I STILL LOOK FOR YOU - PART 18
Lynn pulled into the lot, parking near the office. So this was the complex she might be managing she thought to herself, trying not to be intimidated by its size. Two hundred and fifty-six units compared to the combined total of one hundred thirty-five she managed now, it seemed too much to consider. She would have an assistant manager and a staff of maintenance workers to supervise as well. She noted the grounds were well kept and the exterior of the buildings looked to be kept in good condition.
Inside the office she was greeted by Frank Goshen, from HUD, and the current manager, Steve, who stood a formidable six foot two and appeared to weigh in around two-hundred seventy-five pounds. Frank was a good sized man himself and at five-five and a hundred and twenty pounds, she felt like a china doll standing next to them. After brief introductions, they began the tour. She noticed Steve nodded or waved to most of the tenants they ran across but didn’t see many reciprocate. There seemed to be quite a few University students if the back-packs and harried looks were any indication. This complex was subsidized by two different programs, the apartments actually contained two complexes within one. She dealt a similar situation, the difference being the more heavily subsidized apartments being at a separate location from where she now lived. She mentally ticked off any similarities reassuring herself she was qualified to take on this job.
They went through several buildings, the laundry areas and playgrounds. The interior of the apartments were not as spacious as either of the set she managed but the make up of the population was different. There were many singles and couples with no children. All of her tenants were made up of families other than twelve units that were set aside for elderly singles. After six years, she knew the tenants names, amount of rent and how many children they had by heart and there were few turnovers except for the ones she evicted. Their rents ranged from $12 a month up to $400 for those with little subsidy. Steve told her here the only semi-stationary rents were those of the Section 8, the deeper subsidized apartments.
As they traveled through the maze of buildings, she started noticing a slight deterioration of both the grounds and the building exteriors. She observed without comment as they started to enter one of the buildings that sat on the perimeter of these that were less tended. The exterior had been painted within the last couple of years but over the peeling paint from before. There was rotted wood around the soffits and many bare spots where grass should have grown. While the other apartments had separate entrances, this building had a common hallway and was two stories tall. Even the bank of mail boxes was old and in disrepair. Inside, dirty, frayed carpet lined the hallway. The walls held cobwebs in their corners and the handrail to the second floor looked as if a good breeze could knock it over. Steve pounded on the second door to the right of the hallway and yelled, “Manager!”, while inserting a master key in the lock and pushing the door open.
“You don’t give a person time to answer their door?” Lynn was angered by his lack of respect.
“Yeah, I have all day to wait for these fish-heads to shuffle over and let me in”, Steve’s reply and laugh had Lynn looking at Frank who showed no reaction but followed inside. The apartment was well kept but sadly lacking in basic repairs and upkeep. Cracking floor tile was scrubbed clean and a couple of pictures were hung on walls that hadn’t seen paint anytime recently. Lynn waked over to the small window in the living room area and looked out. She spotted what she wanted to see next.
As they left the cramped apartment, the men started up the stairs but Lynn was heading outside calling over her shoulder, ”Over here! I want to see these buildings.” She deliberately headed quickly in the direction of the site she had seen from the window, ignoring Frank’s protest. It was hard to believe it could look any worse but the closer she got, sure enough, it did. Graffiti made its home on the brick building and without challenge had spread onto the broken cement area that held the remains of a playground. One swing dangled from a chain hooked on one side and connected by a homemade attempt to secure the other. The slide was rusted and sat at a peculiar angle from the ground as if a high wind had tried to blow it over but hadn’t quite succeeded. Lynn turned on them, ”This is HUD property?” She was angry and loud. “Don’t they do inspections? How can this property pass city code let alone HUD standards?” A low laugh came from a group of people gathered outside the nearest building.
“You tell them girl! Ain’t nobody come up in here IN-specting nothing but how we run our business,” a tall black woman about Lynn’s age ground out her cigarette, looking at Steve like she could gut and quarter him on the spot. Lynn looked at Frank who was decidedly busy undoing the seat of the swing from the chains. He handed it to Steve and told him to get it replaced, looking proud of him self and asked if they should break for lunch.
Lynn refused the offer to ride with the men and followed in her own car. She had a list of questions for Frank but Steve had already impressed her with all she needed to know about him and how he had been caring for the property and its residents. A trip to the restroom brought her to the table midway into a conversation that made her skin crawl. The words, sand-niggers, gooks and beaners wafted into the air like the stench of rotten meat enveloped in haughty laughter. She tapped Frank on the shoulder a little harder than necessary and told him she’d call him.
Driving home, she felt the fury of their ignorance leave as the reality of who she was dealing with began to sink in. Frank was after the Spears for fraud but he was no better and she was sandwiched between their actions and his authority. She wouldn’t even consider the job Frank was offering but she was going to have to find some way out of this dilemma while keeping a steady income.
That night Bobby came over after Kurt was sleeping, anxious to hear how Lynn’s day went. He hoped it had gone better than his. He and Renee spent three long hours discussing the life she expected verses the life they could afford. Having never lived on her own she hadn’t a clue how much things cost and had never given a thought to picking out whatever she wanted with the use of her parent’s charge card. He tried writing a budget to show her how unrealistic her demands were but she pouted at first and finally demanded he would have to get a better job or work two if necessary. It had ended with her giving back the engagement ring she had worn for all of seven weeks. He didn’t know whether to cry from sadness or relief but tears did stream from his eyes that night as Lynn put her arms around him. They sat back on the sofa, holding each other like two frightened kids watching a horror movie. Just months before, they were each starting out in new directions, gaining ground on lives that held promise, not of fortunes or an address on easy street but a chance for stability, a shot at some normalcy that many take for granted. Now, the dull ache of uncertainty was returning.
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I STILL LOOK FOR YOU Part 19
- I STILL LOOK FOR YOU - PART 19
Morning sunshine, Tim, Traci and Kurt found Lynn and Bobby asleep on the sofa wrapped in each others arms and half covered with a throw. Bobby was the first to wake, in part because his brother didnt...
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