Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GAMBLE (04/14/16)
- TITLE: The House Always Wins?
By Vince Martella
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“What was I thinking?” he mused.
The small split level looked like Frankenstein’s monster. There were parts and pieces dangling everywhere, and missing pieces where something should have been. Gutters hung like deformed arms and shutters like crooked teeth.
This was not what he envisioned.
A few weeks ago, the home looked like easy money; a sweet little corner lot home begging to be spruced up and flipped for a tidy profit. The restoration started out fine, but then went south very quickly.
“The sub floors in the bathrooms are going to have to be replaced,” his carpenter said. “Looks like the toilets have been leaking for years.”
“Don’t beat yourself up, Mr. Harden; you couldn’t have seen that with the vinyl still on.”
Case was good at beating himself up. Fact was, he’d given himself lots of reasons to do so. He had taken a lot of chances in the past and failed miserably. This house was his opportunity to show his wife he could be a better man.
But it seemed like the deck was stacked against him.
Every day, one of his contractors delivered bad news. The plumbers found multiple leaks. The tub in the master bath had a hairline crack and needed to be replaced. The electricians kept finding bad wiring. And where were the ceiling stains when he inspected this place? There were no indications the roof leaked!
Then the Homeowner’s Association showed up; Case had not used an approved exterior paint color. Apparently, they would be painting again.
The last straw came in the form of the County Inspector. The roof evidently drew attention, and before he knew it, the county shut the project down until Case could acquire the proper permits.
Case knew that rehabbing any house was a risk, but this house seemed to have it in for him. He was running out of time and money.
Case stared at the house and was reminded of a line from an old 1980’s movie. “Hey mister, are they testing missles out here?”
The call woke him out of sleep. He drove through the pre-dawn streets and arrived just as the firetruck was pulling away. Case stared, slack jawed, at the smoldering house.
“Is that yours?” a voice behind him asked.
Case turned to face a handsome young man in his thirties. A small crowd of people had begun to gather across the street.
“Yeah,” Case said. “I was trying to flip it. It seems like success just wasn’t in the cards on this one.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure,” the stranger said, a twinkle in his eye.
“What do you mean?” asked Case.
“Well, it looks bad, but the fireman got to it in time. A good disaster recovery crew can get it back in shape in no time. Is it insured?”
“Yeah, but I’m out of time,” said Case. “It’s time to fold. I guess you win some, you lose some.”
“I wouldn’t give up yet,” said the man. “I know a guy in the restoration business. He’d been restoring old broken down wrecks for years. He had a slew of them - and a competitor ready to yank ‘em all out from under him. He had everything riding on the line…”
Case searched the man’s eyes.
“Say, I didn’t get your name,” said Case.
“Jack Castle. I pastor the church around the corner. I’ve been passing by this rehab, watching the progress. The Lord has put a real burden on my heart for this place. I’ve been praying every time I passed by.”
Case cast a glance at the house again. “Well, it’s a little late for that now,” he said.
After a moment, he turned to Pastor Castle. “Hey, what about your restoration guy?”
The pastor smiled.
Case felt a glimmer of hope. “Are you still in touch with him?” he asked.
“Very much so,” he said. “In fact, I went to work for Him. You could say I’m in the restoration business too.” The twinkle in his eyes was back.
“You know, this house would be ideal for a parsonage,” he thought out loud.
Case looked puzzled.
“We have a restoration crew that goes to my church,” he said. “…..and so does your loan officer.”
He put his arm around Case.
“Why don’t you come back to church with me and have a cup of coffee? I’ll tell you all about my guy…”
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