Contact email address is: Vanessa@HeavenlyManna.net
The following, although written as short-story fiction, are real events that actually took place.
LORD OF LANDLORDS
When Joel Michaelson’s phone rang Traci’s heart sank and she dropped her head in hopelessness. He’s gonna’ rent to somebody who’s got all the rent AND deposit. Traci sat with her head down as she listened to the conversation. Joel, speaking into the mouthpiece, turned and began to pace.
"Yes, the apartment is still available. Yes," he repeated bobbing his head and continuing to pace. "You can look at it later today or tomorrow morning."
Traci rested her hands on her lap and rubbed them together as she raised her head to look at Mr. Michaelson. She pursed her lips and loudly sighed causing Joel to pause his conversation and look at her. They held each other’s gaze, Traci’s heart pounding. Her eyes pleading. Please give me a chance. She was glad that she and Joel had had the chance to talk before the phone rang. At least he knows I have only a hundred dollars. It was a scary thought in light of the fact that the apartment rent was three hundred, eighty dollars a month, not to mention a matching deposit. And then Joel had said, "You also have to pay a portion of the heat bill and your own electric bill." As Joel spoke, Traci sat mentally calculating. Three hundred, eighty dollars twice. That’s over seven hundred dollars. Then I’m sure there is a deposit to switch the lights into my name.
After so many trips to the hospital with Danielle’s asthma attacks that month back in Iowa, Traci knew she had made the right move for Danielle’s sake. But what would happen to them now that they were facing homelessness? Joel talked and paced while Traci recounted the last conversation with Danielle’s doctor before making the decision to actually make the move to Colorado.
"Why does she suffer just as bad being in the hospital as she does if I keep her at home?" she inquired of Dr. Smith.
"All of the medications for Asthma are really formulated for kids twelve years and older. There isn’t really any prescription available for younger kids. We can make a more comfortable environment for your daughter here at the hospital while she rides the attack out than she’d have at home." He shrugged his shoulders and gave Traci a sympathetic look as he sat across from her holding Danielle’s chart. "I don’t know how feasible it is for you, but a move away from this climate would be most beneficial for Danielle."
"I’ll MAKE it feasible if it means she can run and play and not spend so much time struggling to breath. Where do you think we should go?"
"Arizona or Colorado are both excellent for asthmatics. And I can put you in touch with a good doctor in either location. It may take a while before you see improvement in Danielle’s health."
"Thank you, Dr. Smith."
That quickly, Traci’s mind was made up. They’d leave with the money from her next paycheck. There were no savings, only what they lived on from paycheck to paycheck.
Now, because of that hasty decision, Traci sat practically begging…no, begging to rent an apartment for which she had less than half the rent. The apartment cost more than the entire rented house back in Waterloo. The three days rent that Jefferson County, Colorado had fronted for emergency shelter at Lakewood Lodge had been lived up. If Joel didn’t let them have the apartment, Traci, her seventeen-year-old son, Jerry, along with his sister, would be sleeping in their l975 Chevy Vega.
Joel ran his fingers through his dark hair. How can I turn her out into the streets? While he paced and thought, the party on the other end of the phone was calling out, "Hello, hello!"
Joel looked at Traci, then turned and walked a few steps away. Once again, her heart sank. Suddenly, without turning back to face Traci, he blurted into the receiver. "The apartment has been rented." He hung up the phone and mumbled, "I must be crazy."
Joel, a six-foot hunk in the eyes of the average woman, had been ‘taken’ more than once on a hard luck story. He didn’t understand it himself. Why would anybody, especially a person who’d been burned before turn down cash to help a stranger?
Traci rose from her seat, her eyes misty and with a goofy grin on her face. "Thank you Mr. Michaelson. I promise you won’t be sorry. She flashed her eyes to the ceiling and whispered. "Thank You, Lord."
Joel didn’t respond. He turned and reached for a set of keys hanging on a hook near the stove. Upstairs, on the second floor he flung the door open and gestured Traci in, she suddenly went weak in the knees. It was the exact same apartment right down to it’s orange, shag carpet, that she had seen in her dream back in Waterloo, Iowa. Now, I know everything’s gonna’ be all right. This was meant to be.
Joel and Traci stood in the living room. Joel still having doubts. Of the ten tenants living in the twelve-plex building, only one was current with the rent. Everybody had a hard-luck story. But I have to listen to EACH person’s story and go with what I feel in my heart.
"How much did you say you can pay today?" Joel asked remembering that it was a ridiculously low amount that Traci had offered earlier in their conversation.
Before answering, Traci mentally considered what it would mean, if she gave every cent she had to Joel. "I have a one-hundred-dollar bill tucked away." She paused and swallowed. "But I’m on empty." Her voice was lower. "And I have to get gas to go to my temp job assignments." She lowered her head in embarrassment.
"So what are you saying; you want to keep part of the hundred to buy gas?"
"I’m saying I NEED to keep ten dollars." Even as she said the words she realized how it must have sounded offering ninety dollars for an apartment that Joel COULD have raked in seven hundred, sixty bucks for on that very day. There was silence for several seconds. Then Joel turned and took a step.
"Let’s look at the rest of the apartment. This is one of the bedrooms, and over here is…When the tour was over they returned to Joel’s apartment to do the paperwork. It seemed Joel was becoming more comfortable with his decision, which made Traci feel better, and not so much like someone who had made a really stupid decision. As she signed the Application and Lease, she thought, God takes care of babies and fools. She walked out to the car where Jerry and Danielle waited and announced the good news to them. They each grabbed a bag or box and headed for their new home.
Contact email address is: Vanessa@HeavenlyManna.net
What a great story! I can empathize with Traci as my youngest daughter struggles every winter. We have thought of numerous times of moving to a warmer climate, but each time God has wanted us to stay. Keep writing you have a gift!