A Different Blue Page 46

I followed him down the stairs, trying not to get excited, telling myself it was a bad idea. The basement was nothing much to see. It was concrete walls and floor, easily 2,500 square feet of mostly empty space. There were some odds and ends and an old washer and dryer pushed up against the farthest wall, but that was all. The fact that the home had a basement was notable. Basements in Las Vegas were about as scarce as brick houses. It had overhead lights though, and electricity for my power tools. It would be more than sufficient for what I needed.

“There's some old furniture that was in the house when I bought the place.” Wilson jerked tarps off of various items in the farthest corner. “You're welcome to whatever you think you can use, and that washer and dryer are all hooked up. You could come down here and do your laundry, too.”

“How much, Wilson?” I demanded, interrupting his list of amenities. “How much a month?”

He considered, tilting his head to the side as if he had to put a lot of thought into it.

“It's small, and I can't rent it to a full-grown man. He'd feel like Gulliver living with the Lilliputians. I had actually decided to just leave it empty and let my mum use it when she visited. But she's too much of a snob, so that probably won't work.”

“How much, Wilson?”

“Four hundred a month would be too much probably.” He eyed me. “But I'll throw in your utilities to make it more fair.”

Four hundred was ridiculously cheap, and he knew it. The rent on Cheryl's apartment was $900 a month and it was a smelly dive, and that only included water and sewer. Gas and power were separate. I knew because there were times when I'd had to pay the power bill out of my paycheck from the cafe.

“Why are you doing this for me?” I demanded, shoving my hands into the pockets of my raggedy shorts.

Wilson sighed. “I'm really not doing anything, Blue. The $400 is more than sufficient, really. It will be nice for Mrs. Darwin to have another female in the building, too. My new tenant is a bloke. This way if she needs help with anything . . . female . . . then you will be here. It's perfect, really.” He was grasping at straws.

“Anything female? Like what?”

“Well, I don't know. Just bits and bobs . . . uh, female stuff that I wouldn't be able to assist her with.”

“I see,” I said, trying not to laugh. Euphoria was bubbling in my chest, and I wanted to do a celebratory dance around the basement. I was going to do it. I was going to move into that perfect little apartment all by myself. No smoke, no Cheryl, no beer bottles and sweaty men to trip over and avoid. I was moving out.

Chapter Fifteen

I found a table and two chairs, a loveseat with a matching recliner, and a bed frame that we brought up from the basement. Wilson insisted on having the sofa and recliner steam cleaned. He made up some excuse about Mrs. Darwin having already scheduled someone to come for some of her things, but Mrs. Darwin looked completey clueless when I mentioned it to her the day the steam cleaner arrived. Wilson also miraculously produced a brand new, double-sized mattress and box springs that he said had also been in the basement, though I hadn't seen them.

I presented him with a check for six hundred dollars the next day and told him I was on to him and to knock off the extras because I couldn't afford them, and I wasn't taking freebies. I loaded up my tools, discontinued my lease of the storage space, and gathered up my few belongings from Cheryl's. It was probably the easiest moving day in the history of moving days. Cheryl was a little surprised but not especially emotional. She seemed a little worried that she might not be able to pay all the bills that month but was considering possible roomates by the time I left. I wondered if I would see her again. I wrote down my new address and told her she had my number if she needed to reach me. She nodded, replying, “You too.” And that was all.

There was a huge dumpster at the edge of the complex, not far from where my truck was parked. I looked down at the garbage sacks filled with my clothes, and then back at the dumpster. Soon I wouldn't fit into most of my things, and they all stunk like Cheryl's apartment. I didn't want to bring them into my new place. I wanted to fling them high and wide, letting them land in a smelly heap on top of all the other trash. Tiffa had called me a few days before and told me she'd sold three more of my pieces. Together the pieces had gone for a thousand bucks. I could afford new clothes if I was thrifty. Tiffa said she would bring the check by Wilson's place when I was settled. She seemed to have all the details on my big move, which both surprised and pleased me. I liked that I warranted mention in Wilson's conversations.

I dug my boots and my shoes out of the bags, as well as a few other things I didn't want to part with, and piled them on the passenger seat. I couldn't replace everything. Then with great relish, I threw every last piece of clothing I owned away.

The very best thing about my apartment was the vent in the ceiling. If I stood beneath it, I could hear Wilson playing his cello. I don't know why the sound traveled the way it did, but once I discovered it, I placed the sagging recliner beneath the vent in the center of my tiny living room, and I would sit there in the dark each night, rocking and listening as Wilson's music whispered through the metal slats above me and wrapped me in sweetness. He would have laughed to see me there, my face upturned, a smile on my lips, as he made the strings sing without words. He played one particular melody every night, and I would wait for it, sighing with satisfaction when the familiar tune found its way to me. I didn't know the name. I had never heard it before, but every time he played it I felt like I had finally come home.

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