The Simple Life
I glanced at my watch impatiently. The couple was to have met me 30 minutes ago. Where were they? Traffic was unusually calm for a Sunday afternoon. The White Sox were playing an away game at the Yankee Stadium in New York. There weren’t any major conventions gathering either. Just like a well to do couple. They made their own time.
Finally, Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy came through the door as if they were arriving early.
“Mrs. Becker,” said Mr. Kennedy through his enlarged nasal. “How are you this fine afternoon? You have simply got to have dinner on the Ecstasy Yacht with us sometime! It is simply rich!” His raving review hardly won me over considering my supper had consisted of a yogurt and veggie sticks while waiting on them.
“It’s absolutely divine!” His diamond bedazzled young wife chimed in, adding to my disgust.
“Are you two ready to go apartment hunting? I have got two apartments and a studio flat that are just your style. We’d better get going before it gets much later don’t you think.”
“Oh yes, lead the way Mrs. Becker.” Mr. Kennedy replied with a care-free wave of his hand while holding the door open with the other.
The deep burgundy Towne and Country shined like they never drove it in the city. Why would this couple want to leave their mansion in the suburbs? The people I met in real estate never surprised me anymore. I had been doing this since graduating Business College.
Jeff and I met while I was studying to become a Business Accounting Major. He was finishing his BA. A job in an affluent firm opened up for Jeff here in Chicago, so we stayed, for 20 long years. I was ready for a change.
“Mrs. Becker, sorry to interrupt your daydream there, but where are we heading first?” Mr. Kennedy cleared his throat. We were still in the parking lot.
“My gracious! I’m sorry!” I replied with the red of embarrassment creeping up my throat and to my cheeks. “We’ll start on South Shore Drive, going towards the Lincoln Park Zoo. I found an adorable studio flat near Navy Pier looking out to the lake.”
“Oh! Darling! I bet it is going to be simply gorgeous!” Mrs. Kennedy exclaimed, waving her diamond laden hand effortlessly.
We turned a block off the Navy Pier exit and then entered a secured underground parking garage. The parking guard slid a security card beside the elevators wall and we got on. The flat was on the 20th floor but the elevator only went to the 17th. Here we exited and I showed The Kennedy’s impressive amenities that the building offered which included a heated pool and sauna, and exercise room with personal trainers available for a service fee that was added to the regular monthly service charges. There was also a library, and an elevated running track which looked down on the pool. They were delighted with the extras. We got on a service elevator from there and I put in a key, explaining to the couple that this was an added safety measure. No one could get to the remaining two floors without a key to make the elevator serviceable. When we got to the 19th floor, I pulled back the iron gates of the elevator on the backside of where we had gotten on.
“Remember, this a 2-story flat, so this side is one and the other one behind us is another flat. The keys are different. Now, just insert into the correct slot. Insert the key again and the door will slide open with a little effort.” We all stepped out into a vast space. One whole side was lined with floor to ceiling windows that looked out over Lake Michigan. “The former owner was
an artist as you can see in the open layout and the colorful painting on the walls. The kitchen has new stainless steel appliances and heavenly gray granite counter tops.”
The Kennedy’s loved the place! One space flowed into another with deep gray and black textured granite tile from the kitchen slowly blending to the medium gray cement flooring covering the rest of the space. We wondered to the bedroom walking up black iron circular stairs. The heels of our shoes echoed in the immense space around us.
The upper level was no less spectacular than below. It was covered with solid white granite floor tile and a beautiful abstract of two lovers covered one side of a brick wall. I imagined that this was where a master bed went, for it would be the perfect spot. One could look out at an identical set of picturesque windows as the lower level. The rest of the brick walls were left in their original off shades of red with aging white mortar. Mrs. Kennedy absolutely loved the master bath. It was tiled in shiny red with a double vanity and antique chrome fixtures. The bath was a Jacuzzi tub, and had a separate walk in Swedish shower.
“Well Mrs. Becker, I don’t know how you are going to top this one.” Mr. Kennedy commented.
“We’ll see. The owner is asking $2.1 million, but will except $1.9 in cash. As you can see by the exquisite artwork around the place and the new kitchen, it well worth the price for the location. So what do you think? Ready to look at another.?” I really thought they would balk at the price. I was wrong; millions were just pennies to these people.
“Gerald, I think the place is lovely! Ginger Poo would love it! Can we offer and wait to see what happens before looking at the rest! Please darling. My feet are killing me and I just know how much Ginger Poo is missing me!”
“Well, Mrs. Becker, that settles it then. This is Bonnie’s anniversary gift from me to her you know. As the saying goes, ‘anything the wife wants, she gets.’”
“Living in your ex-wife’s home just feels so creepy! Everything is decorated in heavy mahogany and old like she was.” Bonnie Kennedy wrinkled her nose in fiend disgust.
It was almost comical really, seeing this 60 year old guy with a 20 something wife. You watch these relationships on television, but until you see them, you never realize how funny the interaction between the two is. At least now the question about the beautiful mansion had been answered. So I got the papers out of my brief and we agreed to a cash offer of $1.6 million. They dropped me off at the nearest CTA station and I began my long journey to the Norridge Suburbs where my husband, Jeff and son, Martin were already settling into their nightly routines.
Jeff would probably be asleep and Martin, our night owl, would be glued to the computer and on Facebook chatting with his many strange friends. It’s not that I wasn’t acquainted with all of them. We were very strict about contacting each adolescent’s parents with whom he made connections. We talked either over the phone or coffee, if they lived in the Chicago area before Martin was permitted to chat away.
I know, it sounds almost neurotic. The way the world was with cyber-bullies, drug dealers and sexual predators, we believe you can’t be too protective of your own child. Some of the kid’s parents thought we were really strange. I thought they were just plain irresponsible. Usually those kids would end up deleting Martin off their friends list. It was no loss to him. Did they really care at his age? Martin’s 12 and I swear he has an anti-parent shield for his attitude or something.
I was just about ready to nod off on the CTA Train when some young man in a black
Hoodie bumped me as the train was coming to a stop. I immediately sensed my purse slip off my shoulder.
First of all, I’m dead tired from working all day, secondly, I am pissed that this young man thinks that taking someone’s hard earned cash is going to be that easy. I immediately shoveled into him, knocking the dirt bag to the ground between the seats. I always rode the first car when traveling on the train late at night. The engineer saw what happened and called for subway security before making his way to where I sat upon the jerk, fighting for the repossession of the of my purse.
He was secured to a metal post with handcuffs and I was gently pulled from the would be thief and persuaded to sit at a distance.
“Remind me never to cross you.” The engineer said with a twinkle in his eye. If I hadn’t felt so ridiculous at that moment, I could have smacked him. Suddenly, however, I had the gut wrenching feeling I was going to throw up.
“Hey lady, are you okay, ’cause you don’t look so good?”
I reached over the seat in front of me and heaved. I started to shiver violently. When CTA security came on the scene and they escorted me off the train with a woolen blanket draped around my shoulders, to the office. I was given some hot coffee and a police officer took my statement.
“Well Mrs. Becker, don’t be surprised if the press comes calling tomorrow. You captured the infamous “CTA Pick Pocket.” The guy has eluded us for the last 7 months. Guess he picked the wrong pocket tonight. The guys at the station are going to love this!.”
I finally grabbed a taxi from the station to the carpool lot where my car was parked in a garage near the beginning and end of my daily train commute. It was 1:30 a.m. by the time I parked my red Chevy Impala in our garage. Keying in the code to gain access to the mudroom, I flung my briefcase, purse and keys on top the dryer and removed my heels from aching feet. I zapped an instant latte and headed upstairs to undress and crashed, exhausted into bed. Martin heard me though and cautiously opened his bedroom door.
“You okay mom? I was about to wake dad, you were so late.” Martin certainly looked as concerned as his voice inflicted.
“No, I'm okay hon. Just chalk it up to another exciting day for this suburban mom. They caught the CTA Pick Pocket. Guess who wrestled him to the ground?” At this, I almost lost it because of the astonished look on Martins face. I only winked and gave him a quick hug before resuming my motherly role and reminding him it was way too late for a school night.
We said our good nights after he secured a promise to hear the whole story from me in the morning. My condition was that he had to be dressed and at the table before his dad sat down and joined us for breakfast.
The master bath was a luxury I intended to enjoy tonight, turning on the jets, hot water and adding a loving touch of lavender oil. Adjusting the temperature with the cold water tap, I slowly undressed and flicked on the flat screen and computer, keying to my favorite Gothic novel. Finally, it was my chance to relax. Sipping my latte, the day disappeared. Exiting sometime later, I dried off with an over-sized, luxurious purple towel, slipped into a negligee, and quietly stole between the sheets.
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So this is how it all begins. When is chapter 4 coming?