84 By the Dawn’s Early Light

“Pick up your dirty socks, the sooner the better,” R.M. recommended to Sebastian. “Buyers coming in the morning, wanting to catch the morning light.”

“That’s pretty early, this time of the year.”Chapter84 By the Dawn's Early Light

“It is, and it’s not a request I usually make. Twenty-four hour notice is the norm and I’m well past that, scheduling the afternoon before. That said, is before they go to work okay with you?”

“Ouch. I’ll just sleep in my clothes. It’ll save time. No mess.”

“You’re what I call a co-operative seller.”

“I want to sell.”

“That’s what we call a ‘motivated’ seller. I assume Gervase will be just arriving, all bright and shiny like the sun they’re coming to see, but be prepared for me to buzz you, so you can let us in before you vanish.”

“Over and out.”

*   *   *   *   *

At seven on Wednesday morning R.M. met the Shels, to show them the Cabots’ unit. It faced south and west, half-right, according to their want list. They preferred a unit with morning light, the time of day they’d most likely be home and would most want a view. When they came home in the dark after work, the way the unit faced wouldn’t matter so much. As a south-east facing unit would be ideal but was currently unavailable, they’d agreed to take a look.

It was a glorious summer morning, unlike the rainy days of their previously scheduled showings. Gervase was not at his desk, so R.M. buzzed the unit. Sebastian buzzed back immediately then took the stairs down, to eliminate at least one drain on the old nag of an elevator’s energy level.

When quite young, he and Matthew had vacationed near a riding stable. His parents were delighted to find the place; it reminded them of the fun they’d had, they tiresomely enthused, at the stable in cottage country where as teens they’d first met. They’d even worked there one summer, each leading tentative riders, bridle in hand, ambling alongside an ancient horse on slow walks down featureless lanes. In the required fast-forward to their family holiday and these sedate, invariably flatland excursions, he and Matthew dutifully mounted the steeds, pitiably and inaptly named, unwilling retirees from less restricted pasts: Prince, Queenie, Titan, Dolly.  He headed to Hans’ place to drag him out for burning hot coffee and a tepid but childhood-free perspective, delivered with the adult precision of the here and the now.

Upstairs at the Shels’ request, R.M. first corralled the Cabots’ cats, then let his buyers loose to explore. It would take a bit of time for them to take it all in, get the feel of the place. He settled himself at the breakfast bar, nursing his own cup of early morning perspective. The Shels heeded their own medical advice and drank in each others’ company, rather than caffeine-laden, apparently mind distorting beverages. R.M. quite liked the distortion coffee offered, the java-esque perception of the first sip, the remaining echoes in the ones that followed. Coherence came with the brown brew, and an ability to answer questions without the snap and snarl of early mornings.

“We do like it, the layout, the features,” said Shel, watching Michelle lingering by the balcony door. “It could work. It’s a corner, and the light is there to the south but without the sunshine.”

“We’d have to be on the balcony to really see the lake or get much sun,” said Michelle. “So it’s good, just not perfect. Should we wait until a more eastern facing one comes up?”

“Your choice. As you see, there are a lot of factors in place, not to mention the overall condition of a particular unit.”

“This unit appears to be in excellent shape.”

“We call it ‘move-in’ condition. Bring your furniture and clothes.”

“And if we wait for something else this one could sell in the meantime.”

“It does happen. You have to decide what works best for you. No buyer’s remorse.”

“What’s that?”

“A buyer makes a choice, arranges a deal, drifts off happily to sleep, his signed contract under his pillow, awaiting his just, fairy-laden reward for enduring the process. He awakes panic-stricken, over-committed, and wanting out. But usually it’s not so bad, is resolvable in the reasonableness of the next day. Maybe it’s just not perfect.” R.M. waxed philosophical, especially when his cup was empty. “Perfection is often unattainable, isn’t it?”

“We’ll think about it. It’s a brand new listing,” said Shel.

“Yes. Mine, if you read the fine print. Let’s try the solarium again so you can see how the lake looks early.” They waited for the elevator.

“Is it always this slow?”

“It’s a chronic complaint.” He’d noticed it himself, that a showing here took somewhat longer. Other buildings had banks of elevators, or at least two. “It’s one of those things to factor in.” Off to one side of the solarium room was a jumble of oversize bags and cardboard boxes.

An eastern view of Lake Michigan, at mid-day, in summer.

An eastern view, at mid-day, in summer, with the lagoon in the foreground, of Lakeshore State Park and marina, the breakwater, and beyond of Lake Michigan.

“Good morning,” Gervase greeted them.

“My early birds want to check out the morning look of the place.”

“Today, that includes the set-up of our new ping-pong table. Please pardon our dust.”

“They really just came up to see an eastern exposure at this time of day.” The Shels headed for the windows. “”Explains why the elevator was so slow, so early. Where is all this going?”

“Greg Mendel donated the table. We’re setting it up away from the lakeside seating area and erecting barriers, so players aren’t chasing escaped balls all over the whole floor.”

“Is it one of those convertible pool tables?”

“No. Apparently there was sufficient enthusiasm for just the ping-pong.”

“It’s true there’s been a resurgence of interest. Do you play?”

“Guessing I’m destined to be everyone’s back-up partner, so I stand a good chance of getting pretty good. You?”

“My wife gives a good game.” The Shels came back. “Any thoughts?”

“I’m surprised at how bright it is.” Michelle looked a bit sheepish.

“Blinding, you mean,” said Shel. “Uncomfortable, almost. A real wake-up call, every morning.”

“It wasn’t that bad, Shel. It’s not like we’d be staring into the sun, Aztec-like, all the time.”

“It is bright off the lake,” R. M. observed.

“Many people use louvers or sheers to manage it, especially with walls of east-facing windows,” said Gervase. “The light is indirect later in the day, dark almost, some people feel, especially when there is no exposure at all to the west. Opposite is true of only west-facing units. Corners offer a day-long progression of natural light, whether or not you’re actually seeing any sun. Come winter, the sun is lower and later and creeps farther inside from the south. An east-facing unit will catch only a glimpse of sun before it swings south for the day. One reason that residents like this solarium.”

“Your ideal may turn out to be not what you like, after all,” continued R.M. “Something else might work just as well. We could set up a late evening showing to see the difference.”

“I hate getting up in the dark,” Michelle groused. “Makes me crabby just thinking about it.”

“How about early ping-pong matches to set you up?” Shel challenged.