tagRomanceOld Man Eli

Old Man Eli

bythornapple©

Chapter One

"Aaron, Paul Fanning is on the phone."

"Thanks hon" and I picked up the extension. "Hi Paul."

"Hi, listen I have a couple of new listings that you might be interested in."

"What can you tell me about them?"

"Well the downside is the first one is on the south side of town, but it meets all of your other preferences."

"Okay put that aside, what about the other one?"

"It's in the heart of the Heritage Hill district but it's going to need some work."

"Let's just keep looking then since it isn't like I have to move immediately."

"Okay I just wanted to run those by you."

"Thanks for trying."

"That's why I'm here." I hung up and Mark put down a box he had just packed and asked, "Prospects?"

"Nah but he's trying." "So tell me again why we're packing now if you still don't have a house lined up?"

"I just know one is coming soon and I want to be ready. Besides it's now that you and Charlie are available to help."

"It's still gonna cost you."

"Now you sound like Charlie."

That's when Charlie entered the room and said, "What sounds like me?"

"Mark just said helping me pack is going to cost me."

"Damn right it is. We can't pack much more until you find a place though, assuming you ever do."

"Oh I will."

Sara came in and asked me, "Does Paul have something for you to look at?"

"Not really, I told him to keep looking."

As Charlie stacked his box on top of the one Mark sat down he said, "So he's confident he can find you a place closer to us and to work?"

"That's what Paul promises."

The four of them finished what little there was left to do and then gathered in the kitchen for lunch. Sara gathered the paper plates when they were done and asked me, "Are we still going to dinner tonight?"

"That's the plan. Mark is Kay coming?"

"She's coming."

"Charlie?"

"Nita can't, she's pulling a double."

"Too bad."

Mark and Charlie had to leave and as Sara and I walked them to the door both guys gave Sara a kiss and said, "That's partial payment for our labors."

Sara smiled and responded with, "Now wait, you helped Aaron and I'm paying you with my affections."

"Darlin' your affections are worth a lot more than dinner tonight."

"Liar, but don't let me stop you from saying that again one day."

After Kay, Mark and Charlie left, Sara and I dropped onto the couch and decided we'd worked long enough. Besides we needed to save what was left of us so we could take the others out for dinner and drinks at seven. It wasn't like I owned so much but I wanted to be certain things were packed securely so nothing was damaged by the movers when the big day finally came. Sara took my hand and asked me, "Are you really confident you'll move soon or are you just trying to be positive?"

"No I really am confident. Real estate seems to be moving in our area right now so that means the market turnover is healthy."

"So it's inevitable that your special place will magically appear."

"I don't know how magic it will be but yes, and in fact I'd be willing to bet it will happen in the next thirty days or less."

"And what are you betting?"

"Let me think about that a minute." Sara raised her eyebrows and said,

"I'll tell you what. This isn't an original idea but it's still a good wager. If it's more than thirty days you have to wash our cars in your underwear."

"Okay that's no problem, but in the backyard."

"Well yes I don't want you arrested. But Kay and Nita have to witness it."

"Now wait a minute."

"Otherwise what's the big deal? You wouldn't be risking anything."

"Okay then if I'm right the same goes for you and Mark and Charlie get to watch."

"No that won't work."

"Oh and why not?"

"Because..."

"Oh so it's a double standard then."

"No...but...in my panties and bra?"

"In your underwear would be bra and panties yes."

"You don't mind them seeing me like that?"

"I wouldn't want to make a habit of it but for purposes of this bet yes."

"And you're willing to let the women watch your boner bounce around while you wash the car."

"How do you know I'd have a boner?"

"I just think you would."

"As long as I'm covered I'll take my chances."

"Okay it's a bet. Thirty days from now and today counts as day one."

"Deal."

Sara and I met the other four at the Sundowner restaurant. It wasn't a fancy place at all but they had the best steaks in the area. The six of us almost arrived at the same time with Mark and Kay being first and claiming a table for us. Our first round of drinks were delivered and we all seemed in a festive mood. Conversation wandered between jobs, friends past and present and upcoming vacation plans. We made it through our steaks and were on our third round of drinks before Sara announced, "Aaron and I have a bet going." I saw Kay's smile break out so she had a suspicion it was going to be interesting.

"Tell us more Sara."

"Well I'm afraid Aaron has put his foot in it this time. If he doesn't find a house to buy within thirty days he has to wash our cars in his skivvies. And the best part is you me and Nita will be watching."

Kay laughed loudly and looked at me saying, "Oh lover this is going to be fun."

"Now wait," I told her. "If I do find a house to buy the same bet goes to Sara."

Both guys looked at Sara and Charlie jumped in with, "Oh Sara honey I'm not so sure you made a good bet. It sounds to me like the realtor is working hard to find something for Aaron."

"But he hasn't succeeded has he."

"This is going to be interesting." Turning to me Mark asked, "Are

cameras allowed?"

"Of course, in fact I encourage them."

Then Mark looked to Charlie saying, "I'll take one sector and you take another one and we'll spend tomorrow house hunting for Aaron."

"That's a great idea. We could find him something I'll bet."

Kay looked at Mark and said, "My God you act like a lusty teenager."

"Well you have the first part right" and that's where she slapped his arm. "I can't take you anywhere," but she was smiling as she shook her head.

Charlie looked at me and asked, "How did you get her to agree to this? I want to try something like this with Nita."

"Actually it was something Sara came up with."

Sara was quick to add, "But I wasn't thinking about me having to do it. I was suckered is all."

"Oh no you just didn't think about it first." We had one last round of drinks and then called it a night.

As we made our way outside and toward our cars Mark called out to Sara, "We expect and in fact demand that what you wear is thin, tiny and white." Kay slapped him again before going around to her side of the car. Everybody had a lot of fun with our bet and in spite of her protestations that included Sara.

Chapter Two

It was Thursday almost three weeks later when Paul came up with yet more houses for me to consider and called me at work. "Aaron I think one of these two just might be what you're looking for and I think would be worth your time to check them out."

"Okay I'll be out of here in about an hour so what time?"

"I'll pick you up in an hour and a half."

"See you then." I was going to ask him to describe them to me just as before but he seemed pretty excited about those two prospects.

Paul was right on time and twenty minutes later we were driving up to the first of the two houses he had in mind. From the outside it looked to be in nice condition with a modest front yard. "Aaron it's three bedrooms with the master on the ground floor."

"Two bathrooms?"

"Two and a half actually, the owners added the half bath a number of years ago."

"How old is the house?"

"Fifteen years."

"That's not bad at all."

"Home warranty?"

"Not at this time but I'm sure one could be provided." He led me through the house and I kept getting distracted because the present owners had incredibly bad taste when it came to color and décor. It was hard to imagine what potential there was but I kept trying. Paul was right, it was less than two thousand square feet with a ground floor master bedroom, the price was right and for the most part I could see that it would work for me. I looked out back and was disappointed by the small backyard but I wasn't ready to say no deal either.

We went on to the next one and as we drove Paul told me, "This place is on the very edge of the Historic District so the neighborhood is a mix of old and newer homes. I'm told it's a quiet neighborhood and it seems like a very stable area, no substandard houses or that sort of thing."

"How old?"

"This one is twenty years old." I was impressed with the appearance as we pulled up but I kept my silence and let Paul walk me through it as I opened doors and drawers. I looked for cracks in the plaster or stains on the ceiling kind of things, sort of a tire kicking approach actually. I had to remember Paul was really representing the sellers but I was finding nothing wrong of any significance and it was getting harder for me not to show Paul I was impressed.

I made a second pass through the house and worked at finding the negatives and I managed to voice a couple. "This is really on the very fringe of the area I was hoping for."

"I know but I just had to show it to you anyway because it just felt like something you might like." We talked about almost insignificant things like a home warranty and the amount of insulation in the ceiling, all things that could easily be dealt with either before or after the sale. When we were back near the front door I said, "I'd like to have my girlfriend see it as well as a couple of my friends and get their take on it."

"That's not a problem at all. The owners are out of town for a few more days yet so whatever time is convenient for you and your friends."

"I'll call you either later today or in the morning then."

"Does it feel like something that might work for you?"

"I don't know actually. Keep watching for something in closer and we'll see."

"I won't give up."

I told a half truth and said, "I have a couple of friends from the area and they and their girlfriends are going on a hunt for me tomorrow and see if they can find anything. I have a bet with them and if I find what I want within the next week I have to pay up because I told them it would be another month at least."

"So if you succeed you lose?"

"Yeah but if I can find a house it will be worth buying them a steak dinner and listen to them crow."

"Well if you do find this works for you I'll buy that dinner for everybody but you'll have to deal with their crowing."

I laughed and nodded saying, "I'll keep that in mind." Actually I'd told a bold faced lie except for the part about a bet but if it ended up with him buying all of us dinner I could live with that very nicely.

We had to wait until two o'clock Saturday for all of us to get together and go see the house. Sara, Kay and Nita were thorough in their inspection and considered the kitchen cabinets, the floor plan and on and on. Mark and Charlie on the other hand wandered through, considered where I could have my office, where the television would go and how big the refrigerator was. Within ten minutes the two guys were by my side and saying, "Yeah this is great buy it."

"Look you two I'm going to be out about twenty grand if I buy this and that's just from the commission, the filing fees and the moving costs so I want to be sure." "Yeah but you're running out of time and we don't want to watch you wash cars in your underwear."

"So I'm supposed to buy this just so you can watch Sara in her panties."

"Well yeah hell what did you expect?"

"I was kind of hoping for an honest opinion."

"Oh...well okay." All I could do was walk away shaking my head in disbelief.

Paul was smart enough to stay out of the way and let us pour over the house. He was also smart enough to linger closer to the women for awhile knowing I would listen to what they had to say more than anything from the guys. When we were done we thanked Paul and the six of us headed back to my place to discuss it. Grand Rapids, Michigan isn't the place to hang around outside in early May as a rule and that Saturday was no exception so we settled for coffee in the living room. While the women were involved with their discussion Mark stood with his back to them and looked at me. In a stage whisper he frantically tapped his watch and said, "Come on man you're running out of time here."

"I know, I know. Let's see what the women say."

"Remember, you only have four days left."

"Okay I hear you now sit down." Hell I wasn't eager to wash cars in my underwear that was for sure. It would be far more fun watching Sara do it.

I looked toward the three women and asked, "Okay, what do you three think?"

"We like it. We don't like how it's painted or decorated but that could be changed."

"Okay I agree with that. What about things like the kitchen and bathroom and so forth?"

"Pretty nice. Not perfect but then who can afford perfection?"

"Not me that's for sure." I didn't even bother to ask Mark or Charlie.

"Okay Sara start picking out your car washing outfit."

"Not so fast Aaron, first you have to give an offer and then wait to see if it will be accepted and then you have to give them a deposit. Until you do that it isn't yours and the bet isn't decided. Remember you have four days is all." Shit I knew she was right. I might have cut this just a little too fine after all.

"Not a problem" I said with a show of false bravery.

Chapter Three

As soon as his office was open on Monday I gave Paul an offer and tried to act nonchalant. If they came back with a counter offer I was screwed and Sara would have the last laugh plus Charlie and Mark would never let me hear the end of it. Paul didn't know the exact time frame so I figured at the very least we were getting a free steak dinner out of the deal when all was said and done.

I didn't hear from Paul all of Monday and again Tuesday until the middle of the afternoon. "Aaron they're making a counter offer of five up from yours." My offer wasn't all that far from their asking price and by now I figured I was screwed as far as our bet was concerned so I said,

"Paul that puts it within two grand of their asking price and I'm not interested in that. If they can't see their way clear to accept my offer then I guess we'll just keep looking."

"Let me get back with them and see what we can work out."

"Will that be today yet?"

"I'll see what I can do so stay close to the phone."

"Call me on my cell phone."

"Give me an hour or two." After I'd hung up I felt kind of silly. I was standing firm over a few grand and stood to lose out on a house that I had decided I really liked. I could sometimes show an amazing lack of intelligence.

I was seriously considering calling back and telling Paul that I would accept their counter offer when he called me. "Aaron it looks like you've bought a house."

"Excellent, I'll get a deposit to you within the hour."

"No need to hurry we can handle it tomorrow sometime."

"I'd rather do it now in case something comes up tomorrow." It surprised me how quickly I could come up with lame excuses and lies when I needed to but I had a lot at stake, like my pride or ego for example. Besides there was still the issue of having to tolerate Mark and Charlie if I screwed up.

"Okay Aaron I'll wait for you."

"I'll give you three grand so you can start the paper work as I drive your way."

"See you soon."

I made it to the real estate office in just under an hour and had my dated receipt. Now Sara had to pick out her bra and panties and I could relax and strut around her like a proud peacock with his tail spread wide.

When I got home I stood in the middle of the living room and looked at the boxes that were stacked in the corner. I was so ready to move that about all I'd have to worry about were my clothes, the kitchen and a few linens. I shook myself out of my reverie and called Sara. "Hi. Do you have your car washing outfit selected?"

"You didn't."

"Oh yes I did."

"I want proof."

"Of course you do and I have a dated receipt in my hand."

"You shit you're just loving this aren't you."

"I'm feeling pretty good."

"I suppose you've already told Mark and Charlie."

"No that will be my second call."

"So when can you move?"

"I don't know yet but I suspect it will be a few weeks."

"Okay go ahead and gloat lover I admit I was wrong."

"See you tomorrow?"

"No Sunday, I have to work tomorrow."

"Oh that's right. See you Sunday then." I hung up, grabbed a beer from the fridge and called Charlie first.

When Nita answered I told her, "Hi. You can plan on watching Sara wash cars in her panties as soon as the weather permits."

"You bought the house?"

"I did and before the deadline."

"You won't make her do that will you?"

"Of course I will it was her idea after all."

"You are cruel."

"Nah I'm gentle as they come but..."

"But you have to show off for Mark and Charlie."

"Well that does enter into it."

"You're terrible. Hold on, I'll put him on." Charlie had heard Nita's end of the conversation and laughed.

"Damn it man you did it."

"Yes I did but it was so close."

"I thought sure it was going to be you that we'd have to watch. So what's the time table for the house?"

"I don't know yet but it will be awhile."

"It will be good to have you living closer to all of us."

"I agree."

Mark was next and when I told him he let out a loud whoop.

"You did it man."

"I was within minutes of failing though."

"Close enough. So when do we have the show?"

"As soon as it's mild enough to make it tolerable."

"We needed a little excitement in our lives."

"I have to agree."

"So what about the house?"

"I'll guess a month but I don't know."

"Well congrats man."

"Thanks. I'll be glad when it's over though."

"Let the movers do their thing and then the six of us will do the rest."

"Thanks I'll take you up on it. Oh by the way I think I have a free steak dinner coming for the six of us."

"Fantastic, did you win it?"

"Nope I negotiated it with my realtor."

"Too sweet."

"Talk to ya later."

"Yeah." The next three weeks went slowly for me and the weather stayed cool and unreliable so we couldn't have our car wash. It looked like it would have to happen at the new house.

Just shy of the four week mark we had the closing and I now had my new house and that just left me with the fear of being stuck with my old one and having two mortgage payments that I couldn't afford. Once that was taken care of I would be able to relax and really enjoy my new house. Moving day was exciting and tiring at the same time. I had scheduled it to happen on Friday and I took that day off and by the time the movers were gone I had an hour or so alone until the other five arrived to help me settle in. The women volunteered to handle the kitchen and us guys rearranged the furniture until I was satisfied. When he had the chance Mark gave Sara a hug and said, "You've noticed I'm sure that the weather is getting very nice now." Kay slapped his arm again and Sara just smiled at him. Mark was right though, the day was near for our bet settling car wash. We were done getting me settled or at least the basics were done but the picture hanging and the new window treatments would have to wait a week or two because we had reservations for a free steak dinner. All of us changed and we drove into town to Judson's steak house. I had to admit my real estate agent knew his restaurants.

After the big move in day I picked at hanging pictures and then with a lot of help from a window treatment company I solved my curtain and drape problem as well. The weather was no longer an obstacle so when I saw that the weekend was sure to be warm and nice I told Sara that it would be show time come Saturday and then invited the others to join us around four o'clock.

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