The young Shimeks had peacefully resided in The Projects for nearly nine months before their names came up on another waiting list! The news came in the form of a simple letter from the office of Housing Urban Development. The letter succinctly stated they were approved for Section Eight subsidized housing, and the document came complete with a listing of approved dwellings. Renee was thrilled beyond words because it was like hitting another lottery! The correspondence literally caught her off guard, and the extraordinary news pummeled the inner recesses of her wildest imagination! It dawned on her that these homes were not only within her reach, but they were also within her grasp! She slowly realized her kids would have a yard to play in! Zane was dumbfounded! He was already in seventh heaven because he loved The Projects! He never really imagined things could get any better, yet the dream of a two-car garage had become a reality! The prospect had set his mind reeling! The hassle of picking up stakes and moving yet again was of no consequence to the ecstatic couple. It wasn’t a huge move after all; it would just be across town! And besides, Zane and Renee knew they could always depend on Charlie and his rig! The Shimeks had moving down to a science, and they were looking forward to this one more than any other!
It was a very exciting time, because Zane and Renee spent every free moment window shopping for prospective houses. The eager duo would dash across town at a moment’s notice to view a candidate that had recently been added to the list! They boldly parked in driveways of vacant homes as they commenced to inspect the grounds, peeking through curtainless windows, and inspecting gutters in the process. Some of the houses were in good neighborhoods, while others were not. It all came down to cost-benefit analysis. After careful deliberation, they whittled the choices down to a final cut. The common denominator was their proximity to nearby charter schools.
The house they fell in love with was a true gem! It was a flat roofed adobe with beige stucco and protruding vigas. The southwestern styled home was the centerpiece of a xero-scaped yard that was sculpted to an immaculate degree. The residence was well within walking distance from Albuquerque’s most acclaimed elementary school, and Renee was over the moon with grateful excitement. It was if all of her dreams were coming true. Her young husband would be compelled to agree! The garage was the answer to Zane’s unspoken prayers and its manifestation was wildly unexpected! To accentuate the good fortune, Renee performed a sacred cleansing ritual intending to remove foul, disruptive, stagnant energies from a newly acquired tool chest. She imbued upon it a force derived from the combined power of four pure elements. They burned sage and melted sacred candles, all the while focusing on kind intentions. Zane absolutely reveled in glorious anticipation of joys yet to unfold! The time was rapidly approaching when he would step foot into his very own shop! He envisioned his tools displayed proudly upon pegboard hooks, while various hoses and implements were neatly stowed under a generous workbench! His mind drifted, and he recounted too many occasions when maintenance was performed out in the sandy badlands! Gone were the days of wrestling around on dusty random ground, toiling with stubborn under-carriages of greasy rolling hulks! Instead of mucking around in the hard-packed dirt, he would easily glide upon steel wheels that would suspend a wooden mechanic’s creeper from freshly swept cement. He gleefully anticipated future oil changes, and brake jobs! Zane was about to become the proud owner of a parts cleaning solvent-wash, and he was looking forward to having his own air compressor! Zane was looking forward to the good life!
The elegant abode became known as ‘The Hoffman House,’ because that was the name of the street. The main entry way, which was recessed into a small rectangular enclave, leant out warm and welcoming vibrations. An ornate wrought iron screen concealed an impressive brown wooden door. The modest front yard was adorned with a section of perfectly manicured lawn that formed a gentle sweeping arc spanning from the corner of the property and into the driveway. The lush green grass was smartly divided from colored gravel in a way that suggested a professional installation. A fully grown majestic maple stood silent vigil at the southwest corner.
Charlie was presented with his first glimpse of Hoffman House on moving day. The crew arrived on location after a morning filled with hard labor. The truck and trailer were loaded to the gills, and the faithful rig sat quietly alongside of the curb while absorbing some mid-afternoon sunshine. The maple tree offered up an abundance of welcomed shade. Charlie and Zane were slurping coffee while making small talk in the front yard. They were tired but too proud to admit it! They were simultaneously searching for their second winds. To offer up some encouragement, Charlie suggested, “If we use the garage for a staging area, we won’t have to work as hard.” Zane understood his dad wanted the rig unloaded as quickly as possible, and he agreed.
Charlie was biding his time and sipping his coffee when his attention drifted towards the lush front lawn. He marveled over the 1/8th inch thick steel edging that separated the grass from the gravel. In an authoritative tone Charlie said, “That’s some heavy-duty stuff! Whoever did the landscaping went out of their way to do it Right!” Zane silently agreed and nudged his head in a gesture towards the southern property line. It was his way of inviting Dad to join him on a tour. Charlie understood Zane’s movements and followed his son towards the rear of the property. “This is a really nice place,” Charlie thought as he strolled down a path behind his exuberant son.
Indeed the property was a joy to behold! The men were greeted with rosebuds and grapevines as they ventured east alongside of the cinderblock wall that made up the property line. Protruding out, four feet from the wall, was a terraced garden that wrapped its way along the entire perimeter. Although the garden was xero-scaped in large part, luscious grapevines extended throughout! Rose bushes and perennials were strategically planted alongside of the robust vine system. The entire property was serviced by an automated sprinkler, which included an elaborate drip that irrigated the thirsty grapes. At the beginning of the tour, Charlie was so overwhelmed by the edging that he didn’t notice the sprinkler heads because they were so neatly concealed into the manicured lawn. “Is this a on drip system Son,” Charlie asked? In response Zane could only nod his head and grin! “That will make things a lot easier on Renee,” Charlie thought knowing she was the green thumb of the outfit. At this time Renee had captured Dad’s attention! She was often on his mind, but today her energy was profound. Because of this Charlie said, “You have really got it made Son!” In the moment he was Renee’s greatest champion as he proclaimed, “Renee is the best thing that’s ever happened to you!” It was a strange moment because the men rarely shared authentic emotions. However, on this particular occasion, Charlie could no longer hold back. “I love you Son,” he softly mentioned as their eyes met. “I need you to take care of Renee, because she takes good take of you!” Before Zane had a chance to respond, Charlie added, “I mean it Son…you have a nice family!” He couldn’t find access to the proper words, so the number-one-son responded with a warm smile. It was an awkward moment, and Zane didn’t know what to say. To alleviate the burgeoning discomfort, He gestured for the tour to continue, and his respectful father politely obliged.
A large glass sliding door provided a panoramic view of the back yard. The lawn that adorned it was land-scaped in a way that created a circular pattern which mimicked the front. Two medium sized aspens were strategically planted nine feet apart, and Charlie was first to suggest it was the perfect spot for a hammock! Neatly perched in the northeast corner of the property was a ten-by-twelve gardening shed. It was a perfect jewel of a thing, and neatly kept. “It will be perfect for storing bicycles,” Zane thought. Much to Charlie’s delight, he discovered Zane’s new shed came complete with its own gas-powered mower! The tool shed was solid and rigid. The door opened, closed, and shut tight! It was a far cry from the ram-shackle pole barn that Charlie was accustomed to. “Everything is finally going to be alright,” Charlie thought! The tour continued as Zane led his beaming father alongside of the northern portion of the house which boasted an impressive window garden. A privacy barrier was neatly constructed from pre-treated pine to block out the neighbor’s prying eyes. By this time Charlie was dizzy with delight, and in Zane’s mind the suspense was finally over! He tried to restrain his bursting excitement as he led Dad around the northwest corner of the house. It was time for a Coup De Grase when Zane pulled an automatic garage door opener from his hip pocket! “You’re gonna like this,” he said a with a quick flick of the switch! The two men stood staring as the brown door began its ascent. With a resistant groan the folding door started to rise as the men stood there in silence! Their eager eyes were shining like diamonds!
…to be continued
Fifty-Two-year-old, stay at home dad, philosopher, and recovering narcissist.