering. “Always a gentleman,” she said with a quick buss. “I really like that about you.”
“Mom was a manners freak. Bugged me when I was teenager- nobody else had to be polite all the time! –but once I hit my senior year I saw just how much it smooths things over. Made panhandling a lot easier, I can tell you that.”
“I still can’t imagine you doing that,” she responded, moving her garage door remote to the glove compartment and checking her mirror before pulling away from the curb. “It just seems so, barbaric.”
“Life should be a challenge. And fun! It was, until Florida.”
They retraced in reverse the route they had taken Tuesday morning. Sandy visibly grimaced as she drove by the place where Roger Quane had been impaled by the rebar. “Hey! Did I tell you I got a thank you note from Lois and Dave Quane? Roger’s parents? They can’t thank us enough for what we did.”
“No. That’s great. I guess I should check my mail box, I usually only get ads. Most of my bills are on line. That’s nice. I’m super glad we could help.”
“Yeah. Me, too. But I’d prefer not to do it again any time soon.”
“Amen to that, sister!”
Sandy backed into her driveway and switched her car off. Bryan pulled big blue off the bike rack as Sandy unlocked the side door that allowed access to the garage and then held it open for Bryan to roll the bike through. Once inside she thumbed the lock again and then unlocked the door that led to the basement. “So, if you come over at a time when you figure I’ll be asleep you can get in that way without disturbing me. I like my beauty sleep! The exterior light is motion detector activated so getting in should be easy. There’s room to roll a bike in front of the Outback without scratching it but please be careful. She’s still the most expensive vehicle I’ve ever owned!”
Ninja greeted them as they entered and Sandy checked to make sure the cat had water and then they both gave the black cat some sought after affection. “Well, Ninja we’re going upstairs. You’re welcome to join us!” at which the cat actually led the way up.
“So, the only part of the house you haven’t seen are these two front rooms,” she said to Bryan. “I’m parched, want some water?”
“Please,” he replied.
“I’ll grab it. Go ahead and check out the rooms. You’re welcome to both of them, the back one is really empty!” She walked to the kitchen and then returned with two tall glasses of water. “With these two rooms and the second garage stall we should be able to get everything in here no problem, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, I would say so. This room is at least as big as mine and we can squeeze my living room furniture in here and then leave the hutch and dining room table in the garage. I’ll just leave my dishes in boxes and that should work great. Thanks again, by the way. For everything, but especially for opening my eyes to getting out of my apartment. I’m looking forward to it.”
“Yes, me too! House hunting is fun and now that we have our contingency plan we’re not under any real time constraints. So, this will work, right?”
“Gotta’ say yes. Absolutely. I’m psyched!”
“Me too. Hey, did you want to get out of those clothes?” she asked. Bryan’s eyebrows shot up and Sandy added, “And into some of George’s old ones? My, Lord! You never quit, do you?”
“Could be worse. I could be a cold fish,” he replied.
“Fat chance! There’s a closet full of clothes in the front room. Why don’t you see what fits and then put on something. Shoes too. Those cycling ones are a hassle. You’re welcome to borrow George’s stuff but you should bring your own shoes over. It’s not a great idea to borrow those, they get broken in to one person’s foot impression and gait and then it’s not a best practice to wear them.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that. So, what do you have in mind for the rest of the day?”
“Something mundane. Movie and dinner?”
“With you nothing is mundane,” he answered with a smile. “Let me get changed.”