A Fool's Errand - Part 3

Home improvementIn theory, the house they abandoned several months earlier ought to have sold already, and the proceeds from that sale should have been paying the exorbitant rent they owed every month for the large and luxurious place his wife had selected shortly after their arrival in Baltimore. Not that he had been consulted in the matter. Jimmy was just going along—getting along, as his mother put it—in much the same way he had for the past 25 years of their incomprehensible marriage. The recent loss of his job hadn't helped, of course. It had worsened an already volatile situation, tipping the balance of power even further in favor of Katrina's dictatorial authority. So when he was told to get on the next flight and do anything necessary to prop up their precarious financial situation, he was just following orders.

The trouble was, the house he and his family had occupied for so many years didn't belong to him. It belonged to his father-in-law, who wasn't exactly thrilled at the unexpected move. It meant he was stuck not only with the mortgage, but with the complete renovation of a large and very old house, followed by the responsibility for its sale in an increasingly soft market. It didn't help that his daughter had forged her mother's signature on a cell-phone contract just before she left, resulting in a $1,000 surprise in his mailbox a week later. She had done a similar thing to her mother-in-law years before. But it wasn't Ralph's nature—nor the teaching of the church—to keep a record of wrongs, and so he and his ailing wife had moved into the vacant house and commenced the renovation process, leaving the home they had recently purchased in another state in the care of neighbors.


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