57 Forgetting the Sauce

Mrs James rummaged through the depths of her work bag for a dropped crochet hook, retrieved it and glanced across the lobby. Gervase was admitting R.M. She beckoned him over by waving, like a flag of surrender, a white scarf currently in progress. Chapter 57 Forgetting the Sauce

“I was going to come and say hello. No need for the white flag.”

“I’m such a fixture here, like the statues in our public museum. I need a little movement to become real.”

“Milwaukee’s famous leaning janitor, at the art museum? I still double check when I walk past him, don’t you?”

“I cannot tell a lie. I do, too.”

“Gervase was just bringing me up to speed on events here. Are you well?” He added reassuringly, “I can see that you are.”

“Oh, I’m fine. I suppose one eventually gets over these kinds of shocks. What lingers is what it will all mean.” She rested the unfinished scarf in her lap.”It’s hard to accept that it happened here at all, or that anyone living here could be involved but it seems to be the way it’ll turn out.” The remarks of Morrie Mangold, from up in his lighthouse, occurred to R.M. “Though I’ve been wracking my brain, thinking of what I might know that I’ve forgotten.”

“Not sure I follow…?”

“My mother-in-law had a mental block every Thanksgiving. Ahead of time, she made apple and cranberry sauces, stashed them in the back of the fridge, and then forgot to serve them. Of course, we were all too polite to say anything was missing, especially from an already groaning table, but when one of the youngsters asked us to pass the applesauce she would jump up, muttering about being forgetful, and fetch the bowls. Funny what you remember, isn’t it?”

“Or what you forget. Unless something triggers a memory you might not think about it, even if you are deliberately trying to overcome some kind of block.”

“Yes that, and that trigger might be something apparently unrelated. That’s harder than remembering bowls of sauce.”

“Because those are part of the meal, you mean,” R.M. agreed. “You’re searching for an unassociated, and unretrieved memory.”

“Let’s hope not further back than sauce in a fridge, my memory being what it is!” Mrs. James decided not to share with R.M. what she now remembered about the towels, or lack of them. He wasn’t part of the investigation and she was more interested in hearing from him about how he remembered, not what.

“That happens. Like when someone recognizes me, or knows my name and I haven’t a clue who that person is. Sometimes it’s somebody I should have remembered from a previous transaction, but often enough it’s somebody I saw at another place like the grocery store, or in line to get a driver’s license renewed, that kind of thing.”

“I much prefer it when people come up to me and re-introduce themselves, don’t you? As in, ‘Hello, I’m so-and-so, do you remember me from such-and-such?’ Then you’re right in the loop, at once.”

“Those recollections usually come to me around three in the morning. If I’m very lucky, I’ll still remember when I wake up.”

“If I could change the subject a little, are you aware of any other condos where there’s been a drowning?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, though not necessarily in an indoor pool but in an outdoor, or even in a pond on the property. Each case is a different one.”

“Except for the loss of life. Not everyone feels sad about it. More inconvenienced, really.”

“It goes with the territory, or with property, perhaps. There’s understandably some concern of the effect on potential buyers down the road of an event like this.”

“Surely there’s a time to mourn?”

“Less time if you have a property to sell, to be blunt. The rules about what a seller is obliged to disclose are fairly straightforward, though. If you like, I can get you that language to review. We can talk about it. It gets a little dry, the adverse material fact.”

“Thank you, yes. The association is preparing to look into all this.”

“There’s also often a fear, not unwarranted, of additional expenses or a special assessment, depending on what action is taken,” R.M. explained. “Back to the condo docs!”

“Yes. I need a guide to reading them. It’s not like starting with the book of Genesis and reading straight through to Revelations, is it?”

“Many buyers seem determined to tackle them that way but it’s not really necessary. Much better to begin with the summary, then check out the sections that will most affect the buyer, such as pet policy, or other restrictions. Good to review the budget, the adequacy of the operating reserve, the level of maintenance, where the monthly fees are allocated. And there are only five days to rescind. Pointless getting bogged down in building descriptions, at the expense of finding out what’s most important to you.”

“Though I’m re-reading them for a different purpose, maybe you should write up that guide, call itĀ  ‘R.M. versus The Docs.'”

“You know that a set of condo docs once saved my life?”

Condo docs, short for condominium documents, required reading for the buyer

Condo docs, short for condominium documents, are recommended reading for the buyer

“How so?”

“It was years ago, in a shooting incident at a building site. Fortunately, I saw it coming and grabbed up the only thing at hand, a full copy of the newly printed condominium documents. The bullet entered them at an angle, ricocheted in pet policy, glanced sideways through window and door replacements, and came to rest only a few pages short of an exit right into me, finally lodging in the list of the attorneys who had drafted them, in the backside of the name of the lead lawyer!”

“Oh, R.M., really.”

“Thick, unreadable, and incomprehensible but they did the trick for me.”

“Is any part of that story true?”

“Yes and no, like all good stories. There have been reports of gun wielding and shots fired at construction sites. Guess it’s part and parcel of redevelopment and changing neighborhoods. I’ve had my share of menacing and physically threatening individuals. Last year, during a scheduled, pre-closing walk through on behalf of a buyer, a departing and presumably reluctant seller took a swing at me.”

“That’s terrible. I must say you have certainly been opening my eyes to what goes on in real estate.”

“It can be a lot more ‘real’ than people imagine. I hope I didn’t offend you with my joke.” R.M. glanced at his watch, and stood up to go. “Thanks for the referral you gave the Cabots. I really appreciate it.”

“Oh, are you here to see them? I simply told them you’d been so helpful to us and that you continued to know our building very well.”

“Talk to you soon, Mrs. James. I’d best be getting upstairs.”