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 Tales of Dante Steele – Part 2: Moving

Serial Story
Well now, it was certainly an amazing thing how quickly Penelope had us back in town. She sped down those back roads so fast, the scenery wasn’t much more than a blur. I thought she took a different route, but she was driving so darn quickly, I wasn’t even sure of that.

The day had gotten quite hot by the time we reached her office. She asked me to sit down, and told me she’d be right back. A few minutes later, she came in holding a tray with two huge, old-fashioned, root beer floats. Well, I took one look at those floats and her big smile, and said, “What a great idea, darling! One of those is sure gonna hit the spot right about now.” She handed me a frothing glass, and took one for herself. We enjoyed them in silence, though I felt her watching me closely.

I did like the farmhouse, it was a little big – true, but it had so many possibilities! I could feel Penelope’s hope and expectation wash over me like a fisherman’s net - she did want to make this sale ...

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Penelope seemed to take such great pride in matching the ‘right’ home with the ‘right’ person, and I didn’t want to break her ‘perfect’ record. She was such a sweet little thing.

I did dicker the price a bit, assuming it was expected, and did manage to get it down by a full 5%! She asked if I wanted my lawyer to look over the Purchase & Sale Agreement, and showed me notarized paperwork indicating that the deed was free and clear. I’ve never much liked dealing with lawyers. Self-proclaiming know-it-alls, high priced fools shuffling papers between golf games, as far as I was concerned. So I told her I’d pass on the lawyer.

It sure didn’t take her long to get everything ready, once she realize I was willing to pay with a cashier’s check. I’d sold my penthouse before coming out this way, and I’d made a pretty penny on it, so no mortgage was necessary. A trailer with my furniture would be arriving tomorrow, and it sure would be a lot easier to move it in once into my new home, rather than having to put it in storage first. I guess Penelope was ‘right’ all along, this would work out perfectly! So I signed the papers, and since Penelope had power of attorney for the property, she was able to hand me the deed on the spot!

Dang, I felt good! I owned a farmhouse with ten beautiful acres of land. I could hardly wait, so decided to head back immediately. I bought myself a bottle of nice red wine and some take-out from the local diner – I was looking forward to my first meal in my new house. If I remembered correctly, there was even a couple of nice stools left behind in the kitchen – no eating on the floor for me!

While trying to retrace Penelope’s route back to my new place, I found myself cursing. Damn, I was positive she took a left at the Jones place, and I do remember her telling me it was the Jones place – so I tried to find that first. Why the hell don’t they just use street signs, I asked myself. I was pretty sure it was a red house on a green hill, or was it a green house on a red …naw – musta been a red house.

I was starting to realize that it would not be long ‘til it got dark, when I noticed a Bait Shop that miraculously appeared to be still open. I hadn’t been fishing in years, figured I could find out about the best spots hereabouts, and maybe the name of the road I was on, too.

I went in, but before I even had a chance to look around, a voice boomed out at me, “Want something? It’s late for a tourist to be out looking for bait.” I saw a man sitting behind a counter in a dark corner – the place didn’t appear to have electricity, so the only light was the little bit still coming in from a couple greasy, windows.

“Right…” I responded, “I’m just movin’ into the area, bought a place today, as a matter of fact. I was hoping there was good fishing ‘round here and was glad to see your place. Anyway, the thing is, I was only out here once with the realtor, a sweet young thing named, Penelope, and seems I’m having trouble finding the right road. It’s the old Campbell farm, I’m lookin’ for – could ya point me in the right direction? It’s getting late, and I’m kinda in a hurry.”

At least a minute or more went by and I was still standing there awaiting on a reply. The man just looked at me … though I did notice his face turned a pale kinda green. Then suddenly he reached below the counter for a moment, the thought crossed my mind that he was grabbing for a gun. I was wondering if he thought he had reason to shoot me, maybe I’d said something offensive or maybe he just didn’t like out-of-towners.

Thinking on it a bit, I remembered that I had said the word "hurry" - a concept that some seemed to avoid like a disease. I checked, and he wasn’t wearing a watch and there appeared to be no clock on the walls. His hand came up from below the counter, holding a pouch of tobacco, then he very slowly rolled himself a cigarette. Well, I didn’t get shot, but I also had no answer to my question - let alone a ‘How ya doin? - Welcome to the neighborhood.’

I decided to try once more, speaking slowly for a watchless man, "Sir, I'm looking for the Campbell place, I bought it this afternoon."

He contemplated his cigarette for a few more moments, then lit it up, still not even looking in my direction. He took two long drags, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Campbell place? We got no Campbell place ‘round here boy! I suggest you be moving on, ‘lessen you be wanting to buy some worms before you get out of these here parts.”

I was starting to feel annoyed, but it was getting darker out, so I gave him five bucks and asked again where the old folk’s farm was.

He stood , bringing all of his 6’5”, 300 pound frame to hunch over me menacingly in the low-ceilinged shack. “Boy,” he said, “I just gone an told you we ain’t got not Campbell’s ‘round here and never did. Let me give you some advice. Forget you ever heard of that place. Get out while you still can, boy. And don’t ever come back here. You hear me now?”

Then I saw the shotgun, within his easy reach… and decided that maybe I could manage without directions after all. I’d been expecting a little ‘Southern Hospitality,’ but sure didn’t get it here. I figured he must be some hermit nutcase or something, and with ten acres, I could mange to dig my own worms when I want to go fishing. Maybe he’d had his eye on the place, and I’d just beat him to it, that could tick off a local.

I drove a few more miles and saw that red house sitting on a hill, just before the last light of the day left the sky. The Campbell place – or rather The Steele Homestead, was only a little ways on.

Arriving, I got out of the car took a deep breath of moist warm air, took a proud look around in the darkness, then went on in. My fried chicken was cold, and the salad warm, but I figured the bottle of wine I brought along oughta make up for alot.

The food was decent, and after finishing about half my bottle, I decided to take another look around the house. I noticed a door upstairs that I’d missed when I’d gone through the place with Miss Penelope. When I opened it, I realized it was a stairway to the attic. Penelope hadn’t even mentioned an attic.

There was only one bulb still willing to light, but I went up anyhow and found a completely furnished child’s room. It looked and felt almost like the kid that owned it might walk back in at any moment. I decided to check out the closet, only to find what appeared to be a large laundry chute, now containing a long ladder. I laughed, thinking this was every kid’s dream – a secret exit from his room – sure coulda used one of those when I was a kid.

I decided not to try to make it back to the motel in the dark, and instead finished my bottle. The living room had a nice thick carpet, and I’d surely slept in worse places in my time. I think I fell asleep pretty quickly, though I did have some pretty strange dreams. When my cell phone rang and woke me, their memory faded, at least for a time.

The call was from the Joe, my mover, he was at that diner in town, waiting for directions. I left immediately, and in the morning’s light found my way easily, excited at how well things had worked out.

As soon as I walked into the diner and saw Joe’s face, I knew something was wrong. Turned out his partner had gotten sick, so he’d driven down himself, but there was no way he could lift the heavier furniture alone. I wasn’t too worried though, figuring with the high unemployment in the region, I’d have an easy time finding a couple guys wanting to make a few bucks on the side. The trucker followed me to my new home and parked, then we hopped in my little red corvette and headed back into town to hire some help.

I stopped in to see Penelope to see if she had any suggestions, but oddly, the realtor’s office was closed up tight. Joe tried asking around, without any luck. We met up again for lunch, I was very disappointed – seemed like no one in this town knew even one young man wishing to make some money for a day’s work. Very strange – I’d approached a couple groups of teens hanging out myself, and there was initial interest, until I explained the job.

Joe and I gave up for the day, I left a message for Penelope and we returned to The Steele Homestead. Something seemed different as we approached the house. I rushed in, expecting to find…well, I’m not sure what.

Hoooey, I thought as I looked around. No wonder we couldn’t find anyone to help – they musta all been up here doing it! Now that’s what I call Southern Hospitality! Believe it or not, every single item from the truck had been removed and placed in my home. What’s more, it was all was arranged exactly as I would have done myself, once I got around to it. As I looked closer, I was even more surprised. The boxes were all unpacked and neatly folded outside, my clothes were in the drawers, and even my toothbrush was in it’s holder, with a tube of toothpaste sitting next to it. Razor, shave cream, comb – all just laying there waiting…

I started feeling a little weirded out, did these new neighbors actually go through all my things?

Joe smiled happily, “Man, do you got some nice new neighbors! I outta talk to my old lady about moving down here too! … Well, since you appear to be all set, then I think I’ll be heading back.”

I paid him for the trip, and figured I could live with the neighbors seeing my underwear, it was pretty nice havin’ it all done. I hadn’t been looking forward to unpacking all this crap I’d collected over the years.

As I watched Joe drive off, an unexpected chill swept through me, and I had the strange thought for a moment that I should hightail it outta here immediately, but I shrugged it off and went inside ...

To Be Continued…

Click here for: Part 1 - The Realtor

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