UNITED STATES—In this last little corner of Bunker Hill two tenants jumped ship when they learned the Monroy’s were going to sell to a couple of East Side real estate sharks. The Monroy’s were not your average owners. The charmingly dilapidated bungalow that crept up the steep slope was not just another of Mr. and Mrs. Monroys’ many properties; it was their sole property. In fact, the Guatemalan couple, whose acquisition of this house in a forced bank sale vindicated the American Dream, paid rent for their own house.

With news of the sale, Mr. Wynn saw his dream come true evaporate. For the last three years, he had actually been able to ride a bicycle to work, and had hoped to see his daughter graduate from high school in a stable environment. As the official tenant, Mr. Wynn served also as the estate’s manager and rent collector for the two “cool” tenants who shared the bungalow with him. Surely, when they gave notice, it cut into the badly needed money that was rushing the Monroy’s into the sale.

Mrs. Monroy promised to meet with Mr. Wynn, regarding his concerns about the pending sale. Saturday, 10 a.m. was marked on the calendar. He anticipated it all week, see-sawing between masochistic dread and real despair. Then Saturday came and went. The Monroy’s were a no show. Mrs. Monroy alleged that Mr. Monroy was not feeling well. Mr. Wynn wondered if some mighty health issue loomed. That might explain the urgent need for an influx of capital.

Mrs. Monroy promised that they would meet Mr. Wynn the following Saturday to discuss the future of the rental. He counted the days until it came and tortured himself with visions of all that assaulted him before when fraudulently evicted by his last landlord. He had to take it to court, and won.

The was what made this place, this peace in a corner of ramshackle paradise so cherished.
The eve of the meeting Mr. Wynn called the Monroy’s to confirm and allay his jitters. He got Mr. Monroy on the line, a man of infinitely fewer words that his wife. “I will be there,” he said. The Mrs. Monroy came on the line, “We will be there,” she said and mentioned that her husband was not feeling well.

“If he is not up to it, we can reschedule,” Mr. Wynn said brightly. He displayed great sincerity, proving to himself that outstanding acts of politeness are born out of abandoning one’s own wishes.

“We will see you at ten o’clock,” Mrs. Monroy said.

They were late and Mr. Wynn was just about to call and cancel, when they showed at the bungalow’s sloping doorstep. With the real estate sharks absent, a cordiality inserted itself in their relations. They came in. He offered them tea.

It felt like each step brought him closer to the New American Dream: to devote every extra penny to world travel and becoming a wine connoisseur.

To be continued…

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)