2.58 The Proverbial Fork

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(I will celebrate properly later…but this is how I feel on the inside!)

I did not manage to thrust my left foot into a tangerine sneaker before Mr. John Dupree arrived at the Lavender Lady. Nor did I accomplish the aforementioned feat soon, or even soon adjacent, after his arrival.

Mr. John Dupree’s casual Saturday attire constituted a lopapeysa in shades that reminded me of the Colombia Basin in summer, soft chocolate tinted trousers, and shiny mahogany hued shoes. In other words – he looked just as dapper dressed down as he did suited up.

(In case you, like me, never heard the word ‘lopapeysa’ before – it’s apparently a traditional Icelandic sweater with a distinctive pattern knitted into it. After I compliment its craftsmanship, Mr. John Dupree happily told me the history of his wooly jumper, purchased while on vacation in Reykjavik.) 

My non-traditional twosome, of black sock and bright shoe, did not go unnoticed. In fact, it received a swift arch of Mr. John Dupree’s eyebrow, a split second conversation pause followed by rapid dive down to brass tacks. 

Which included: a set of speedy introductions, a posthaste hiring of Mr. John Dupree to represent Nevermore, a bare-bones outline of our initial needs, a match set of brisk phone calls to Ira and Leo, a teeth-gnashing wait for their arrival, another set of quick introductions, an interminable wait as Mr. John Dupree penned a clause Ira insisted on including in the contract, some signatures, a fair bit of countersigning, one stamp and then step two was finished.

I am – officially – Nevermore’s Caretaker once again.

And I’ve still failed to carve out a pair of seconds to rectify my deficiency of shoes. Which presently is least of my problems, a point Mr. John Dupree was making enormously clear over some celebratory cups of coffee.

“The language is simple. If Nevermore defaults, the collateral is forfeit, i.e., half of Nevermore’s estate.” Shaking his head, Mr. John Dupree turned to Little Ben and chucked the loan documents onto the kitchen table between them in disgust. “Why did you sign this? The terms are godawful.” 

Squirming under the scrutiny of Mr. John Dupree’s intense gaze, Little Ben shrunk slightly. “Putting up that much collateral lowered the interest rate to practically nothing, so it seemed like a good move. Sarah and Nathaniel didn’t think the small print mattered much since we were on solid financial footing…” 

“Be that as it may, their advise was poor.” 

“Should’ve listened to Lottie.” Was his only (and muttered) reply.

Watching the unbound bits of glitter spring, whirl, and glimmer across the table, I waited for Mr. John Dupree to drop the other shoe. Turning to include Ira and me in the next bit of news, he didn’t fail. 

“I don’t see any legal loophole in the loan or the loan call.”

Fan-forking-tastic.

Once again woebegone, Little Ben, addressed the depths of his mug in a hoarse voice. “So what you’re saying is either I forfeit half of Nevermore to the bank or sell a third to the city…..This is going to kill Pop.”

And there it is…The proverbial fork in the road. No matter which route we choose – we lose…and Josie wins.

Getting up from the table, I limped to the liquor closet.

“Good idea, I think we could all use a nip of something…” Beatrice’s initial thumbs-up morphed to horror when she spotted what I actually pulled from her cupboard dedicated to fermented grape and grain. “You stashed that, in there?”

“I’ll decontaminate the closet later, I promise.” 

“Drinking glitter-infused alcohol is not a thing.”

“I don’t know…” Leo countered, clearly succumbing to a wistful reverie. “….Goldschlager is pretty tasty.”

Head down, I bit my lip to keep them from curving upwards. Mr. John Dupree, undoubtedly sensing our sudden descent in the direction of pure whimsy, pulled us up short.

“What’s that?”

Meeting his gaze with a half-smile, I told him. 

“Door number three.”