Part 2 —
On top of everything, she’d fallen for the pitch of a scam artist, investing her hard earned money with him instead of the much safer Teacher’s Retirement fund. Thousands of dollars, lost to that shyster.
She chewed on the end of one finger. Should she call Violet or Benny to let them know the news? No, she decided. It wouldn’t be fair of her to intrude on the lives of her younger siblings. Violet was living in Paris with her third husband now, and Benny was off in Africa working with Doctors Without Borders. She wasn’t sure if he had a permanent home, and it had been a year since she’d seen him when he’d returned for the 25 year reunion of his graduating class at medical school.
Jessie stepped to the backdoor and opened it so that Watch Four, her aged Wire-haired Fox Terrier, could go outside. “There you go, boy. Do your business.”
Watch no longer trotted everywhere he went. Instead, he moved at a slow, careful pace as if he was measuring each step. His head jerked in time to his steps, and she knew he was hurting. The massive doses of glucosamine she added to his food each morning were no longer making a difference. He would be leaving her before long, just like his father, Watch 3, his grandfather Watch 2 and great grandfather, Watch, had all done at around 90 dog years of age.
Her phone rang.
“Yes,” she responded warily. The voice was unfamiliar.
“Jason Biggs with First Bank. In today’s mail, you should have received your foreclosure notice.”
The man waited for her response. She said nothing. Maybe if she didn’t acknowledge it, he would give her more time. A week? Who could find a new place to live and move the contents of a house in ONE WEEK?
“Miss Alden, are you there?”
She cleared her throat.
“Apparently you are, but you choose not to speak to me. In that case, I’ll confirm the contents of the letter. You are to have evacuated the premises no later than one week from today, or the sheriff will escort you off the property. Have you made arrangements to move?”
“Um, yes.” Jessie was too stunned at the abruptness of the man’s call to do anything but agree. She hadn’t made arrangements, but she would, wouldn’t she?
“Fine. We’ll expect the house to be completely vacant. Anything left behind will be forfeited. Understood?”
“Yes.” Did he think she was an idiot just because she was older than he was?
At the corner of the yard, before Jessie and Henry plunged into the tall grass, Jessie closed her eyes and took a breath. It had been twenty years since she’d been here. After grandfather’s funeral, the house went up for sale and the four of them had packed everything up, selling some of it and giving the rest to the Salvation Army’s resale store. It seemed like only yesterday. The only thing she’d kept had been her mother’s high school graduation photograph. Henry had taken grandfather’s clock: Violet had wanted the silver tea set; and Bennie had taken nothing. His lifestyle did not support possessions.
Actually, she and Bennie shared a distaste for materialism. Perhaps that was for the best, now. She could do with a much smaller living space, and even fewer personal belongings.
She opened her eyes in the glint of the low September sun and forged with Henry into the grass, stepping around young oak trees and a stand of sumac, heading toward what she had known to be a clearing, within view of the house. It was overgrown now–she wondered if the people who lived in the house even knew the boxcar existed. These days it was all about living inside, building huge game rooms and home theater rooms so that one never had to leave the house.
(Part 3 coming later this week!)