Susan Simpson and Janet Sarbanes - Homesick for the World

The Inspector came yesterday. The house is flocked. Flocked? I echoed. What's that? You know, flocking, the Inspector said, spitting yellow—like a Christmas Tree, only gold. Somebody flocked my house with gold? I said. Real gold? Couldn't tell you, the Inspector said, but no one's going to buy a house that's flocked. You better call off that short sale.

I walked around the property with him. Don't know how I could've missed it. My house is shiny gold. Falling down in parts, but shiny gold. Why wouldn't they buy it? I asked. Isn't it more valuable like this? Oh no, the Inspector said, pushing up the brim of his blank cap, then pulling it down. They'll see right through it. People're a lot quicker than they used to be.

You'll have to get that tenant outta there, he said. The Bank's coming for you. Can't get that tenant outta there, I said. I thought you were going to give me some options. Thought that's why I had you out here. The Bank had me out here, he said. It's got nothing to do with you. You're working for the Bank? I said. Everybody's working for the Bank, he said. Why cant you get that tenant outta there?

The Tenant was in Vietnam, and he says he’s not going anywhere ever again. He’s told me I'll have to pry the keys from his cold dead hands. The last thing he wants to see on this earth is the blue desert sky from the window of my kitchen nook, not a cloud in it. That's what home is, he says, taking a position. The lady who owns the pink house next door can't get her tenant out either. That's what you get for putting two houses in the middle of nowhere. Only crazies will pay to live there.

That’s okay, the Inspector said. Bank'll get 'im out. One way or another. He looked like a snake standing there, so matter of fact and deadly. How come there's nothing on your cap? I asked him. How do you mean? he said. Like a logo or a slogan or something. Hard to trust a man in a blank cap. The Inspector shrugged. I don't need you to trust me. You're the one with the flocked house. Don't you believe in anything? I said. Not even Disneyland or the Dodgers or fishing? He shrugged again. Just doing my job.

The Inspector said some more hurtful things, and then he left. It was sundown, and I stood there with tears in my eyes looking at my shining little house. Even the neighbor's house, which isn't flocked, looked beautiful in the dying sunlight. Then I went and banged on my front door.

The Tenant opened it up a crack with the chain still on. The plate in his head where he took shrapnel gleamed silver, but the rest was in shadows. The Bank'll be here tomorrow, I said. Damn you, he said, you always were a terrible landlord. Aw come on, let's bury the hatchet, I said. This is my whole life savings we're talking about. Well I ain't coming out, he said. I'm not asking you to, I said. I want to come in.

The work crew showed up this morning and started hammering up the boards. They were talking and laughing and their caps all said things, different things, like World's Greatest Dad and I'd Rather Be Fishing and Obama '08. I don't even think they knew we were in there. In fact I'm sure they didn't. The Bank told them we were gone and it was time to board up the house while they figured out what to do with it. The Inspector must've thought I was a reasonable man.

We sat in the kitchen nook on either side of the narrow table, listening to them hammer, every tap like a blow to the temple. Look! The Tenant said when the crew was done and everything was quiet again. They missed a spot! I looked where he was pointing and you could still see the sky in the top right hand corner of the window, a little patch of blue.