Rise of the Tellers 12: Latoka

It was the first house I lived in that had a fenced-in yard. The first house I lived in that had a dishwasher. It was the house I brought my first-born son home to, and the one I carried my wife over the threshold of. I finished my first novel in the house on Latoka. I finished my second there, too.

It had three bedrooms and a massive bathroom. It had a good-sized living room, a good-sized dining room, a nice kitchen and a huge rec room. I loved it the moment I saw it and because of my idiocy we almost didn’t get it.

Okay, so we filled out the rental application and I wanted it desperately. I mean it was the nicest house I had ever even thought about living in. I filled out all the paperwork and by “I,” I of course mean Bekah, and we waited. When a day had gone by and they didn’t get back to us, we called to check up on it.

“Oh, we have denied your application. We can’t have you as renters,” the woman said. She was very professional, very calm about it.

“Can I ask why we didn’t get the house?” Bekah asked.

“Well one of the applicants is a perfect candidate, the other on the other hand is terrible. One pays their rent on time every time no matter what and the other has paid his rent late every month for the past three years without fail. No, I’m sorry we can’t have you as renters.”

Bekah woke me up. “You pay your rent late?” she snapped.

I leaned up on my elbow. “Good morning?”

“You paid your rent late every month for three years? What in the hell are you doing to me, Teller?” she said.

“I paid it the day I got my government check. Every day without fail. The day I was paid the first thing I did was write that office a check. I know the name of the woman that runs the place. Her name is Doris, she is great. What on earth are you talking about?”

“What day do you get your benefits?” Bekah asked.

“The fourth.”

“Every month?”

“Clock work.”

“Well Jesse rent is due on the first and now you have a record of paying your rent late every month for three years and we lost Latoka.”

“No,” I jumped up. “Seriously? Call them back. Explain. Get them back on the phone.” I snapped my fingers. “I’ll call Doris.”

Well Doris explained the whole thing to the rental company. She told them how I always made it on the grace period, always on the same day without fail. The very day I got paid and she said that she had seen me exhausted, sick, and nearly crawling but I was always there on the fourth.

Moving day, Bell almost got arrested.

Well what happened was, the neighbor saw a guy pull up in a black car, wearing all black, lurking (Bell may take issue with my use of the word lurking but I am trying to paint a picture here) in the front yard carrying some sort of appliance.

An eagle-eyed neighbor came running out of the house yelling and waving a baseball bat.

Bell freaked out and I ran outside to see Bell hugging my toaster with one hand and holding the other up as if to say, “Not me man, not me.”

As I think back on it, I will say a few things. Bell was dressed as a cat burglar complete with black beanie and hoodie. But in his defense, he was carrying the item into the house not out of it. I will also say this is a great neighborhood to live in.

About a week after we moved in Morgan got loose and he went wandering. When we caught up with him, he was willing to share the big pile of beans he had found in someone’s yard.

In 2007 right after Rayph was born, Springfield got hit with an ice storm. I got out of the house to move the car out from under a tree limb that might fall and I saw a clear image of what was coming. I told Bekah to pack us up, that we were headed out.

We packed for a week and grabbed a few essentials like the Complete First Season of Lost and we got in the car. I drove so slow it was damn near criminal until we got to the last hotel in town with the last room available. We stayed the night, then we headed down to Waynesville.

K and Patron had an electric furnace and a wood furnace with plenty of wood. I was unwilling to have a newborn baby with no heat or electricity. It took us two and a half hours to get to Waynesville which is about double the normal time. When we got there, we had all of our stuff, a new baby, and two big dogs. We all shacked up with K for two weeks while Springfield sorted itself out.

No one in Springfield had power for two weeks. I count this as one of my crowning achievements as a father.

We planned our wedding in that house. We conceived our boy in that house.

It was on Latoka where we sat in front of our first Christmas tree, looked around and felt a wide yawning gap in our lives that prompted us to get pregnant in the first place.

We lived there for about two years before moving up to Milwaukee for five. It was the first real happiness I ever found. Our little house on Latoka will forever be the very cradle of my happiness.


This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.

Vol. 1: Teardrop Road is available now on Amazon.

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