11 Reading it Later

Opening a cupboard in his dining area one day, Hans discovered that Peter had apparently made off with a set of expensive, etched champagne flutes. True, they had picked them out together at Cathay Imports, the import shop owned by John and Cathy Cabot who lived upstairs, and yes, Hans hadn’t missed them since but after all he had paid for them. So technically that made them his, not Peter’s. In hindsight, he regretted having walked out in a snit when Peter was packing up. For someone supposedly able to keep track of things, as Hans professionally claimed, his inventory of his own possessions was somewhat lacking. What else was gone that he hadn’t noticed?

Cathy and John Cabot, owners of Cathay Imports, a downtown retail shop

Cathy and John Cabot, owners of Cathay Imports, a downtown retail shop

Peter had left some of his own things, including that ugly French restaurant poster Hans had never liked. Maybe they could do a swap sometime. Strange that one could rehearse a reasonable and quiet conversation, only to find it unsustainable in performance. Especially with Peter.

Hans purchased many things when they were first setting up the condo, and when they’d gone on vacation together in Puerto Rico. Peter insisted – it would be his second trip to the island – that everything there was more expensive. They could get more for their money here. So they chose swimwear and towels, sunglasses, the works, and Hans had paid for all that too, so Peter would travel with him.

Depressing just looking at it all now, laying unused in the dresser drawer. He might as well use the beach towels as bath towels, as he never used the pool. He left the trunks where they were. But why hadn’t the swimmer, the light fingered Peter, taken all of this stuff?

When Peter moved out he’d taken his own car, leaving Hans with an empty, underground parking space: he’d never afforded a car. At least Peter couldn’t take away the condo that Hans had bought and titled in his own name. Then employed full-time, Hans qualified for a mortgage with very little paid down. That kind of financing was no longer possible, not since the recession anyway, with lending conditions changing so drastically. He had friends who’d bought and titled property together and since split up. Some of those properties were put up for sale. Some of those languished unsold. He was very glad to not be in those shoes, felt lucky. Smart, too.

The voice of Mrs. Hodges, his high school guidance counselor, popped into his head as she intoned one of her handy, hip pocket rules. ‘Never make a decision about where to go to college based on your current relationship.’ Perhaps the same rule should apply to purchasing a condo. ‘Never buy a condo with an uncommitted partner.’ In that sense, his was a narrow escape. Without Peter’s share to help pay the mortgage and the condo fees, Hans’ decision to leave a steady job to seek the freelance work he’d always wanted to try now gave him fewer choices and definitely limited his social life. Maybe not so smart.

Here he stayed, lonesome but not yet broken. He relaxed, spread out more from the confines of his corner desk, and soon the entire space began to seem like an office. He retrieved those condo docs to find out if there were any limitations to working in the building. chapter-11-readMost people did some work from home but his was full-time. The intent of the restriction was to prevent increased vehicle or client traffic into the building. You couldn’t run a doctor’s office with patients coming and going, for example. He might have an occasional work-related visitor but nothing on that order.

To cover his costs of living there, the newly elected treasurer was hoping to build up a reputation with residents, start up a new client base. He’d already agreed to do the association books, work previously farmed out, at a reduced rate. No conflict of interest there. He was simply managing association expenditures.

He put a flyer under every unit door at the POPS advertising his services to do taxes or any other accounting work for residents, offering the ease of his going to them, eliminating the tiresome moving around of paperwork. There was the typical reluctance at first to share personal financial matters with a neighbor. That hesitation was overcome by his manner and credentials, and by the convenience he provided.  One client told him that her former tax preparer had moved out to Waukesha County. She, understandably, thought it would be easier to simply open her door to Hans than to drive that far back and forth with folders of receipts.

But without a car himself, Hans had to be well organized. Even simple errands took longer on foot. He walked a great deal but at least it broke up his day. Sitting all day glued to his chair might be an aid to his concentration but it certainly wasn’t good for his health. Life wasn’t so bad; it could be worse.

*   *   *   *   *   *

“Where’s that hunk boyfriend of yours?” Kitty Doyle asked Hans. They lived on the same floor. Waiting for the elevator, Hans grimaced, grateful that it was only a one floor ride down with her to the lobby.

Must have left him. Maybe he really has no ‘pupich’, Kitty surmised by Hans’ silence. Too bad. That boyfriend of his was eye candy.  She preferred to think of herself as eye candy too, exactly as she was. Her boyfriend, Greg, was always trying to fix her, change her, take her apart bit by bit to do a remix of his own, to make her into what he wanted. He should concentrate less on changing her and more on fixing those brats of his, his precious little flower girls with their stupid little flower names.