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The sun streamed in the large windows, flooding the living room with a warm, dust filled light. The older man sat in this favorite chair, with tears running down his worn face. He quietly sobbed. They would be there soon and his son would pick him up before they would arrive. The yellow, brown and green cross-stitching of his favorite chair had worn and frayed through over the years. He sat waiting, hoping his son would not arrive. This is his house. But he knew this fight was in vain. This is the fight that his son and daughter have had with him multiple times over the years. At first, he was able to dissuade them by saying that he could take care of a house that large at his age. His age had caught up to him and over taken his side of the argument. But he still fought that fight every time.
“I will loose everything” he told himself.
The older man turned to look at the front door, watching the overcast day through the front door. He turned back feel the warm glow of the sun on his face. For a moment, he shut his eyes, and enjoyed the warmth.
There was a knock on the door.
A middle aged man walked in the front door, allowing the sunlight to fill the entry way, just before he shut the front door.
“Dad, are you ready?” He said to the older man, with guilt in his voice.
“Do I have a choice?” The older man said, knowing that he did not.
“I am sorry….” The son said, not wanting have the fight again. He held out his hand to help his dad to his feet. He grabbed his Dad’s coat and cane as the older man held on to his arm for support. The older man did not look his son in the eyes.
The son opened the front door for his dad and held it open for him as he hobbled through. He securely shut the front door, allowing the realtors key safe to thud on the thick, wooden door.
The older man put his coat on as the son waited for him at the bottom of the stairs. The older man was deliberate, but unsteady in his walk. The son knew that he was making the right decision getting him out of this house. The old man finally got to the car and the son helped him into it.
The son reached onto the dashboard and put on his sunglasses.
“Dad, it’s a beautiful day to be outside….” the son said as he rolled down the windows of the car, allowing the cloudless sunny day to air his car out.
“We have a new listing that may get you guys excited!” said Erica, with a hint of her own excitement spilling over.
“It is a 100 year old house with a huge garage, 2 story, with a basement….
“But is it like the rest of the 100 year old houses we have seen, looks great from the outside, but the inside another story!” asked Sharon.
Sharon Davis had been looking for houses like this since she was a little girl. Fast forward 20 years and she is a new Department Head at the local College. In those 20 years a lot had happened; Graduated High school, got the hell out of town, got her Undergrad, found a guy, married him, had a couple of kids, got a couple of Master degrees and now she is back to raise her kids.
“Not this one. This one’s right up your alley! It looks great on the outside, and the inside looks pretty good as well.”
“Pictures can be deceiving, you know.” Trevor said snidely “Looks like a lot of work to me….”
“Just ignore him, he is pretty much along for the ride unless he were to ‘contribute’ something to this family….”
Erica, able to see and almost taste the tension between her 2 new clients, tried to quickly put the focus back on what Sharon liked most about the house. “…and in the backyard, there is hot tub, and it is secluded as well….”
“That doesn’t sound too bad, but I’ll never get to use the damn thing cuz’ i will be working on that house….” Trevor thought to himself. Trevor sat in the backseat of their Realtors car, as they went from house to house, looking at possible places for them to live and for him to fix up and sell again whenever the time came. Sitting there , in a cramped backseat with another sheet of paper in his hand with a house on it, hoping beyond hope that this would be the house.
When Erica pulled up in the drive way of a classic Doll House, Trevor smiled. He quickly caught himself and turned it around, hoping that she did not see it.
The women were out of the car, not worrying about the usual niceties of showing the house as a group. Erica was already 2 or 3 rooms into her tour when Trevor makes his way in the front door. “Everything about this house is big and old.” sighed Trevor. Off in the distance he can hear Erica and his wife talking in excited tones about hardwood floors and what room will become what room with the family.
“Everything about this house is big and old. It smells like old people… Who would want to live here…” Trev kept muttering to himself to himself since he needed someone to talk to that was of his same mindset. As he walked out the front door to see what the foundation looked like from the outside, he caught a chill. It was a Saturday afternoon in October. The Indian Summer was in full swing. He headed to the realtors car to grab his jacket, but stopped halfway, thinking it was a little warm for a jacket. He walked around the outside of the house, doing the “manly” thing, checking the foundation for cracks…and avoiding those two. But mostly it was a great chance to be alone…too bad it would not last.
The foundation looked great. The previous owners had done a really good job making the little repairs to the house as they became necessary over the years. After walking around the house and hoping he had wasted enough time, he trudged back up the front steps and into the front door. As he walked in the door, Sharon and Erica were walking down the stairs after the tour of the upstairs Bedrooms. Her eyes met his with a decision already made. And he knew that look. He sighed. Erica knew what that sigh meant.
After some small talk about how great the house is and what a great neighborhood it was and how close it was to downtown and all the other details that would make it seem like the decision had not been made yet, they decided to call it a day. He opened the door so the ladies would leave. He closed the door after he walked out. There was no thought of his jacket as the warm south breeze blew bright fall leaves at there feet as they walked back to their car. As they drove off, the grownups in the front seat talked as he sat quietly in the backseat. They had not asked for his opinion yet and it probably would not happen anytime soon.
The offer was a good one and the sellers family was motivated to get rid of it. It seemed that the old guy that owned it, was not popular with his kids and they wanted to get him out of the house and into a home where he could be watched…for his own good. They were going to close on the house the week before Thanksgiving. As the day of the closing approached, Erica called Sharon to ask how she wanted to handle the deed. Normally, it wasn’t a big deal, but the way that she had seen these two argue, it was worth having the conversation. “The only reason I bring this up Sharon, is because you guys are married and normally a title company will put a married couple’s name on the deed. I know that he is not contributing financially and some couples would not have both names on the deed just to spite the other. It is completely your call.” Erica was hoping that Sharon would just allow his name to be on the deed so that she would not fill out more paper at the closing. She got into Real Estate for the money, not to be a paper pusher. “Well…” Sharon drifted off in thought, “…Well, if something happens to me, i want to make sure that the girls are safe and cared for. They would need a place to live and he would be taking care of the girls. So yeah, put his name on the deed” Sharon said as she finished thinking aloud. She hoped that she had made the right call, sometimes she just dd not know about Trevor. He may be the nicest guy one day and the next a complete dick! It was too late to question it now. “Consider it done!” Erica said quickly.
The close of the house took place in a nondescript office park decorated by carefully landscaped trees with vibrant yellows, burnt oranges and freshly cut green grass. As they walked to the front door, Trevor wondered why he was here. He did not “contribute” to this, and he has been reminded of this fact several times since she made the offer. She found the office and let the receptionist know that they were here. The waiting room was scattered with neatly rowed chairs and well worn magazines. Several people looked through the magazines, while others sat there with their arms crossed, looking blankly at ceiling tiles. Trevor sat there with his arms crossed. His new button down shirt made his skin itch She insisted that he wear one. Even though he did act like the man of the house, he would at least play the part today.
An older man dressed in a suit that he had obviously had owned for a while slowly stood up with the help of a younger man. Trevor, assumed it was his son. They followed the professionally dressed woman into the back area, away from the waiting room. A few minutes passed and the October 1996 Golf Digest had an article on a young man named Tiger Woods that we should want to know about. Trevor smiled when he read the title of it. “Who would have thought Tiger would be who he is today…I bet…”
“Mr. and Mrs. Davis!”
Sharon and Trevor looked at each other and stood up. As he waited for Sharon to straighten out her dress that was now wrinkled after sitting on it for so long, he noticed that Mr. Nelson and son were exiting the back office area. The older man looked very distraught, almost as if he had been crying. The man who could be his son looked embarrassed and yet annoyed. He held the Title Company’s packet of completed paperwork under one arm while his dad held on to the other arm. He was walking his dad out of the office, but it was not a walk that oozed comfort. Trevor felt for the guy. Sharon was closing on the house of her dreams and he was along for the ride on the dreams of her house.
“Both of your names appear on the deed so i need you both to sign here, here and here.” The woman that had lead them to the room was also the Title Company’s best closing agent. It was obvious that she had done this before and could set a personal best time record if all involved kept there mouths shut and just let her go. The look of total confusion was evident on Trevor’s face and Sharon passed the deed paperwork over to him to sign. “Just sign it and I will explain later…”
Dumbfounded, he signed page one…page three and signed and dated page five. A chill caught him by surprise. He rubbed his arms for warmth, but he was not cold.
The house was Hers! Her girls would finally have their own rooms. Trevor had told her that at the last house. But he never lifted a finger to build out that room in the basement. Again, she went around him to get what she wanted. Something as basic as a room for each of their girls was just that, Basic. Money would be tight for a while until Trevor found a job. And even if Trevor found a job, how long would he have it. Sharon felt like she fought him on everything, especially home improvement projects. Trevor was a General Contractor and made decent money, when he actually had a job. “Daddy, come look at my room! Look what i did to it!” Corrine was 10 years old. Princesses and Hannah Montana made Trevor’s skin crawl. “Go show your mother!, I am in the middle of something…” Corrine had expected that, but it still hurt when he pushed her off. It showed in her face. Trevor wasn’t all that busy, but it was going to be pink and fluffy and he had seen it all before. “Whoop-de-freaking-Do!”
Trevor was looking at the wall. It was cracked, it was chipped, it was 100 year old plaster walls. They needed to be fixed and then painted. Easy enough. The master bedroom was a huge room, but unlike newer houses, there was not a closet or a master bathroom. But it had plaster, and that plaster needed a lot of help. “I think i saw some joint compound in the basement…” he thought to himself. As he headed downstairs, he passed the living room and Corrine was explaining what she had done to her room to Sharon. A quick glance to Sharon to convey a look of “I feel for you” was met with a look of “You are such a Dick…”. He was not expecting that.
In the basement, he found the tub of compound, but it was old and dried out. “Crap!” This meant a trip to the store and that meant a trip with one of the girls. He plodded upstairs. “I need more mud for the walls in our bedroom and…” Sharon interrupted in a way to get to her point, “…Then you need to take one of the girls.” Corrine was talking her mom to show her what she had done in the room, so that just left Reagan. She was the mirror image of her mom. Pretty, smart and big attitude in a 4 year old body. “Let’s go Reagan, get your shoes on.” She was already in the foyer, getting her shoes out of her shoe box. Sharon was big on organization and even during the unpacking from a move; rooms were starting to get put together. That is one of the many things that made Sharon and Trevor exact opposites. He would have unpacked everything, and then organized. “Whatever…”
She held out her hand and he took it gruffly as he opened the screen door for her. He closed the heavy wooden front door behind them. He picked her up and carried her to the car seat he had in his truck. The truck was an early 1980’s model. He had worn it out over the years with hunting trips and drunk nights with his friends. The fact that the gun rack and ice coolers were gone and there was now a car seat there made Trevor wonder where those guys are and if they miss him partying with them. Oh well.
Driving through Salina, the tree covered streets were turning all shades of autumn. City workers were working on getting Downtown ready for the Thanksgiving day parade. The lights and the ribbons on all the lampposts made for a very festive street, as long as you did not look at the shop fronts. They had closed long ago. Some people where trying to rebuild the downtown area, but it was not going as well as they hoped. “I wonder what this placed looked in its hay-day?” Reagan was bubbling with excitement every time she saw a candy cane wreath on a lamppost. Trevor liked the candy cane wreaths too, but was more partial to the Christmas tree shaped wreaths. “Daddy, look! A candy cane!” “Yep,…” Trevor responded in such a way to “Yes, I heard you, but I don’t want to hear for you again.” Little Reagan got the message. She stopped talking, but her face could not contain her excitement. She smiled all the way to the hardware store. She liked being with her daddy, but did not know why he could be so mean.
They got the joint compound for the cracks and a couple small things to make that project a little bit easier. They pulled into the driveway and went back into the house The afternoon was full of mudding and sanding and getting the room ready to paint. She had already bought the paint and the brushes and everything else you need to paint the room. She had wanted this done to this room from the moment they signed on the dotted line. He was trying to knock this out in one weekend, he did not know if he was going to get it all done in two days. He was trying to be the nice guy since he felt guilty for having his name on the deed of a house that he did not help pay for. At least, he thought, “If I can get at least one room done the way she wants it, I can argue that I helped make this house what she wants and I have at least some ownership to the house” He knew he was on shaky ground with her.
Late Sunday night, he was able to get the bed up in the master bedroom so she could get to sleep to be able to go to work in the morning. The 2 coats of paint were dry but the areas at the taped edges still glistened in the light of the bed side lamp as she read. She read every night before she went to sleep. It was the only time she could escape this loveless marriage she was in, even if only for a few minutes before she fell asleep and started it all over again. There was a smile on her face as she breathed in the paint fumes of the first finished project in her new house. She hoped that it was not be the last.
He awoke the next morning on the couch downstairs. Sharon was walking out the door with the girls in tow. Sharon had to get Corrine to school and Trevor had to get Reagan to Daycare. He rubbed his eyes and wondered why she just can’t take both kids since she is leaving the house anyways. All he wanted to do was sleep. She knew that.
“After you drop her off at daycare, come to the office and pick me up. We need to go get you a job…” Sharon continued without letting him answer. “You have to have her to daycare no later than 8:05, I will see you at my office around 8:15, right?” “Yep” It was the only thing Trevor could say. His agenda had been set for him and he hated it.
He turned on the TV for Reagan to watch while he went upstairs to get dressed. He heard the front door close as he walked into the room with all of his clothes still in bags and boxes. He had yet to start unpacking himself. He found a couple shirts that did not smell too bad and went with the one that was not as wrinkled as the other. “There could be a job interview, after all” he thought to himself. He gathered his jeans and workboots as he hopped down the hallway to the stairs. Walking into the living room where the TV was, Reagan was sitting there, patiently waiting, watching TV.
“Can you carry me to the car?????”
“Cuz I Baby!”
“You are 4, you can walk.”
The tears started up quickly. The crying, the sobbing the everything else that goes with a 4 year old trying to get her way. He looked at the clock and realized it would be quicker to give in here than be late getting to Sharon’s Office.
The emotional melt down came to a abrupt halt as soon as his gruff hands grabbed her under the arms to pick her up and get her out the door. He made sure to grab all of the bags and toys that she would need for the day. As he slammed the front door behind him and was sprinting to the truck, Reagan had a smile on her face as he hurried with her in his arms.
One he had her in her car seat, he hurriedly looked for the directions to the day care place. He could not find them.
“It’s on the table…..Dammit!”
Looking at his watch, he knew he was probably going to be late. He opened the truck door and out of the corner of his eye, he saw his hand held GPS. “Its got to be on there.” It was the hand me down from Sharon. Since she got this new job, she was able to afford a great car that already had GPS Nav in it. All Trevor knew is that it hopefully was about to save him from a butt chewing.
“Candi’s Kids, Thank god!”
He hit select and mounted it on the windshield. There was no more drama finding Candi’s Kids Daycare. Reagan was happy to see her new friends and they seems to like her. Sharon has a way of finding good people to surround herself with.
“Then why is she such a bitch!” He thought to himself as he drove to her office.
He found a parking spot right up front and was trying to tuck in his shirt as she walked out.
“You are late…..did you run into some traffic?”
That has always been Trevor’s favorite excuse, but in a town this big, traffic is never an issue, unless it is right after the Annual Salina South vs Salina Central Football game. But it was a Monday morning at 8:20.
“Nope, just running a little late.”
“Did Rea-Rea get to Candi’s on time?”
“Yep, she had not left yet.”
“Great. We are going to drive my car. You know how I feel about your truck.” It was true, she hated it and he would not let it go. It was a Red 1981 Ford F-150. No Crew Cab. No FM Radio. One Bench Seat. And it was old and ugly.
Sharon’s car on the other hand was brand new. Lexus or Accura, hybrid crossover with a shot of double expresso. And it smelled new. He opened door to sit down.
“…Ah ah ah, hold on. Go get my old GPS thing so you will know where to go after we find you something. I don’t want you getting lost!” Trevor slammed the nice, new car door and mumbled obscenities as he marched over to his truck and retrieved the GPS “thingy”. As walked back, Sharon could tell he was mumbling something and she was probably glad she could not hear him. She did not make eye contact with him as he opened the door.
“What the hell is this???”
“I did not want your multi-tool on your belt to scratch the leather seat so I got a towel for the seat… Just get in!”
Trevor felt like the wet muddy dog in the back seat of a nice car. But since she tried to make it look like this marriage was working, he got to sit in the front seat on occasion. The view was nice up front.
“The Golden Meadows Sub-division is going up on the east edge of town. They are always looking for workers.” Sharon explained to Trevor.
There was silence as she drove. He was too pissed to say much of anything and there was only going to be an argument when she started talking.
They drove east on Crawford Road to the The Golden Meadows sub-division . It was going up near the Golf Course. He looked out the passenger window as they turned right onto Golden Meadows Trail. The mud plastered to the asphalt from the heavy construction vehicles told him they were close. The first few houses had already been completed and the new owners had moved in. They were average suburbia style houses with stone half way up to give the look that they had been there a while. The grass, or more correctly, the sod had yet to arrive to be put down. So much for being there a while.
She found the construction office trailer and pulled up next to it.
“I will wait here.”
He slowly got out of the car. He was doing this, not because he wanted to, but because she was making him. They both knew it. They both felt like this was a parent/child relationship. Neither of them liked it.
As Trevor opened the door to the trailer, Sharon turned on his GPS device and saved this location to it. She knew he could make a great first impression, it was just a matter of if he would or not. A few minutes later, Trevor walked out laughing with the job site manager laughing as well, patting him on the back.
As Trevor, opened the door, she could hear that the conversation had indeed gone well.
“Alright Mike, See ya tomorrow!”
Mike gestered back with a laugh on his face as Trevor tried to make sure that he was sitting on the towel that was set out for him, like a good boy would.
“Great, see you at 7:00 and don’t be late”
Trevor shut the door and waved once more. Sharron looked over at him and he had that look. That smile. She had not seen it in a while and then it was gone.
“There, I got a freaking job. I start tomorrow. Are you happy??!!!””
“Now, was that so hard?” Sharon countered.
They both sat in silence. Both getting madder and sadder every minute that this went on. Sharon had had enough and she finally said something to try and break the tension.
“I programmed your GPS for that job site…”
“I am sure that you did, and you did it to make sure that your moron of a guy, does not get lost, right??? I can find it myself, THANK YOU!”
“I was trying to be nice…”
“Great Job, being nice!”
For once Sharon was able to hear the road noise in her new car. She thought it was built for a quiet ride, but the silence between the two of them had proved it otherwise. They arrived in the parking lot of her office on campus. As she was looking for a parking spot, he was rounding up the GPS and the power cable. It was obvious that he did not want to spend any more time with her than he had to. Still more Silence.
She found a spot and as she put it in park his door was open and his boots were on the ground. She was expecting the door to be slammed. She looked over to watch him slam the door. To her surprise, he took the towel off of the seat and started folding. She looked at his face to see if the anger had broke.
“You may treat me like a child, but I still can think on my own.” Trevor said as he angrily folded the last fold in her Car towel. He gruffly set the towel down on the seat and shut the car door.
Sharon just sat there, in her brand new car, and watched him walk away. She sat in a crowded parking lot, alone with her thoughts. “How did we let it get like this?”
Once again Trevor was pissed. And once again, he was pissed at her. “She drags me up here to this po-dunk little town. I don’t know anybody. This Fucking Sucks!” This conversation goes on in his head over and over until he pulls up in front of their house. Putting the truck in park, he realizes where he is. Back at the house.
“I am not going to spend the rest of my day waiting for her to come home and yell at me some more, I am going out.” He steps out of the car and starts walking to downtown. Of all the business that are thriving downtown, the bars seem to be doing the best.
“Nothing like finding a place to drink before lunch!” He thought to himself. It was close to 11:00 AM by the time he got there, it would be open for lunch. As he walked, every step made him less mad and more thirsty. He tried to make mental notes on how to get home. As he walked up the over wide sidewide, wide enough to accomodate a lot off traffic when they were first built, he passed shops and stores that looked like Mom and Pop shops trying to sell anything and everything, just trying trying to get traffic through the doors. There were some really large store fronts that looked like they had been vibrant at one point. “I wonder what this place looked like when it was busy…” Trevor thought to himself as he stared at some of the boarded up store fronts. He stopped and looked at one abandoned space. It was huge. This space had the goregeous tin ceilings and plastered walls that the people in the big cities clamor for. The worn hardwood floors were scattered with debris from other owners using this as storage space. The space had become a place where other would drop off materials from failed or failing business, hoping that in better times, they could be used again. They would never be collected again. They now collected dust. Because it is in the middle of Kansas, this place sits idle. “Was this a Woolworth’s or a JC Penny’s or what the hell was this???” He thought to himself as he cupped his hand around his eyes to cut off the glare of the bright day to peer into the dark and dusty store. He was amazed at what he saw.
He wiped his hands off on his jeans and started to walk again. He looked around and saw a half dozen buildings just like this one. Some of them were opening up for the day. One of the doors that were opening for the day was a bar and grill that had taken over the ground floor of one of the abandoned stores. The neon beer signs and the smell of burgers on the grill made the decision an easy for Trevor as he started he way across the no so busy main street. As he walked in, he saw the high ceilings with the ornate tin patterns, the crown moldings make the smooth transition from ceiling to wall and the lack of crap left over from previous failed businesses all over the place. This place put a genuine small on his face. “Today is going to be a good day” Trevor though to himself as he sat down, unconsciously taking the whole scene in. “I am going to be here for a while….” he slid his check card towards the guy behind the bar. It was actually Sharon’s account but she had put his name on the the account several years ago when he actually had a job. He wasn’t thinking about that as he ordered his first beer, the burger and fries. This place had several large screen tvs and they all had highlights from the NFL and College football games over the past weekend. The large flat panel TV’s were in stark contrast to the palatable old time drug store feel that this place gave off. One of the TV’s had the NFL Network on and it was showing NFL Classic games. It was the TV right in front of where he was sitting. It was the perfect way to drink the day away.
The 1981 NFC Classic. Dallas Cowboys vs the San Francisco 49er’s. The heavily favored Dallas Cowboys with their crushing defense against the 49er’s unproven offense with the unproven QB Joe Montana. This is the game that put Joe Montana on the map. This game would be close throughout. In the fourth quarter, the 49er’s got the ball back on their 11-yard line, trailing 21-27, and the drove the ball to the Cowboys 6-yard line with less than a minute to play. It was 3rd down when Montana took the snap and rolled to his tight and was under severe pressure. he continued to roll out and fade away from the end zone to avoid pressure from Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Larry Bethea. He pumped faked once and Jones leaped. The sideline was closing in on Montana quickly as he continued to roll to his right. His primary receiver was perfectly defended on this play so he was at the throw it away stage of his progression. That is when he let the ball fly. He aimed for the back of the end zone, where nobody was. Where nobody was supposed to be. Dwight Clark, the sure handed receiver seemed to almost climb up, in thin air and take take history in his hands and make a miraculous catch. Final Score: Dallas Cowboys 27 San Francisco 49er’s 28. The Hapless 49er’s were now on there way to the Superbowl. Their first of many. This was the start of it all for them. Trevor had seen this play over and over so many times that by the time it got to that point in the game re-broadcast, he did not need to see it. He just drank his ice cold beer and took the last bite of his burger.
People came and went with their productive days and to and from with their productive lives. He just sat and drank. Every once and a while he would get a new beer. He knew that that he was supposed to report to his new job in the morning. He could not get too drunk. He had been able to teeter on the edge of being completely shitfaced and sobering up. This teetering between sobriety and feeling “ All Right” takes a long time. He lost track of which game he was watching and the fact the 11:00AM had turned into 8:30PM and that the night crowd was starting to come in. Trevor signed the last credit card receipt from his day of drinking and slowly made his way to the door. He hoped that he could find his way to the house. As he walked down the awning covered sidewalk, the night life was surprisingly alive. There are restaurants and coffee shops speckled along the abandoned downtown. The only thing he noticed was that he could see where he was walking when he passed in front of one of these places.
He stopped at one of the park benches outside of one of the coffee shops and took a seat to rest. As he ran his hands over his unshaven face and through his coarse, black hair, he realized that tomorrow was quickly coming. No matter how much fun he had had today, he was going to have to pay for it. Not only would he be paying for it tomorrow, he would be paying for it with Sharon for quite a while.