Independence Day: Bascombe Trilogy | Chapter 16 of 22 - Part: 1 of 11

Author: Richard Ford | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 14947 Views | Add a Review

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10

“You know, Jerry, the truth is I just began to realize I didn’t care what happened to me, you know? Worry and worry about making your life come out right, you know? Regret everything you say or do, everything seems to sabotage you, then you try to quit sabotaging yourself. But then that’s a mistake. Finally you just have to figure a lot’s out of your control, right?”

“Right! Thanks! Bob from Sarnia! Next caller. You’re on Blues Talk. You’re on the air, Oshawa!”

“Hi, Jerry, it’s Stan….”

Out my window a tall, blond, bronze-skinned, no-shirt, chisel-chest hombre of about my own age is working a big chamois cloth over a red vintage Mustang with what looks to be red-and-white Wisconsin plates. For some reason he’s wearing green lederhosen, and it is his loud and blarey radio that has shaken me awake. Crackling morning light and leafy shadow spread across the gravel and the lawns of neighborhood houses behind the inn. It’s Sunday. The lederhosen guy’s here for the “Classic Car Parade,” which rolls tomorrow, and doesn’t want the dust and grime to get ahead of him. His pretty plump-as-a-knödel wife is perched on the fender of my car, sunning her short brown legs and smiling. They’ve hung their bright red floor mats off my bumper to dry.

Another American—Joe Markham, for instance—might snarl out at them: “Getyerfuckinmatsoffyaasshole.” But that would spoil a morning, wake the world too early (including my son). Bob from Sarnia has already put it well enough.

By eight I’ve shaved and showered, using the clammy, tiny-windowed, beaverboard cubicle, already hot and malodorous from the previous user (I spied the woman with the neck brace slipping in, slipping out).

Paul is twisted into his covers when I rouse him with our oldest reveille: “Time’s a wastin’ … miles to go … I’m hungry as a bear … hop in the shower.” We’ve checked out when we checked in and now have only to eat and beat it.

Then I’m down the stairs, hearing church bells already, as well as the muffled sumptuary noises of belly-buster breakfasts being eaten in the dining room by a group of total strangers who have only the Baseball Hall of Fame in common.

I’m eager to call Ted Houlihan (I forgot to try again last night), and get him ready for a miracle: the Markhams have crumbled; my strategy’s borne fruit; his balls are as good as gone. Though the choking-man diagram, here again above the phone as I listen to ring after ring, reminds me unerringly of what realty’s all about: we—the Markhams, the bad apples at Buy and Large, Ted, me, the bank, the building inspectors—we’re all hankering to get our hands around somebody’s neck and strangle the shit out of him for some little half-chewed piece of indigestible gristle we identify as our “nut,” the nitty gritty, the carrot that makes the goat trot. Better, of course, to take a higher road, operate on the principle of service and see if things don’t turn out better….

“Hello?”

“Hey, good news, Ted!” I shout straight into the receiver. The breakfast club in the next room falls hushed at my voice—as if I’d gone hysterical.

“Good news here too,” Ted says.

“Let’s hear yours first.” I am instantly wary.

“I sold the house,” Ted says. “Some new outfit down in New Egypt. Bohemia, or something, Realty. They got it off the MLS. The woman brought a Korean family over last night around eight. And I had an offer in hand by ten.” When I was gabbing with Paul about whether or not he’s truly hopeless. “I called you around nine and left a message. But I really couldn’t say no. They put the money in their trust account night deposit.”

“How much?” I say grimly. I experience a small, tight chill and my stomach goes corked.

“What’s that?”

“How much did the Koreans pay?”

“Full boat!” Ted says exuberantly. “Sure. One fifty-five. I jewed the girl a point too. She hadn’t done anything to earn it. You’d done more by a long shot. Your office gets half, of course.”

“My clients just don’t have anyplace to live now, Ted.” My voice has lowered to a razor-thin whisper. I would be happy to choke Ted with my hands. “We had an exclusive listing with you, we talked about that yesterday, and at the least you were going to get in touch with me so I could put a competitive offer in, which is what I’ve got authorized.” Or nearly. “One fifty-five. Full boat, you said.”

“Well.” Ted pauses in a funk. “I guess if you want to come back at one-sixty, I could tell the Koreans I forgot. Your office would have to work it out with Bohemia. Evelyn something’s the girl’s name. She’s a little go-getter.”

“What I think is, Ted, we’re going to have to probably sue you for breach of contract.” I say this calmly, but I’m not calm. “Have to tie your house up for a couple of years while the market drops, and let you convalesce at home.” All baloney, of course. We’ve never sued the first client. It’s business suicide. Instead, you simply bag your 3%, of which I get half, exactly $2,325, maybe make a worthless complaint to the state realty board, and forget about it.

“Well, you have to do what you have to do, I guess,” Ted says. I’m sure he’s standing once again at the rumpus room window in a sleeveless sweater and chinos, mooning out at his pergola, his luau torches and the bamboo curtain he’s just breached in a big way. I wonder if the Koreans even bothered to walk out back last night. Although a big lighted prison might’ve made them feel safer. They aren’t fools.

“Ted, I don’t know what to say.” The noisy eaters in the next room have started back tink-tink-tinking their flatware, mouths full of pancakes, blabbing about how the berm-improvements work between here and Rochester’ll “impact” on driving times to the Falls. Suddenly my chill is over and I’m hot as a sauna bath.

“You might just feel happy for me, Frank, instead of suing me. I’ll probably be dead in a year. So it’s good I sold my house. I can go live with my son now.”

“I really just wanted to sell it for you, Ted.” I am made lightheaded at the unexpected arousal of death. “I’ve got it sold, in fact,” I say faintly.

“You’ll find them another house, Frank. I didn’t think they much liked it here.”

I push my fingertips hard onto the stack of year-old Annie Get Your Gun tickets. Someone, I see, has slid the copy of Achieve Super Marital Sex underneath the stack, with old Mr. Pleasure Unit’s happy face peeking upward. “They liked it a lot,” I say, thinking about Betty Hutton in a cowboy hat. “They were cautious, but they’re sure now. I hope your Koreans are that reliable.”

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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