Chapter I

Chapter I

A Chapter by William Yasanari Harris



When I was a more impressionable lad my father would tell me whenever I asked him for something a friend had, “Son, just remember that the grass is greener over there because our dog s***s in their yard.” 

What irked me was we didn’t have a dog.  My mother didn’t like pet hair and dirty paws in her house; and she frowned on my dad’s hillbilly humor.  I found out later that his father was the original author.  Nonetheless, I inherited my dad’s humor and keen eye for when things are not what they may seem.  Such was my gut feeling when I stepped out of the car and glanced at the big sign in front of the Kettering Hills business office.

It was not your typical college rental for one person.  A posting on the board outside the university business office is what drew me to the place.  As for that LUXRIOUS SUITES boast in big, bold print on the sign out front of the rental office�"that was far more fiction than fact.  Having said that, I must admit Kettering Hills was the only place in the Dayton, Ohio area suited for the likes of Madigan. 

The place is located at the corner of East Dorothy Lane and County Line Road.  Across from the rental office parking lot is an apartment building with parking garages around back.  The patios and balconies facing south overlook the volleyball sand pit and pool.  The clubhouse sits on the opposite side.  Six rows of townhomes fill in the rest of the complex.  A row of patios (the five smallest units) face the eastside of the clubhouse and pool.  The front doors of the largest section of townhomes (where most of the families with kids live) face East Dorothy Lane.  Then there are two long rows of townhomes that run on both sides of the parking lot extending from the apartments to County Line Road.  Two rows of townhouses parallel that drive.  The units furthest north overlook a hill sloping down into a community park. 

From the top of the hill, one can see picnic tables and stone grills dotting the way to a small playground.  It’s buried beneath a canopy of trees�"giving the appearance of a painted landscape.  At the base of the hill, lighted tennis and basketball courts sit next to a parking lot.  It stretches all the way to the other side of the park to a concession stand surrounded by five fenced-in ball fields.  I’ve heard their Chicago dog is the real thing.

The Kettering Hills entrance drive from East Dorothy Lane loops around into a circle in front of the rental office.  The property manager is a full-figured, redhead woman with red, puffy cheeks and too much eye make-up.  She looks like she’s about to break out of her red sweater.  She’s giving instructions to a maintenance guy.  His hair is very long and stringy; his dungarees dirty and no sleeves on his Harley t-shirt.  He stands with a slouch; his right hand propped on the hammer in his tool belt.

“Don’t forget,” said the property manager, pointing a finger at him.

“Hello,” I knocked on the screen door again.

The woman turned and looked at me. 

“Oh, come in,” she motioned.

She straightened her sweater and touched up her hair.

“I apologize,” she said, fidgeting with her skirt.

I opened the screen door and stood on the welcome rug.

She approached me.  “I didn’t hear you.”

“No problem,” I said.

“I’m Darlene Dinsmore, the manager,” she smiled, extending me her hand.

“I’m Rich,” I said, shaking her hand.

“How may I help you Rich?”

“I called about an hour ago.” 

“I get a lot of calls,” she said.

I gave her my birth name, “Richard Winston.”

“I remember,” she chuckled, “the NASCAR name.”

I didn’t laugh.

“You must not follow it,” she said.

“I don’t,” I told her, “But I am looking for a rental.”

“Then you’ve come to the right place,” she grinned.  “What do you have in mind?”

“An apartment,” I replied.

“That building,” she pointed, “is the only apartments I got.  And I got nothing until the beginning of August.  I can put you on a waiting list?”

“No, that’s too long.”  Then I turned and indicated the sign in the window.  “What about that furnished studio?”

She looked back at the maintenance guy.  “Is that unit ready for viewing?”

He just stared out the window.

“The studio,” she said.  “Is it ready?”

He looked at her.

“Is it?” she demanded.

“Yah,” he nodded.

She shook her head.  Then she turned and looked at me.

“It just became available,” she said, “Would you like to see it?”

“Yes,” I replied.

She walked over to her desk, reached inside the middle drawer, and pulled out a ring of keys.  She led me down a walk past the pool, in front of the apartments, across the parking lot to the furthest row of townhomes facing east on County Line Road.  Studio units were built into the hillside underneath the townhomes.  Each unit had a concrete patio beneath the balcony above.  They looked down into the park.  A double-glass sliding door opened into the patio; a walkway led to the door.  I saw no windows.  She showed me the unit.

“What do you think?” asked Mrs. Dinsmore as we stepped out on the patio.

“I don’t know,” I replied; and pointing at the sliding glass door, “What about a couple of windows?”

“All of them are basically the same,” she replied. 

“That’s too open,” I told her.

“There’s a curtain,” she said.

I glanced back at the sliding glass door.

“How much is it?”

“Its $1000 a month,” she replied, “I’d need first month’s rent and a two-month security deposit.”

“Isn’t that rather steep?” I asked.

She shook her head.

“For that kind of money,” I said, “I could probably get something in Oakwood.”

“I doubt that,” she said.  “This is reasonable compared to that neighborhood.”

“That’s not what I was told.”

“You were told wrong,” she said.

We went back and forth.

“That’s the rate,” she said at last.

“I’ll have to discuss it with my parents,” I said.  “I’m just a student.”

“You should consider a dorm room,” she said.

“I don’t want to live on campus.”

“You can find a place much cheaper in Dayton proper,” she said, “And you may find a real nice one.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I told her.  “I’m still looking.”

She glanced up at the balcony above.  I could hear music.

“That’s Madigan,” muttered Mrs. Dinsmore.

I looked at her as if he and his music were not a selling point. 

“Living here might get you an invite to one of his parties,” she said.

“Do you have other furnished units?”

She shook her head.

I glanced off into the park.

“There is another,” she began.

“Is that a townhome?

She pointed up.  “It’s this end unit.”

I glanced up at the balcony.  It was smaller than Madigan’s.

“Would you like to see it?” she asked.

“I’m not interested in a townhome.”

“You might like it.”

“Not in my budget,” I told her.

“You can always find roommates on campus.”

“Will I get a discount until I do?”

She shook her head. 

“Then I don’t�"”

She grabbed my hand.

“At least, let me show it to you?” she said, “It’s next door to Madigan.”

I stopped.

“Who is this Madigan?” I asked.

“He’d be your neighbor,” she smiled.  “You’ll be the envy of everyone that hangs out by the pool.”

“I don’t care,” I said.

We went around the building to the front of the vacant townhouse.  There was a walkway that ran alongside a single-car garage to the front door.  She opened it and insisted that I come inside. 

“Oh, come on,” she said, yanking my arm.

“Alright,” I said, following her.

“It’s over 2000 square feet,” she said with a wide sweep of her arm.  “The larger rentals like Madigan have a two-car garage and almost 2800 feet of living space.”

“This is more than I need,” I told her.

“What you need may change,” she said. 

“I doubt that.”

“This unit can house four students very comfortably,” she said.

A half-bathroom was located inside the entry corridor and on the other side a pantry and laundry room that led to the garage.  A double-door closet ran between the entry corridor and the breakfast bar in front of the kitchen on the right.  The dining area and very spacious living room were separated by an open stairway.  Sliding glass doors led to the balcony on the other end of the living room.  The balcony provided a panoramic view of the park.  Upstairs, there was a sitting room at the top of the steps; a full bathroom and two bedrooms.

“There’s a place down the street where you can rent very nice furniture at a reasonable rate,” she said.

I followed her down the steps. 

She went on, “Quite a few college students go there to furnish their townhomes.  All our units come with a garbage disposal, dishwasher, a unitized washer and dryer�"”

“I didn’t see one in that furnished studio unit,” I told her.

“We’re updating,” said Mrs. Dinsmore.  “A new unit is going in tomorrow.”

“What about the utilities?” I asked, following her into the kitchen.

“You pay electric,” she replied.

“What’s gas?”

She turned one of the knobs on the stove.

“Is that it?” I asked.

“There’s a monthly membership fee.”

I asked, “For what?”

“The association and the amenities it provides.”

“Amenities,” I repeated.

“That includes use of the clubhouse gym; and all you can eat and drink at the social gatherings we host.  The next party is Labor Day�"the last weekend by the pool.  It’s a great opportunity for you to meet Madigan and other neighbors.”

“I’ll mark my calendar,” I said politely. 

“He made the arrangements for the disc jockey and live entertainment,” she said, “And it will be catered by the same people that work his parties.”

“What parties?” I asked.

“If you move in,” she smiled, “You’ll find out.”

“I saw a gym down the street,” I said.

“That’s where Madigan works out,” she said.  “We have weights and cardio machines in the clubhouse.”

“Are there dining establishments nearby?” I asked.

“Quite a few,” she said, leading me out front.  “Madigan dines regularly at a steakhouse on the west end of the Greene called Flannery’s.  Are you familiar with the Greene?”

“No,” I replied. 

“I take it you’re not from around here,” she said.

I shook my head.

She asked, “Where you from?”

Normal, Illinois,” I told her. 

“The Greene is an outdoor promenade on the other side of East Dorothy,” she said.

She pointed south at the traffic light.  I nodded.

“What are you studying?” she asked.

“Management Science,” I replied.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“A graduate engineering program,” I replied.  “Summer classes start soon.”

“So how far is Normal from Chicago?” she asked.

“About three hours,” I replied.

“Madigan’s from Chicago,” she sighed.

I nodded.

“I’d like to visit Chicago,” she said.

“You’d like it.”

“I would,” she said; and then with wide-open eyes, added, “Madigan told me all about the lakefront drive and shopping on the Magnificent Mile.”

“I’ve been there many times,” I said. 

“Is it really all that?” she asked.

“You bet,” I said.  Then, changing the subject, I pointed at the parking spots on the other side of the driveway, “Are those numbers assigned spots?”

She nodded.

“Which one is for the studio I saw?”

“Number two,” she said.  “Madigan parks his Hummer in the spot next to it.”

It was a full-size, black Hummer.

“He has a two-car garage,” I said.

“No one complains.”

Then she turned around as the door to the double-car garage next to us began to rise.  I saw a covered sports car and a Harley; and in between a thirty-something man wearing shades; his body swaying back and forth like a rattlesnake ready to strike.  He was about six-feet or more in flip-flops as he rotated from side-to-side.   His copper-tone skin accentuated a pair of orange swim trunks.  He had a rolled-up towel and a bottle of water in one hand and in the other a paperback.  His physique resembled a work of art by Michelangelo.  It was cut and chiseled to perfection; and there wasn’t a blemish or sign of hair growth on his chest or back, only a slight dusting across his forearms and legs.

“Good afternoon Darlene,” he said in a deep voice.

“Afternoon Madigan,” she said with a flip of her hair.  “Isn’t it a beautiful day?”

“That it is,” he said.

He glanced up at the sun and then gazed off into the east.

“Got the day off?” asked Mrs. Dinsmore.

“Not a cloud in the sky,” he told her. 

“Great day for a swim,” she said.

He agreed.  Then he gave me the once over.

“Is this a new recruit?” he asked her.

“He’s looking,” she replied.

He sized me up some more; then told me, “You’d like our little oasis.”

I didn’t respond.

“Imagine a garden of sensual delights,” he said.

I glanced at the crushed beer can in the flower arrangement by his front door. 

“Great party Saturday night,” said Mrs. Dinsmore.

“Glad you liked it,” he said.  “Feel free to come by anytime.”

“I will,” she said.  “That DJ is really good.”

“I like him,” nodded Madigan.  “I’ll introduce you next time.”

She blushed. 

“I’ll talk with the cleaning crew about that empty beer can,” he said, looking at me like a serpent ready to strike.

At least, that’s what I remember; but then the whole process was rather spotty to say the least.  The only thing I know with certainty is that brief encounter preceded the walk back to her office.  I called my dad at work.  He’s a director under the CFO of a Fortune 100 headquartered in Normal, Illinois.  He got his master’s from Bradley.  He’s also educated in my grandfather’s East Tennessee fundamentalism and down home common sense.  I’ve already shared an example of that hillbilly philosophy.  Anyway, my dad deferred the decision to my mother. 

“That’s not my call,” he said.

“Talk to your mother,” I repeated.

That was how my dad referred to her refinements.  He met her in college.  She controls the family purse strings.  So I called her.  She talked to Mrs. Dinsmore.  Next thing you know my mom is paying in full a one-year lease on the furnished studio below Madigan. 

© 2017 William Yasanari Harris

My Review

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Awesome.....looking forward to chapter 2.

Posted 2 Years Ago

It is evident you have been writing for awhile. The prose are sleak and well done. The descriptions of people make me smile. I would however suggest less small talk. The conversations while belivable could do with less.(talking about the weather, turning on the stove) With half the writing you could get the same amount information to your reader. There is nothing wrong with what you are doing and it is certainly still a good read but thats what stuck out to me.

Posted 2 Years Ago

0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I like it !! Waiting for chapter 2 :)

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

William Yasanari Harris

2 Years Ago

I'm glad you liked it. I posted 4 more chapters. I have a total of 12 rewritten chapters--this is .. read more
Amanda Moubarak

2 Years Ago

Great i'm going to read them in a bit. 👍👍👌👌

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3 Reviews
Added on October 3, 2017
Last Updated on October 3, 2017


William Yasanari Harris
William Yasanari Harris

Naperville, IL

Growing up as a child, I was a doodler. When I got in high school I took a Creative Writing course my junior year and quickly discovered words as a channel for my overactive imagination. After I was.. more..