Good intentions can lead to bad things. Keep reading!
“Well you said you wanted a fixer upper soo.” She looked at him with supreme sarcasm. “I always wondered what type of person would buy a property unseen. These auctions are full of suckers looking for a steal.” Once again she piled on the cynic criticism. “I mean don’t get me wrong, I love a bargain but c’mon.” Her husband took it in stride. This was part of her charm, but she wasn’t completely wrong. It was her money that he used to buy the property, but it was his idea to move across the state to live in Motor City. An honorable attempt to do his part in revitalizing his old neighborhood and curtailing gentrification. However, this wasn’t exactly what he envisioned.
“Ok, this isn’t the best situation, but look at the potential.” Thom outlined the property with his hands like a Price Is Right item. Lisa resisted the urge to punch him in his white teeth.
“Don’t you try to use your marketing magic on me. I know a shit hole when I see one.” She laughed.
The house had been weathered by time. Mold and mildew gave the exterior brick a vintage Victorian feel. Overgrown bushes and vines created a thick layer from the outside world.
“The numbers did look right on paper.” Attempting to convince herself that she made the sound decision of a professional accountant. The morning sun exposed a rusted green Ford truck on cinder blocks in the driveway. The doorknob was stuck from rust and grit. Thom gave the decrepit wood a swift front kick. His 250 pound frame released a cloud of dust and fumes into the air. A putrid stench worse than sewage invaded their nostrils.
“Oh Jesus.” Lisa swiveled her head to avoid a prolonged inhale. She stumbled back onto the porch, spitting whatever saliva she had in her mouth. “Fuck. Is there a dead body in there. That’s horrible.”
Thom covered his nose and mouth with his arm.
“Ohh, that’s strong,“ he muffled thru his shirt sleeve. They both retreated to the front yard.
“Just let that air out for a minute. I think I just lost some brain cells.” Lisa was adept at dramatics.
“I think I’m dying. Listen, just pull the plug OK. I don’t want to be a vegetable on life support. Save your money and enjoy your life.”
Thom ignored her theatrics. He leaned against the oak tree for support.
“I didn’t say this was going to be easy, but I promise you will love it when we are done.” He was the consummate optimist.
“My arms feel numb, I can’t feel my hands.” Lisa complained.
“Maybe you should put them down and walk around. Everything is going to be fine.”
“Oh thank God,” Lisa said as the cleaning company vans pulled up along the curb. She adjusted the bandana around her afro and rubbed her cute button nose. The cleaning team immediately went to work. Removing trash, extracting clouds of dust with industrial vacuums.
“I guess we can start clearing this forest down.” Thom grabbed the shears and handed them to Lisa. He took hold of the machete and playfully chopped away the branches. Hours had passed and it seemed like they weren’t making any progress.
“We’ll get back to this later, let’s start opening these windows, air this shit out.” The pair went around the four bedroom, three bathroom craftsman home forcing windows open; trying their best not to break anything.
“Mr. Ross, just wanted to confirm that we are not cleaning the attic, that wasn’t included in the contract. If you want us to service that we can, but it’s going to be extra, especially on these old houses, there can sometimes be a safety issue with the flooring.”
He felt Lisa’s eyes drilling into his head.
“No, we’ll take care of it. It’s a small space. We gotta keep our costs down on a tight budget.”
“Yeah, I get it. No worries. We should be done in 4 hours.” The supervisor walked away in a rush.
The cleaning crew finally finished the interior of the house. This first stage of cleaning made everything look 10x better. They had planned to completely demo parts of the home but that would happen much later after they saved some money.
“Home sweet home!” Lisa and Thom sat on the living room wooden floors, eating takeout Chinese and drinking wine out of the bottle.
“Isn’t this better than big city life? These floors are in pretty good shape.” Thom smiled claiming this as one victory.
“Yeah, they are pretty good. Just need to be sanded and stained, but definitely a keeper,” Lisa admitted.
Thom leaned in for a kiss, as if he was owed a reward. Their lips met with a loud pop. They laid on the blanket in each other’s arms.
“I have to say I’m starting to see the big picture, your vision.” Lisa confessed. She started to ramble about decorating this and painting that. Her inner design goddess was starting to appear. Thom laid back and fell into a deep satisfying sleep. He had won the day.
“Thom, did you hear that?” Lisa nudged him.
“No, what did you hear?”
“It sounded like it came from the attic, could be a rat or something. Can you just check real quick.”
Thom looked at his Applewatch, it’s two in the morning babe. I’ll handle it tomorrow.”
A loud bang shook the ceiling. “Yeah, I heard that.”
Thom jumped up and grabbed a broom and machete on the way upstairs to the attic. He handed Lisa the broom. She followed him up with her own flashlight in hand.
“See anything ?” she said from the bottom of the attic ladder.
“Nah, nothing.” Thom continued to search thru the attic.
“Hmmm, I guess this fell.” He shined the light on the small box. He opened the box to find pieces of a broken ceramic urn and a pile of fine dust.
“It’s nothing, just a broken vase. C’mon up.”
Lisa climbed the ladder and saw Thom hunched over a much larger box. The shipping label read
“42.393008, -83.248729. “
He opened the box to find vintage electronics. At the bottom he found blocks of cash; 100 dollar bills neatly saran wrapped. It was obvious this money had been here for a while, maybe decades. The green had turned a light brown and the edges of the paper started to deteriorate, it looked almost burnt. He looked thru the box to find a few dozen blocks.
“I think we should report this. I mean, someone is looking for this kind of money.”
“It’s a blessing, when you do good, karma works in your favor. Don’t worry.” He put his hands on her shoulder and smiled. “Look at it like this, this property has been on the market for years, so whoever that money belongs to has probably passed on to another life.
“Wait, wait a minute.” Lisa examined the money closer. The face on the bill was not recognizable.
“What president is this?”
Thom put the flash light on the face of the money, then peeled the layers of clear plastic from the money.
“Hmmm, that’s uh, that’s Aunt Jemima,” he said jokingly.
Lisa took another look at the money. “That is a black woman. What does this say ‘AEQUE DISTINCTA’ ?”
As she said it, the eyes in the face started to twinkle, iridescent almost. Lisa peered deeper into the pupils, it was mesmerizing, hypnotic almost.
“You OK ?” Thom lightly punched Lisa on the arm.
“Yeah, I’m here.” Her response delayed.
“What black woman would be on the hundred dollar bill?” She looked to her side then up, pondering what this meant.
“Let’s go to bed, I’m exhausted,” Thom said while yawning. Lisa followed him down the ladder still perplexed.
Without any window treatments the sun landed right on Thom’s face, making his caramel skin glow. He shifted on the comforter and rubbed his eyes to get a clear vision of Lisa.
“This is so crazy,” she said as she held the bill. Lisa had been up all night researching this strange money. “I mean, it says 2019, it says TUBMAN on the bottom. Right.” She was talking fast and her head bobbing in agreement with herself.
“What are we talking about,” Thom whispered. “Why are you up so early?”
She handed Thom the laptop displaying a digital cork board of news clippings, Wikipedia leaks, and photographs.
Thom sat up and leaned in. He rubbed his eyes once again and rubbed his curly short hair furiously.
“Okay. Where did you find these ?”
“Online; CNN, MSN, Wikipedia, The Root. I mean credible sites. It’s real.”
“Yeah, I see, but I thought Harriet Tubman was supposed to be on the 20? “
“Keep reading, you see the pictures ?” Thom’s eyes widened, he couldn’t believe the caption he was reading.
‘Former president, Barack Obama visits Detroit hometown after economic boom.’
Thom looked at Lisa with confusion. She jumped up and started pacing, rambling about redemption, reparations and revolution. “It’s about time. What a time to be alive. And the meek shall inherit the Earth.”
“OK babe, calm down. Easy, let’s not jump to conclusions and delusions.” Thom continued to browse the research. He typed in his favorite website, The Onion. They specialized in sarcastic, off brand news.
'Kanye West has decided to run for the top position at the U.N.. He’s announced everyone on his campaign has to be of European descent.’
“What in the world ?” Thom stood up and started pacing with Lisa. They were interrupted by three loud thumps and the monotone doorbell.
“Cleaning service. Mr. Ross.”
“Good morning Javier”
“Good morning sir. We came a little early, wanted to complete the job today. Sorry for waking you.”
Thom turned his back before he could finish.
“No problem,” he said under his breath whilst waving his hand to come in.
“It’s been an interesting morning. Hey Javier who is the president of the United States ?”
Javier paused, was this a trick question or bad joke.
“Trump,” He said hesitantly.
“OK, just making sure.”
Javier walked away with a half fake smile, as if he didn’t understand English.
“Thom,” Lisa shouted from the kitchen.
Lisa handed him the laptop.
“Who the hell is this ?”
A photo of a beautiful Hawaiian women and a man that strongly resembled Barack Obama in a more than friends embrace.
Thom stared at the screen.
“This is soo weird,” Thom said.
“I can’t fuckin’ believe this, not Barry. I’m going out. I need some air.”
Lisa stormed out of the house, enraged, and walked down the block.
“Yas gurl, I can’t believe he would do this to Michele” The tears mixed with sweat streamed down her face.
“Look it up, it’s online.”
“What’s online, the photos?” Sharon said
“Yes, type in Barack Obama.”
There was a long pause.
“I’m not seeing anything. What website specifically did you see these photos?”
“I don’t remember, but it was everywhere, People, US, BET.”
“I’m not seeing anything. Send me a link,” Sharon mumbled trying to hide her lack of lack of tech ignorance.
Lisa opened her phone browser and searched for the photos. She searched for 5 minutes then 10 minutes.
“Let me call you back.”
She kept searching, there was nothing, nada, zilch. This Hawaiian woman didn’t even come up in any searches. She typed in Harriet Tubman and the image of her big face was on the 20 dollar bill.
“What the?” She put the phone in her pocket and ran home.
She walked in the house and immediately searched again. The photos provided confirmation that she was losing her mind.
Thom slowly approached her.
“You OK ?” Thom said following her onto the porch.
“I’m losing it.”
She handed Thom the phone.
Thom refreshed the page. It went black and a 404 error flashed. He typed in several searches, Tubman 100, Kanye U.N., Barack Hometown. There was nothing that made sense, like someone erased history.
“Where did it go?” Thom went into the house to get the laptop. He slowly walked towards the door while looking at the mysterious photos, as he walked out of the house, the screen went black and the dreaded ‘the website could not be found 404 error’ popped up.
He stepped back into the house, hit refresh and the photos appeared. He stepped out again, then refreshed they were nonexistent. He sat down next to Lisa. They both were dumbfounded. Not sure what to make of this.
“OK, you got me. Ha ha. Nice one. Don’t know how you did it but it’s a good one.” Thom laughed mockingly.
Lisa’s face was blank. “I didn’t do this. I wouldn’t even know how to.”
Thom laid back. He was hungry, fatigued and puzzled, but at least Lisa was as confused as he was.
“It’s something to do with the house or the Internet provider. Maybe we’re on some super high speed connection, quantum fiber optic. I don’t know what I’m saying. None of this makes sense,” Thom blurted out.
Lisa didn’t say a word, which was unusual for her.
“Let’s go inside. I have an idea.”
They sat in the living room floor.
“Type in Lisa Ross.”
They looked at each other when the results came up.
‘The first black female commercial pilot has been campaigning tirelessly for the highest seat in the military. The West Point graduated, who also earned a Master’s degree in Physics from MIT, has been appointed to secretary of defense.’
Lisa laughed hysterically. “ So I’m in the military. What in the world is this ?”
They typed in Beyonce as a final litmus test. This would prove or deny what they conjectured.
‘CEO of BET International, Beyoncé Knowles, tops Forbes list for fourth year in a row.’
“Jesus Christ, who the fuck runs the world now,” Lisa said.
“It’s the house, it’s the house. It must some kind of special connection. I bet if we go outside, this will all disappear.”
They walked out the house and refreshed the page. Beyoncé, Blu, and Jay sat together on the luxury yacht. Evidently enjoying their Italian vacation.
They slowly closed the front door and went up into the attic.
“This money is worthless outside of these walls.”
“Well maybe not, couldn’t we buy stuff online in the house? “ Thom pondered.
“And pay with cash? How does that work?”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
“I’m going to try to email somebody. Why don’t you try to call somebody.”
“Emails aren’t going thru. Sharon’s phone is going to a Jamaican restaurant,” she said with disbelief.
“It’s like we’re in a totally different Internet in the house. Access to another life or a different world where we are different people. A parallel universe.“ Thom couldn’t even believe the words that were coming out of his mouth.
“Let’s setup an Internet Café for a select few. “
Lisa’s eyes got big. “We could make a killing, $100 an hour. I could see it now , ’Get a view of the other you? I like it!” her excitement was contagious.
“We could be rich with this. “ Thom voice was elevated now. His mind already swimming in money.
Days went by as they jumped head first into this alternate reality. Looking at all the relationships and events happening around the world. Trying to evaluate this Internet 10.0.
“Wow, it looks like I’m a wealthy reverend in Alabama. I have a megachurch. Here look.” Thom handed Lisa the computer.
“But who’s this woman. You know what, I don’t even want to see this. I can feel myself getting upset with you about what you done did in another lifetime.”
Lisa gave him the laptop back.
“I guess for now we can setup two rooms for browsing, with refreshments and finger foods all included in the $100.” Thom said trying to change the subject. “You know I can sell the shit out of this. I had some lucrative side hustles while at Michigan. This can work.”
Thom rubbed his face, brainstorming a marketing tag. “Stop wasting time trying to figure out what you should be doing with your life. Take a look at what you are doing.”
“I’m so excited. I can’t wait for you to experience this.” Lisa said bursting with energy. “I guarantee it will blow your mind.”
She escorted the old oil tycoon to the private room.
“Have a seat. Here’s your headphones. Basically, search anything you want to know about the world or your alternate self.”
In an adjacent room, Thom was setting up a black teenage girl. “I’m pretty sure I don’t have to explain how to use a computer or the Internet. It’s second nature to you Gen Z kids. Browse whatever you want, search yourself and family members if you want. But don’t be surprised by anything you find. Remember, this is not the world you know.” Thom paused and stood up straight with pride. “Welcome to Virtual Actuality, there’s some refreshments and snacks on the table. Let me know if you need anything.”
He walked out of the room to meet Lisa in the hallway. They gave each other a high five.
“We’re booked for the day, until 7 pm. That’s $2400 for the day.”
Thom smiled and walked into the newly furnished dining room.
“We’ll have enough money to buy another house in this neighborhood by the end of the month.”
Thom heard a raucous in one of the rooms.
“I can’t believe this shit. “ the old man laughed louder than expected.
“Why? This could have been my life? Really?” he said while pointing to the screen. His frustration noticeable on his face. “Where did I go wrong?”
Thom couldn’t respond to his desperate plea for an answer; there simply wasn’t one.
“No worries, everything worked out the way it’s supposed to be. Look at this way, that guy, the other you is probably saying the same thing. The grass is always greener on the other side.”
The old man struggled to get up from the plush leather chair.
“I guess so,” he grumbled and hobbled out of the house.
The young girl came out of the room.
“Did you know there’s a transport company that will send stuff from their world to ours. It’s supposedly regulated by the government, but privately owned. Here, take a look ?” she walked back to the room her wide hips barely fitting thru the door.
“Woah. That would explain the boxes. That’s probably how they got here.”
“Well this was fun, I guess I should go back to college and study photography, in my other life I’m world renowned and super rich. See you guys later.” She happily skipped out of the house.
“Fuuccck.” the large man was livid as the dust ran thru his fingers. He had hoped to keep his wife remains intact during the transport, but it didn’t work. His black skin was sizzling and eyes blood shot red.
“What was that ?” Thom and Lisa looked up. Thom pulled down the ladder and slowly climbed up to the attic.
“Hello ?” Thom yelled out. “Who’s up there?”
“What happened to my money? Who the hell are you? Get out of my house.” Micheal’s burple skinned puffed up and blistered as he spoke.
“We’re coming up, be easy.”
“This is my house. Do you know who I am ?” his voice trembled and his body quivered.
Thom and Lisa looked at each other.
“I own this city, matter fact I’m a multi billionaire. So not you or the government or anybody is going to stop me.”
“Okay brother, calm down. We’re just wondering what you want ?”
“What do I want, shut your ignorant mouth. My wife is alive over here, that’s what I want and I need to get rid of this garbage version of me she’s with. I can and I will. It’s taken me almost 10 years but I’m here now.” He laid out on the floor as the pain overcame him.
“I’m going to need your help.”
“Yes. Hello, Michael. We have you down for tomorrow 10am. Can you confirm?”
“Who is this ?” Michael said with doubt.
“You will receive a text with the address. Please don’t be late.”
Thom ended the call and stared at his phone.
“Once he’s here, I’ll take care of the rest, “ Michael said.
He sat back in the plush chair, both arms wrapped in gauze.
“Hey, when I’m settled I can give you some compensation, for your troubles,” Michael said. “How does a million dollars sound?”
“Yes. Sounds good.” Thom and Lisa quickly replied.
“Once we set him in a room, we are going for a long drive. The less we know the better. Please be done by the time we come back,” Thom demanded.
“Calm down, motherfucker. I’m running this.”
Michael came to the house at 10am sharp.
“Ok, we have you set up back here.” They escorted him to the room in the rear of the house.
“We’ll be back in a few. Good luck.”
“This is awesome man. I’m so excited. I don’t even remember making any kind of appointment. Have you guys every looked up your other life?” Michael asked without looking away from the screen.
“Yes, of course we have. But we have to go. Feel free to help yourself to anything on the table.” The couple scrambled to the door and into the car. Michael continued to look into his own personal window of virtual actuality.
“Wow, that must be nice.” The discovery was more depressing than motivational. Michael discovers he is a billionaire tech mogul on the other side, well respected and elusive.
The hypodermic needle pierced his neck with no effort.
“Shit.” he snapped his head back, grasping his neck before he hit the ground. The laptop would eventually go into sleep mode.
“It’s all taken care of,” Michael said as they walked into the house. “I’m heading home now. Give me a couple days to get you the money.”
Michael, dressed as his former self, walked out of the house and into a blue Honda Civic.
“I hope we don’t regret this, “ Lisa said under her breath while looking at the sedan disappear down the street.
They stared at each other. “We need to stop this and buy as much property on this block as possible, rent out the houses and be easy.” Lisa said.
“Yeah, that makes sense. I just hope this doesn’t trace back to us. I mean, this is our house.”
“But how? “ When it came to money Lisa was the optimist.
“The truth always come out, I think we need to be prepared for the worst. What if somehow the police find out about the business? You know we’re not zoned for this,” Thom said.
“We didn’t do anything illegal. Where’s the evidence? Where’s the body. Gone.” Lisa clapped her hands as if she was doing a magic trick.
“Yeah, you are really putting a lot of trust in this guy. We don’t even know him. He’s filthy rich, what’s to say he won’t just kill us and keep it moving?”
“Because we know his secret,” Lisa retorted.
“That’s even more of a reason to get rid of us. I have an idea. Let’s send an email to the authorities on the other side that Michael was murdered.”
“No, no, no. That just gets us more involved in all this shit. Let’s chill out and see how everything plays out. We’re already in this, let’s not get any fuckin’ deeper.”
Their minds were racing. The house was eerily quiet that night. You could hear the street lights buzzing.
Michael took a deep breath before he opened the door to his new old home. “Hey honey, how are you ?”
He stood there in disbelief. He had dreamt of this moment. Seeing his beautiful wife, healthy and full of life. He got close and gave her a hug like a long lost friend, lover, and partner.
“Ok. I could get used to this affection.” She pulled him in closer. “You seem different, have you been working out ?”
Michael didn’t answer right away.
“yeah, yeah. I’ve been going to gym during the day. I don’t want you running off with some young hot guy.”
“Honey, don’t be ridiculous. You’re the only one for me. Here sit.” She put a plate of baked chicken, yellow rice and asparagus in front of him.
“Oh, you cooked?” he asked surprised.
“Yeah, why do you seem shocked? I cook everyday.”
Her cell phone ringtone was Celine Dion.
“Since when do you like Celine Dion.”
She looked at Michael with confusion.
“Mike are you OK? You’re acting strange.”
“Hey mom ?” she spoke into the phone.
Michael was sure his mother in law was dead. This was one part he was not looking forward to.
“Yeah, he’s here. I think. He’s a little weird today.”
Lisa talked on the phone for a minute then ended the call.
“Mom says hi.”
“Where is she ?”
“Home. Where else would she be?” she grabbed the plate.
“Is the food OK?” she asked looking at the half eaten meal.
“Yeah, my appetite is a little off.”
“OK. Let me know if you want something else.”
Michael sat back in his chair. He looked around the room. The decorations were hideous. Wallpaper from the 40s, elaborate flower patterns and bland colors. Figurines in China cabinets and a sick collection of cats. Dozens of cat paintings, photos, sketches, puppets, and pillows. They were everywhere. He sunk deep into that chair and looked his wife up and down. He realized this wasn’t the woman he married. She was timid, submissive, and old fashioned. Just the opposite of what attracted him to her years ago.
“Here honey, your favorite.” She handed him some tea, but before he could grip it, the hot beverage spilled all over his arm and pants.
“Shit,” he screamed.
His wife jumped back, as if anticipating a slap to the face. She dropped to her knees to clean up the mess.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so stupid.”
It became obvious she had experienced some domestic violence at the hands of the other Michael.
He stood up and went into the bathroom. He stood in front of the mirror contemplating the situation. He figured he would give it some time. Maybe he could learn to love her again. Maybe even train her into the woman he always wanted. The little cherubs dancing on the wallpaper wasn’t giving him any motivation or hope.
“OK.” He splashed some water on his face and walked into the kitchen. His attempt at this life was draining. The monotony of his days emptied his spirit. sunk in. Days turn to weeks, until he broke. This wasn’t him and this wasn’t his life.
“I’ll be back. I’m going for a walk to burn off some of this pasta.”
“OK. do you want me to come with?”
“No. You stay,” he said abruptly.
“Ok honey, hurry back I miss you already.”
Michael had no intention on going back. He had enough of this charade and was ready to go back to his other life of opulence.
They finally fixed the doorbell to a beautifully tuned sonata.
“Damn” Thom said thru the peep hole.
The taxi driver pulled off as Micheal approached the porch.
“What the fuck?” Lisa whispered.
“I was hoping we would never see this fool again.”
“Michael. Come in.” they rushed him into the house.
“What are you doing here? “
Michael, walked passed them and upstairs. He pulled the ladder down going into the attic.
“Things didn’t work out like I anticipated. She’s not what I anticipated. It doesn’t make sense for me to stay here any longer. I need to go back.”
“OK,” Lisa said.
“You guys are going to help me. I have other plans for this place.”
Thom and Lisa stared blankly at each other.
“Listen, Micheal, we already don’t feel comfortable with what happened and really want to stay out of your business. We don’t want any trouble.” Thom said diplomatically.
“I’m going to need you to handle some cargo for me. The bags will come in, just make sure nobody finds out. I think the million dollars should cover your services. Either way, you will do what I say.” Michael got right in Thom’s face.
“OK, be easy. No problem.” Thom backed off.
“Ill be in touch.” Micheal sat in front of the attic window while browsing the net. He was there, after entering a series of passwords, he was gone.
“Fuuuuck,” Lisa shouted.
Thom paced the attic.
“Get me some rags and a lighter.”
Lisa grabbed some ripped shirts and a BIC from the kitchen cabinet.
“Pack some stuff, we’re going on a vacation.”
Lisa did as she was told while Thom emptied a spray can of RAID into the rags.
“Throw a few things in the suitcase for me. We need to do this now,” he screamed downstairs.
The flame grew as soon as it hit the old doused cotton. He dropped it and lit another piece. Until the room was full of smoke.
“Lets go,” he yelled as he climbed down the ladder. They ran into the car and headed to the city. The house burned for an hour before the fire truck came screaming down the street. By that time the old wood structure had caught wildfire. The fire department worked the blaze for some time. But it was a lost cause. The only things remained were the bricks along the base of the house.
“Is this Mr. Thom Ross?”
“Yes, this is. How can I help you?”
“Mr. Ross, I’m sorry to inform you but there was fire at your home yesterday, 1600 Conrad St.”
Thom was silent for a few seconds for effect.
“Oh my God. We’re on vacation for the week in the Catskills. I can’t believe this. What happened?”
“We tried to reach you earlier but your phone went straight to voicemail. Seems like this is arson.”
“There is an interesting issue, a body was discovered in the ashes Mr. Ross. We haven’t identified who this person is. The investigators will be in touch with you to discuss further.”
“OK. Only my wife and I live in the home. I’m not sure if someone had broken into the house or what? Maybe he started the fire?” Thom said with a skeptical tone.
“Yes, that is a possibility. I don’t have all the details, but like I said a detective will be in touch. I’m especially sorry about your home. I heard about what you’re doing to revitalize the neighborhood.”
“Yeah, I appreciate that. Thanks for the call.” Thom ended the call without a goodbye.
“That motherfucker left a dead body in our house,” Lisa said with her teeth clenched.
“So, yes we had a small business going. Sort of an internet cafe. I realize the we aren’t zoned for that, but nevertheless. Michael was a client. Um, he used our services but didn’t like the results.
“What exactly are your services, just for my records,” the detective held his pen midair, waiting for Thom to answer.
“Basically, we gave our clients access to an underground network. Sort of a dark web kind of thing. They could purchase things that are hard to find.”
“OK. Continue.” The detective didn’t seem concerned about any potential illegal activities.
“We offered to give him his money back but he was adamant on getting the word out.” Thom explained.
“Evidently, we’re crooks and scammers,” Lisa added.
“He had to have been watching us, waited until we were gone and came back and burnt the house down.” Thom said as if he had it all figured out. He sat back with his arms crossed signaling the end of the show they were putting on.
“Its unfortunate you know when you try to do good and people take it too far. I hear you were trying to fix that neighborhood. I actually grew up over there. I was glad to see somebody come in and not be scared. I commend you guys.” The detective stood up.
“Sit tight. I’ll be right back. I think we have everything we need.”
“We should be able to stay at the corner house. There’s no one in there now,” Thom whispered.
Five minutes seemed like hours as the detective opened the door to the interrogation room.
“OK guys, you are good to go. We’ll give you a call if we have anymore questions. Here’s my card and I’m sorry about this whole situation.” The detective extended his hand to Thom.
“Yeah, we appreciate your words and wish the best for his family.”
Lisa shook his hand as well on the way out.
The car was silent as they drove away from the precinct. Five miles into the ride Thom took a deep sigh of relief.
“I still can’t believe this.”
They drove past the remains of the house.
“I have an idea. Let’s make this into a community garden.” Lisa’s excitement was surprising considering they had just came from the police station. Or maybe this was her proverbial sigh of relief.
“Yeah, we can clear the land and have the community come out and help start it up. Great idea babe.” Thom’s voice wasn’t as enthusiastic.
“Listen, I’m thinking we should move back to the city. This situ.”
“I totally agree,” Lisa answered before he could finish his sentence. They smiled at each other and headed to the freeway.