It’s the first Friday of the month. Time for another fiction installment.
A link to this story, and all prior stories, can always be found under the “My Work—Freebies” tab.
Real Estate Realities
He had stopped the car in front of a ramshackle old diner. White paint peeled off the clapboard siding. Faded black stripes with white letters advertised:
CALIFORNIA LUNCH ROOM
It was a generic laundry list of days gone by, when pathetic patrons could stop in for a number of items ranging from greasy food to cancer sticks to outerwear. She couldn’t dream who would frequent such a place, but she had no trouble imagining why it closed. The overgrown pine in the corner only helped hide its embarrassment to the world. The dead potted plant at the doorway cemented her resolve.
“I’m not going in there, Justin.”
“How else are we going to know if we like it?”
“I already know. I hate it.”
“Come on, Sara. Look at the hidden potential. The front is almost entirely all windows. Think of the natural light.”
“So we can see the filth?”
He ignored her. “And it was a restaurant, so it should have a large kitchen.”
“And an inch thick layer of grease.”
“Here’s Carol. Let’s go check it out.”
Their real estate agent offered Justin a handful of papers. “I have the comps. Now that you aren’t looking at the coastal area of San Diego, I think you’ll find the properties more affordable.” She led them inside.
“This area was the patron space of the café. It can easily be converted to your main living space by removing the booths and tables. I’d replace the windows and doors, of course, and wall this area off to make the master bedroom.” She gestured to a recessed area of the interior.
“You mean there isn’t a separate bedroom?” Sara asked.
“None of the reno is done yet. That’s why this place is a steal.” Turning toward the bar, Carol continued. “This would have to go, but you could put your own eating bar in, and open this area up to your kitchen. It, like the bathroom, is fully functional, but would need to be redone.”
“Let’s check them out,” Justin said.
They walked through the kitchen and bathroom and walked back out again, trying not to touch anything.
“What about a bathtub?” Sara asked.
“When you redo the bathroom, the plumber can install one for you.”
“This is so not what I want,” Sara said.
Justin pulled her aside. “This is really all we can afford. We can renovate, install hardwood, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances. We’ll make it work.”
Carol approached. “I can show you something in the barrio, perhaps?”
Justin looked at Sara and raised his eyebrows.
Sara said, “I guess we’ll take this one.” She looked out the door through rusted security bars at the dead potted plant and wondered how long it would be before she too withered and faded.