2 years ago…

It was what they needed. An eight-bedroom home with five bathrooms, three living rooms, a den, a three-car garage that also featured a two-bedroom guest house right behind it, and plenty of open space as far as the eye could see. They couldn’t say no, and their financial situation was just barely good enough to make this affordable.

“It’s nice here,” said his sister, Annalina, “The air smells crisp, fresh. There’s no unnatural rot or decay, no exhaust.” Turning around slowly, Rourke had to agree. There were wide open, grassy plains all around, with wooded areas to the south and north of the home, while a gravel roadway ran for miles to the west side of the home, the only means of egress by vehicle, as Mr. Ogurzi had informed them that the fields were filled with enough pot holes and possible sinkholes to permanently damage or even swallow up a vehicle. It was an odd bit of trivia to throw out, but useful.

Rourke grinned uneasily as their (hopefully) landlord raised an eyebrow. He grinned as well, which meant he might have believed that Anna was being a bit melodramatic, or simply odd. Shooting his sister a glance that she didn’t return, but probably felt, Rourke opened his mouth to speak to Mr. Ogurzi. He was a rather severe-looking individual with a very pronounced widow’s peak and dark, jet-black hair that looked as though it was just beginning to go grey at his temples.

“What is the asking price again, per month?”

“Per month it will be three thousand, US dollars. I prefer US to Euro, personal choice.”

“The currency is no problem,” Annalina chimed in, “But is there any foot traffic around these parts?”

Rourke had thought to tell his sister to let him handle it, but thankfully she brought up a good point. Mr. Ogurzi’s grin widened into a smile, showing a glint of his very, very white teeth as he replied.

“Not really. In a given month you might see two or three people come down this road,” he said, pointing to the gravel road at the end of the driveway, nearly a hundred yards away, “But apart from that, look around you. This open country, owned by me, or by the county. The only ones to bother you around here are the animals, and even they make it a point to stay away from people.”

Annalina nodded, retreating to her own headspace again as Rourke spoke once more.

“You want first and last I assume?”

Mr. Ogurzi pointed a single finger at Rourke, “You would assume correctly, and therefore not make an ass of you and me.” he chuckled just a bit, “Sorry, bad joke.”

“No, no, I got it,” Rourke said, patting one hand in the air, “And I think we can swing that. Nine grand to buy into this place for first, last, and next month? We can do that.”

“And it is you, your sister, and another?”

“Two others,” Rourke corrected, “My daughter and our friend,” he motioned toward Annalina, “Renfro.”

“Ah, yes, I remember. So four in this big house? That’s a lot, but I’m not here to judge, I just collect. And make repairs when needed, of course.”

“We do tend to have friends over from time to time. Is that okay?”

Mr. Ogurzi nodded, “Yes, yes, perfectly okay. So long as they do not move in without notice, then it is perfectly okay. If they move in, the rent must go up due to increased occupancy. You understand?”

“Yes, I do,” Rourke replied with a nod, “And there will only be the four of us living there, but we do get a lot of visitors sometimes. Big family.”

“They may stay for a night or two at most, but anything else, I must know,” Mr. Ogurzi stated, his thick, Albanian accent coating every word.

“Then I think we have a deal, if you’re ready to write it up.” Rourke extended his hand, which Mr. Ogurzi shook readily as his smile widened.

“Indeed we do have a deal.”

(to be continued)

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