A Victorian House of my Own
Melvin Clark Cross, –or just Mickey Cross as everybody knew him, was tired. He had spent the last three days packing, moving his furniture, from his apartment. He had liked the apartment, close to his school where he was about to get his degree after a long and grueling time juggling school, job and love life. Moving to the first home of his own was a great feeling for this almost 26 year old. It hadn’t been easy, like his two friends Bill and Bart Rice flaking out on helping him move, but the real reason was the still painful breakup with Carolyn Smythe, his supposed fiancée.
As he took one last look around the old apartment he once again, rehashed the whole thing with Carolyn, still trying to make sense of it. One and a half years of dating and wedding planning had flown by with very little drama. They had planned to stay in his apartment until he finished his last year at UCSF, then they were to start their life; he as an architect and she as a social worker.
Looking back, he had to think there may have been a red flag with her mother always referring to Carolyn’s old boyfriend as that ‘wonderful William.’ Maybe the mother’s insistence on inviting the boyfriend to the wedding should have woke him up to the fact; Carolyn wasn’t as ready as she professed.
Planning a wedding was supposed to be fun, even better when Carolyn’s family had offered to pay for everything. He couldn’t refuse, just barely making it with a part time job and being a full time student. With the Smythe family’s money and Carolyn’s mother’s wanting everything as ‘grand’ as possible, it should have been the best time of his life.
However, right before the rehearsal started, Carolyn had a melt down and fled to an empty dressing room at the hall. Being the concerned groom, Mickey did everything to assure her it was just nerves, just take a few breaths and it will pass.
Mickey thought she had calmed down, when Carolyn suddenly blurted out she couldn’t stop thinking about her ex- boyfriend. She was looking forward to his coming to town and was not able to stop wanting to see him.
Mickey being the gallant groom replied “What the hell are you talking about and why is this asshole even invited to the wedding.”
Call it a case of wedding nerves.
As can be imagined, things went downhill from there. Her mother now became the prospective mother-in-law from hell and her feelings for the old boyfriend, his family’s position (and money) came out in spades.
When the dust cleared, Mickey got the bills for the unused wedding and an unplanned chance to start all over. Carolyn got to pursue her repressed feelings for the old boyfriend, with her mother’s blessing.
Mickey started the U-Haul van, loaded with his possessions and his just purchased a five year old faded blue Ford Focus, hitched on the back. After the shock wore off, he had decided to finish school and pursue his dream of restoring a Victorian style home and live in it while doing so.
He was about to graduate, having spent a few years in the Army in Afghanistan; he was a little older than his school peers but also a little more fixed in his determination. He sold his prized restored 1968 Camaro, and gathered the money in his grandfather’s will. He went on the lookout for just the right old Victorian home overlooking the water (sort of), that any fan and student of architecture would dream of restoring. After all, he had plenty of spare time on his hands.
He found the ideal home in Sausalito, an old but pretty well maintained neighborhood, with mature trees, shadow boxed windows and front porches. Everything he envisioned a Victorian neighborhood should be.
He made an offer and it was accepted by the bank involved; even though there seem to be some question about the title and it was difficult to view, as the family being foreclosed on were uncooperative. It took some time to make the purchase but when the bank notified him it was done, he was ready to start over.
Mickey used the time to draw up plans for his proposed changes and gather all the money for the down payment and remodel. His job as an insurance adjuster with no other bills and the cash down got him approved but left him with about nine hundred and fifty dollars to his name. Nevertheless, he looked forward to this new adventure as night fell and he drove up to the great old house.
Mickey thought it very considerate of the realtor to leave a light on and hoped he had left a fruit basket, as he was starving. Carrying a box of stuff he headed for the door. With the uncooperative previous owner, he had only got to look inside once. He now saw it needed painting inside and a lot of elbow grease, rugs and real wood floor cleaned, but it had the old Victorian look he desired.
The key works, no need to replace that right away, he thought. Turning on the main room light Mickey started cussing, the whole damn place was still full of the realtor’s staging furniture. God damn it! He had to wait an extra three weeks over escrow details and they still didn’t get their crap moved out.
At the same time he noticed the upstairs hall light turn on and hears a female voice “What the hell are you doing in my house?”
Ever the gallant one, Mickey snapped back “Who are you and what are YOUdoing in this house? I just bought and have the deed to prove it!”
A really great looking girl, in her early twenties, with dark curly hair, came half way down the stairs, wearing what looked to be only an oversized T-shirt.
Over the next fifteen minutes with mutual shouting of “I am calling the cops,” Mickey determines the girl claimed to be the owner & resident, and wasn’t intending on going anywhere. Between shouts and pointed fingers, Mickey got out the papers showing the escrow closed two days ago.
They both still dial the cops!
Waiting for the first patrol car to arrive, Mickey breaks first and introduces himself and explains he is a senior about to graduate as an architectural major and bought the house as he is enamored with Victorian and did his senior paper on them. Chris eyes him for a minute, shrugs and tell him her name and that she doesn’t give a damn for old houses and why her brother bought it in the first place, she had no idea.
They both smile and while pretending to look for the cops to arrive, do their best to check the other out without being notices. The truth is each catches the other but holds their tongue.
After another hour with three neighbors taking up yard chairs, a wise and weary patrol Sergeant had them in separate rooms and calmed down. The Sergeant had taken the phone and talked to Mickey’s real estate broker and a not very happy bank loan officer, trying to eat dinner at home. They verified Mickey’s purchase of the property the bank had acquired by foreclosure on one Randall Wilkerson.
The Sergeant also examined what looked to be a legally recorded grant deed from Randall to a Chrystal A. Wilkerson, sister to the said Randall; recorded before the date of the bank foreclosure and resale to Melvin (Mickey) C. Cross. After consulting his duty commander it was determined that this was above their collective pay grades. They decided Chrystal could remain in the house, the bewildered and somewhat distraught Mickey Cross would have to find somewhere else to stay and the attorneys could have at it tomorrow at nine A.M., in the conference room of the district attorney. The fact that tomorrow was Saturday and the start of a three day weekend, wasn’t something he was going to bring up-his shift ended in another hour.
They OK’ed his staying in the U-Haul with the warning that one attempt to set foot on the property would mean jail time and got ready to wrap things up. As everyone started to head to their prospective places Chris, half way up the stairs, smiled and gave one last volley saying “That van is going to get cold tonight, so why don’t you just get your money back from the bank.”
Not to be out done, Mickey looking up the stairs, said back “if you always go up the stair in just that T-shirt, I’ll stay forever.”
Chris blushed bright red but continued walking slowly up the stairs, swaying ever so slightly.
The police sergeant sighed and remarked to his partner “I can get this crap at home, but not in that T-shirt!
Story by: Keith Robbins
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