Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Game of Life (09/11/08)
TITLE: The House on Baltic
By Joshua Janoski
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Bob laid his newspaper down and walked over to the window. Bob gently pushed Edith aside and peered out the crack. A silver Rolls Royce sat on the curb outside their home. “Relax, Edith. He never comes inside the house. He’s just making his normal rounds, you know, collecting his couple hundred.”
“Here we are forced to live in his slummy housing complex, while he lives like the rich and famous. Did you hear about the $10.00 he won in a beauty contest? How about the home on Pacific Avenue? I hate slum lords!”
“You’re coveting, Edith.” Bob scolded. “There are others worse off, like the poor folks living down the block on Mediterranean Avenue. Now that is destitute. Folks here on Baltic have it good compared to them.”
Bob maintained his optimism despite troubling circumstances. Once an engineer for the Pennsylvania railroad, Bob was injured and put on a meager disability salary. He and Edith moved from Indiana Avenue and into housing on Baltic Avenue in order to make ends meet. Edith frowned at the situation, but Bob kept smiling. He felt like he had to stay happy in order to counteract Edith’s pessimism and maintain a balanced marriage.
“We may be better off than the Mediterranean tenants but that doesn’t change the fact that everyone’s house is green, and all of the hotels are red. The contractor’s designs are tacky!”
“They are prefabricated structures, Edith. What do you expect?” Bob sat back down and resumed his newspaper reading.
The car drove off and the neighborhood got quiet for a moment. Soon, the sound of barking could be heard. Edith peered out the window again. A silver colored dog sat outside of the house.
“That dog is back again! I don’t know which I hate more, the barking of that little dog, or the noisy galloping of that silver horse rider that passes through here. Of course, it doesn’t matter what I think. Mr. Slumlord manages to collect rent from everyone that chooses to venture into his territory, permanent resident or not. He doesn’t care that they disrupt our peaceful existence.
Peaceful existence? Nothing’s peaceful with your constant complaining, Edith. Bob thought to himself while thumbing through the sports section. Edith skimmed the text of the police blotter.
“Crime is getting worse. Did you know that inmates can get out of jail now just by showing a card? It’s terrible! No longer do they have to do hard time. They can just present a card to the banker and get out free! I am scared for my life with all these hooligans running loose! We need to move into a better neighborhood again, Bob. There is an open position at the B.O. Railroad. You could work there, and free parking is just down the road, so you wouldn’t have to feed quarters into the meters.”
Bob looked up from his paper. “That railroad STINKS, Edith! My back still isn’t in great shape either, and besides, it’s owned by the same “slum lord” that owns our home. You sure you want me to work for him?”
“I heard that a deal went through and he traded the railroad for property on New York and Tennessee Avenue.” Edith said.
“Interesting,” Bob replied as he took some orange juice from the fridge.
Edith rolled her eyes. “That’s all you have to say? You’re not going to agree with the idea of returning to work?”
Bob’s retort was interrupted by the rumbling sound of a silver battleship pulling into the neighborhood. Bob and Edith ran out the front door to look at the massive vessel.
“How can it possibly get any worse?” Edith asked with a sob.
“This is how.” Bob said, while pointing up behind them towards a gigantic hand that was picking up their house.
A man jumped off the ship and walked over to the couple. “Sorry to break the bad news folks, but your landlord recently visited my employer’s ocean-side property on The Boardwalk. He stayed at the hotel and ended up not being able to pay his $2,000 bill. This property is being mortgaged. You’re going to have to find someplace else to stay.”
“These greedy men with their orange five hundred dollar bills are monopolizing our lives!” Edith screamed.
“Calm down, Edith. At least if we stay at the jail we don’t have to pay rent.”
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