Hi all - here is a non-historical story I am mulling about and would appreciate your comments.
Listen children to a story
That was written long ago…
I had learned to listen to the still quiet voice - the one in my mind that from time to time said no or run, or do that. I had always prospered when I had listened and run into huge problems when I hadn’t. A friend once asked me how I made my decisions. I told her about the still quiet voice. I then got a lecture on how when you talk to God its praying but if you start hearing Him then you are just a little itzy bitsy psychtzy. In other words, according to her, I was certifiable. I distanced myself from that woman. Friends like that you don’t need.
I had married Trevor even though the voice had said not smart but I had been blinded by his good looks, easy boyish charm and his chameleon-like ability to transform himself into whatever it was I needed. I had spent a painful two years learning that his vows meant nothing to him and that my carefully save bank balance meant everything. In the end, I had got free with only our son to show for it and while I would not have traded Zeb for the world, being endowed with some worldly goods would have helped greatly.
I had discovered far too late that my ex had beguiled a mortgage officer at my bank and had so completely bamboozled her that she transferred of my small home into his name. He then mortgaged it to the hilt and took off with the money, my small amount of jewelry, dumping the mortgage officer on his way out of town. I had found this out the morning the Bailiff’s arrived to seize the property. I tried calling Trevor on his cell but it was disconnected. The Sheriff had come round at my call and looked everything over. He agreed that it should not have been able to happen, but that it had happened and there was not much he could do beyond file charges against my ex and the mortgage officer. I had been able to convince the Sheriff and Bailiff to let me get Zeb’s clothes, cot and toys. The Bailiff, by then looking distinctly uncomfortable, had let me take my clothes, family photos and some basic kitchen items. Luckily for me, he didn’t recognize the value of the All-American pressure canner, or the cast iron cookware, or the mangle and washtub. He also looked at me and my son and let me take all the food I could stuff in to my car and home-made trailer. I suspect more because it was all home canned and he knew it would just get thrown out. As he said to the Sheriff, “I hate these evictions and I’ll be damned if that woman had any idea this was on the agenda.” The Sheriff had agreed saying, “She really got taken.”
That afternoon, I walked across the street to another bank and with a letter of introduction and explanation from the Sheriff, a copy of the charges filed, five-years’ worth of pay stubs from my employer, and copies of my bank statement for the past 10 years, they grudgingly allowed me to open an account. However when the next payment date on the mortgage rolled around, the original bank tried to collect and it took the Sheriff to point out that not only had the bank assisted with the theft of my house but they had also then seized it, as the house was no longer in my name or possession, nor had the mortgage been taken out by me, they were not entitled to anything from me.
Single mothers, without familial support, and formerly married to con men were not a good risk. My world became very small, very fast as friends disappeared. But I was too busy to notice until later, but I valued those who stuck around and supported me. The odd pot of soup, a chocolate bar or even flowers and a note stuck in the door, lifted me.
Meantime, I had priorities. I had a son, and we needed a home and fast. So, Priority #2, after sorting out the bank, was to find an apartment. The Bailiff had suggested an apartment building his cousin managed.
The apartment wasn’t much, just a one bedroom on the ground floor of an old building, but beggars can’t be choosers. The sole redeeming features of the apartment were its immediate availability, low price ($900/month inc. heat/hydro/internet), and a small strip of land along a chain-link fence backing onto the railway line that the building manager would allow me to turn into a garden at no additional cost. I spent the spring preparing the ground and then planted, experimenting and learning while saving my pennies.
If I was considered a risky investment, then this building caught between the railway and the highway was equally troubled. Once the H-shaped apartment building had been very grand, just as the area had been, but that was a long time ago. The pretty street had grown into a six lane highway. The once attractive park next door was now home to a camp of transient railway riders. The building’s tenants were a fascinating mix. First were the elderly, mostly single ladies, who had lived there since God had been in short pants. Then there were several recent Eastern European immigrants. There was a large group of messily divorced fathers who had turned the once elegant lobby into a football/ hockey/ basketball/ baseball lounge with a communal big-screen television (only one bill to pay) and beer in a pump keg in the corner. Keeping mostly to themselves were the selection of the recently released – either from jail or mental health facilities; and finally a few families who, like me, had run out of options.
Originally there had been 36 units in the building but all of the fancy apartments had been chopped up. Now there were 72 units. Some were a single room with a shared kitchen and bathroom. My apartment had once been the two children’s bedrooms in a larger unit. Part of the reason that the price was so low was because there were no telephones in the units. Instead one of the old ladies sat at a desk in the lobby and took messages for everyone. Not ideal. As they were mostly deaf and, rarely spoke English as a first language, but like broken telephone you got the gist and they always wrote the numbers down correctly. From my point of view, it was one less bill and you could always reach me on Skype.