My House and Treasures :: N2W 220702

Inspired by KL Caley’s #WRITEPHOTO Challenge to write a

“Hello Ms. Danburry. This is my wife Halvah. Nice to meet you. How can we help?”

“It’s this house Mr. Douglas. I believe you worked on it several years ago.”

“Please call me Ethan. Ah – yes, that’s likely but let me think. It would have been close to fifteen years ago and I was just a laborer working for Mr. Lombardi. It would not have looked so beat up in those days and it does look familiar. Was there a problem – because I don’t think Mr. Lombardi is still alive?”

“Oh no – there’s no problem, but it begins to explain why I needed you to meet me here. I have unusual news for you.  I went digging and found one document that you signed off on for some floor work. It was strange because the owner really wasn’t particularly meticulous about record keeping.”

“Okay. That’s certainly possible. I was Lombardi’s foreman for several years, and this place; I’m sorry, I just don’t recall what we did here?  I’ve worked on so many similar homes over the years.”

“Do you recall the owner?”

“Hm, this could be the Rayburn or Tenneson home. No – that’s not right. They’re both a few blocks east of here, on 5th street. This is Mr. Sanchez’s place, right?”

“No. Think wheelchair.”

“Ah – of course. Mrs. Ashberry. But what happened to the ramp in front? Her house definitely had a wheelchair ramp.”

“Her daughter likely had it taken out when her mom moved to the rest home. I really don’t know. It didn’t happen on my watch.”

“We did a nice pass-through from her kitchen to the dining room, a dumbwaiter between all three floors and a weird storage room for her. That flooring job was part of the storage room. Man, that was a fun challenge. Halvah, do you remember my telling you about the floor with the pulleys and counterbalances?”

“I do, but that really was long ago. Joseph would have been only in first or second grade.”

“That does sound like Mrs. Ashberry. Her will is the reason we’re talking. She had only one living relative and I’m guessing that she and her daughter didn’t get on very well because She left this house and everything in it to you”

“Mine?  Why would she leave me her house? We barely . . .  oh wait. She and I did talk a lot when I was working for her. Halvah, Mrs. Ashberry was the customer with all kinds of wild ideas she wanted me to build for her. She had me do several things around the house. They were all – let’s call it unique. The hall floor dropped to become a ramp down to her storage room. She and I played with several ideas how to make it work for her because of her wheelchair. She was fun to work with and once we got to know each other, she paid Lombardi a lot to keep me around working for her. Unless you knew to look for it, that floor access was almost invisible. She thought it was all so much fun. But now – she’s left it all to me?  Wow.”

“Mr. Doug – um, Ethan, I’m sorry that I had to change plans at the last moment. We really should have met in my office before coming here but my daughter was caught up in a school bus crash this morning. All the children are fine, but that pretty much blew up my morning appointments. I’m scrambling to catch up but there are some title documents I need you both to sign. Can you come by later today?”

“Sure. After four, okay?”

“That would be perfect. I intended on taking you through it but now I’m thinking you likely already know the place better than me. Here’s your key. The old place may need a lot more of your attention but it’s all yours now regardless.”

“Thank you, Ms. Danbury. We’ll see you this afternoon.

“Halvah – we – we have a house! As I recall it’s none-to-elegant, but it was built to last and . . .”

“Ethan. Can we just walk in and see it?”

“Ha-ha, of course. I just never saw this coming and can hardly believe it. A house, our house. Umm – um.”

“It looks in pretty bad shape, but I do know a guy who’s handy with a hammer. Come on – let’s check it out.”

#  –  #  –  #

“Well, it does need a lot of work, Ethan, and you’re not that spunky 60-hour work week guy I married almost 35 years ago. We would have to hire out a lot of the work it needs. With the kids now out on their own, I’m not sure it even makes sense for us to try and figure out how to pay to fix it up. Maybe we should just sell it, take the cash and pay off the credit cards and the hospital bills for your last accident.”

“Most of the work would be dry rot repair and some termite damage. I can deal with most of that, but it needs new windows, and it always makes more sense to hire that work out. It needs paint everywhere and, I don’t know what to make of the furniture she left.”

Sigh. It’s also scary collection of dust and knick-knack hell, isn’t it? There are a couple pieces of furniture or some of her artsy statues, that might be worth selling to an antique dealer. But Ethan, most of her stuff is just worn out. It’s going to cost a lot to just have most of it hauled to the dump. The kitchen really needs an upgrade. So do the bathrooms. But you were right. I never saw anything that looked like a door down to a secret storage room. You’re going to have to show me – but what’s with the smirk?”

“You’re almost standing right on it my dear. Come here and I’ll show you.  I’ll bet no one’s used it for years. She said she didn’t want her daughter to know about it so unless that changed, her daughter might not have known to even look for it.  Okay, see these shelf braces?  The middle one isn’t load bearing but works keen as a release for the floor ramp.  Umm, kinda sticky – I’ll have to re-wax it. There it goes; the far edge is dropping, hinged from right where you were almost standing. It won’t drop enough for us to walk down. It was only designed for someone very short or in a wheelchair.  We’ll have to scrunch to get down there.”

“Ooo – but this is fun. Sounds like the pulleys could use some grease but, Ethan, this must have been so much fun to build. You talked about it a lot at the time, but I was always exhausted after spending the day with our three toddlers. Can you imagine how much fun they would have had with a secret room? And the light came on automatically. Was that your idea?”

“Yep. Watch your head Love. She didn’t want to fuss with light switches and couldn’t see ever not wanting the light on down there. And it looks like she used it to store lots of coffee. The shelves are almost full of coffee cans.  I’ll bet after who-knows-how-long, all this coffee is going to taste just great. More stuff to throw out.”

“Well, I’m glad you at least made it tall enough for us to stand down here. Yea, she must have loved her coffee. I understand that some people collect these old cans. Maybe we can empty them out and sell them to collectors.”

“There must be close to a hundred of them.”

“Ethan – there’s an envelope here. It’s addressed to you.”

“What? Let me see it – hmm. Okay, it reads, ‘Hello Ethan. I hope you remember me. We had such fun working on this house all those years ago. You were not born when life was extra hard and so I lived as simply as I could even when work was easier to get. I didn’t trust banks after the crash which I know now was silly and a mistake. Anyway, I used to hide my treasures in old coffee cans buried in closets and different nooks until you built me a wonderful hidden room for them. You gave me so much peace with this room. A friend taught me how to invest wisely and explained how banks were safer now. I made good money investing, so was able to pay for a nice rest home to care for me the rest of my days. But that left this house empty. I recall your passion for working on it and decided that you were the best person I both knew and trusted to wisely deal with it. My attorney checked for me, so I knew you were still alive and living nearby, so, if you’re reading this, you now own my home and my treasures. You are also likely the only person who knows this room exists and how to access it. I know it’s not in the best of shape, but it was so much fun talking with you and thinking with you about all the clever things you could do to fix this place up. I so enjoyed getting to know you and wanted to leave the house with someone who could love it again as I once did. With fond memories, Kathrine Ashberry.’

“Well, that was nice of her. She was so friendly. It did not occur to me that she thought me special somehow.”

“Oh – I know exactly what she’s talking about. You’re always the friendliest guy in the room. I’ve had several friends who wanted to be notified if I ever dumped you.”

“Ha! I never knew I had the makings of a fan club. And you just accidentally forgot to tell me all this . . .”

“. . . quite deliberately. I like the humble you just fine thanks. You don’t need to know about the list of ladies anxious to find a spot on your arm. Nope – that spot is taken, and you’re stuck with me.

“Oh – look. This can’s been opened and resealed.”

“This one too. The mystery grows. Shall we see what treasures Ms. Ashberry left for me, um, us? We might a lifetime supply of Hummels to sort through”

“Got your knife handy?  It looks like the seal will cut right off – wax maybe.”

“I always have a knife handy. Here, allow me – there – a gentle pry and viola! Oh my! Halvah, would you look at this. It’s full of cash, lots of very old cash, $20 bills each of them. We might be thousand-airs.”

“If many of these cans are full of $20 bills, there is going to be more than a few thousand. Open a few more but start at the right side of the shelf where the line seems to end. Maybe these older-looking cans go back to when she was younger and money tighter, but later she was doing better and was stashing cash. Yes, that one, it might be one of the last.”

“Here goes and the answer is – you’re right. These are all $50 bills! Gracious! You might need to pinch me. I was pretty sure nothing like this could ever happen to me.”

“If you’re dreaming, I’m right there with you but don’t even think about pinching me. There’s more $20 bills on this end.”

“I have second can full of $50 bills and this one is, um – hmm. Halvah, you work in a bank. There are ten or twelve fancy documents with what looks like tear-off coupons all rolled up in this can. Do you know what a ‘Bearer Bond’ is, and could they buy us a new truck to haul all our restoration supplies with?”

House restoration N2W

Photo Credit: KL Caley

GW bio card 4

8 thoughts on “My House and Treasures :: N2W 220702

      1. Hi Tessa.
        I was referring to the form where the author only uses character dialog to tell the story with no narrator voice at all.
        I find it a fun writing challenge and strongly draws in a reader.
        It leaves much to the reader to figure out because there no narrator to describe the characters or place them anywhere. It all comes from what the characters would say.
        For example:

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Great story. Yes, the dialog only is a tough task. Try giving your characters a some action. This can give characters more depth and imagery.
    Nice work

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Antoinette.
      Excellent idea 💡 and challenge.
      I’ve written enough dialog only now that it’s not hard anymore but you do have to buy into telling the story differently.
      On the other hand, characters can misspeak, exaggerate, bring a bias or agenda or even outright lie. Readers would not tolerate such things from a narrator.


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