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Funny Fiction Contemporary

"Norah's from my group. I trust her. She'll find us something." Olivia nodded to herself.

Ethan stopped at the light. He smiled. "You think being in your group recommends her?"

She rolled her eyes. "Of course. She works in real estate. She's not only in my group. She's a friend."

Noah accelerated. He scanned the apartment buildings they passed.

"From the look of these, the rule is, 'get the best place in a bad neighborhood...'"

She touched his arm. "Give her a chance, okay? She knows the market."

"I'll be good. I'm playing."

"She said it's gentrifying. Now's the time to get in, before rents skyrocket."

He turned and parked down the block from their destination. They got out and he locked the car.

Ethan held her hand as they stepped through litter to the sidewalk. Across the street, three men stood under a tree vaping. One of them pointed and they burst into laughter.

"At least the trash bags are neatly stacked." Ethan looked down the way. "Here comes a gent now."

Olivia pulled a mace canister from her purse. "Can't be too careful."

A man in a trench coat approached from the far corner. He struggled to hold his pit bull straining against the short leash. It appeared to be winning.

Ethan said, "If he loses traction, you’re on your own..."

Olivia used Ethan as her shield.

When the dog got within a few lunges of them, the man barked a command and the pit bull sat at attention.

He said, "Are you Olivia and Ethan? Norah asked me to fetch you."

"Thus the dog..." Ethan muttered.

Olivia touched his back. "That's us. And you?"

"I'm Tex. But most call me Stranger..." The couple read each other's thoughts with a glance. "It's okay... You can approach. Grendel loves people."

"...Not just for breakfast, anymore..." Olivia nudged Ethan.

Wary of the pit bull, they approached. Grendel ignored them.

Tex said, "Norah's up in the apartment. She didn't want you to get lost." They shook hands. "Follow me." He clicked his tongue and the dog heeled.

Olivia asked, "You live here, Tex? How is it?"

"Grendel's handy out here..." He indicated the street. "Strays join packs. People get skittish." He chuckled as he unlocked the gate and held it for the others. "It's a sociable group, mostly. The tenants, I mean... not the dogs."

Ethan asked, "Which is your apartment?"

Tex indicated the stairs. "Norah's on the third..."

Olivia led the way. "No elevator?"

"Not working..."

Tex trailed behind. His voice echoed up the stairwell. "That dog pack loves this guy on the second floor. Eddie Alamos… Sings with, 'Opera on Edge,' or 'Edgy Opera...' something like that. Anyway, not my style. But the dogs love singing back-up. A good chorus, if you like that sort of thing."

"Great!"

"Eddie sings from his balcony, any time, night or day... when home from touring. Or when they have a fire."

They stopped on a landing.

Olivia said, "Fire?"

"Typical courtyard bonfire. Socializing. A little drink, a little smoke... dancing... you know."

"Burning what?"

Ethan said, "Books?"

Tex laughed, "No, no... Nothing like that. Just crap... you know, scrap found layin' about... Mainly fun. Cops hardly come 'round." He headed up again. "Home stretch!"

"Cool..."

"Yeah, people on the top floors complain ‘bout the smoke. But if they joined the party, they'd enjoy s'mores too."

They reached the top floor. Ethan mopped his brow and leaned on the railing.

Tex said, "I wouldn't lean on that..."

Olivia took his hand. He mouthed 'Thanks.'

Tex walked on. "Norah's waiting yonder..."

He stopped at an open apartment door. Wearing a white pant suit, Norah stood in the large, white, living room. Fresh paint always smells clean.

Norah and Olivia embraced and laughed. Tex stood outside with Grendel.

Olivia said, "So nice to see you! Thanks for meeting us. This is Ethan."

They shook hands.

"I've heard a lot about you."

"And I see you met Stranger..." Tex made a little wave. "Come on in. Grendel's fine."

Tex edged in but hung back. The dog followed and lay by the door.

"Yes! He's been giving us the low-down on this amazing apartment!" She turned to Ethan. "Isn't it perfect?" He nodded. "So bright. And clean... And spacious..."

Norah said, "Look around. Explore your new home..."

Oohing and ahhing, Olivia ran to peek into other rooms.

Ethan said, "It looks nice."

"It is... What do you do Ethan?"

"I write click bait."

"What's that?"

"The new journalism. Used to be the headline gave you the meat, and you'd read on for detail..."

Norah nodded. "Who, what, when... the five 'W's.'"

"Right. But I get paid by the minute. The longer I can keep you chasing that carrot, the more I make."

"You must be rich." He smiled. "I tell you, I'm a sucker for that stuff. They never get to the point and I click away forever, thinking, 'the next one will explain this...'"

Everyone laughed.

Olivia rejoined them. She said, "Eth holds the office record for the longest read, ever!" Ethan shuffled his feet. "You kept them going for what, twenty minutes?"

"Twenty-seven..."

"And they never did get to the end! It was amazing. He'll be in the Guinness book someday."

Norah said, "Do you have questions about the apartment?"

Olivia said, "It seems perfect. But I want to know about... Stranger..." She paused. "Is he really, St. Ranger?"

Norah chuckled as Tex met her gaze. "Except, he's no saint." Smiling, he nodded.

Olivia turned to him. "Don't tell me, your first name is Lorne...?"

Tex rolled his eyes and everyone laughed.

He stepped forward. "I'll give it to you Nor, you fixed this place up real well, after..." Norah shot him a glance.

Olivia said, "What?" Tex began, but Norah's look silenced him. "Norah, what?"

She and Ethan glanced at each other.

Ethan addressed Tex. "Well?"

Norah said, "The last tenants totally trashed the place."

Ethan held on Tex. "Stranger?"

"You could say that... not to mention the dead body." Norah turned away and sighed like a deflating tire. "Get real, Norah. They should know."

"Know what? Were they sick?" Olivia looked at Ethan.

Tex continued, "As I was sayin,' Norah cleaned it up, so you'd never know."

"Kinda the point, Tex..."

Tex walked around and pointed. "It's amazing. They cleaned up the stains... Looked like a slaughterhouse in here."

Norah turned. "New wall board. New paint. Kitchen... Fumigated... Inspectors up the yin-yang... A brand new apartment."

"New floors too..." Tex said. Norah nodded.

Ethan and Olivia looked at each other.

"But a murder?"

With cold eyes, Tex nodded.

Olivia said, "Uhm..."

They walked to the window and stood, holding hands. No one spoke.

Norah said, "I can get it for you below market..."

They said as one, "We'll take it."

Norah clapped her hands. She and Tex slapped a high-five.

"I'll get the contract."

Everyone relaxed. Grendel groaned and rolled onto his back.

Ethan said, "Wait, Norah..." Everyone stopped. "No rent-free ghosts, or no deal!"

Norah kept a straight face. "I'll add an amendment."

Olivia did a fist pump. "Yes!"

June 03, 2022 22:11

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6 comments

Courtney Renee
13:48 Jun 13, 2022

This was a fun read. You did a nice job of giving the characters personality and displaying it through their interactions. I wasn’t expecting them to take the apartment at the end, it made me smile, nice job!

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John K Adams
13:51 Jun 13, 2022

Yeah, it's hard to pass up a sale. Thanks for reading and commenting. It was fun to write.

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Nicole Of 2022
22:43 Jun 04, 2022

Oof slow down LOL 4 new stories since i last came to your acc.!! I laughed a lot at this story tbh lololol Great job!!!

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John K Adams
03:23 Jun 05, 2022

Thanks for reading. Glad you liked. Got inspired and let my fingers do the walking.

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VJ Hamilton
23:42 Jun 08, 2022

LoL, I like the conflict between the couple at the start... but they ultimately have good communication. I see a "Noah" early on -- is that a typo? Don't mind my quibble, I was very amused by this piece! Tex/Ranger is classic! Thanks for a great read.

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John K Adams
02:06 Jun 09, 2022

Glad you liked it Vj. Thanks for pointing out the extra name. I thought I caught them all. Noah and Norah were too close to each other and I didn't want to be confusing. It was fun to write. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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