Another Passage From the Novel

This scene takes place after Rachel learns that she has unforeseen problems with the foundation of the old house she has undertaken to restore.

“I can’t loan you any money on that old house, Rachel.”

“You haven’t seen it, Mike.  It’s a nice place now. Brad has done a great job with it.  It’s beautiful.”

“I don’t doubt it a bit.  I’ve seen his work, time and again, and he’s great, but that’s not the problem.”

“Why then?  What is the problem?”

“Well, there’s more than one.  In the first place, no matter how nice the place looks now – and I’m not arguing that it isn’t pretty – it’s only worth what somebody will pay for it.  In my judgement – and in the judgement of the loan committee – there is nobody in their right mind who would buy that place. Nobody would give you anything near what you’ve got in it.  People with that kind of money for a house are not looking to stay here, they’re looking to get out. Move to the Carolinas or Tennessee. You looked at the mall lately? Half the stores in town are closed.  Boarded up. We’ve only got one grocery store left in the whole town. You could put the Taj Mahal on that lot, Rachel, and nobody would want to buy it.

On top of that, I am sure you didn’t miss the fact that your next door neighbor’s house just burned to the ground.”

“I know.  The fire didn’t touch my place.  Not a bit.”

“No.  But it touches the neighborhood.  The insurance company thinks the fire was arson.  Thinks that the Johnsons set the house ablaze to recover on their policy because they wanted rid of the place and knew that they could never sell it.  That’s the kind of thing that the bank has to take into account. It affects value. It affects saleability.

“The Johnsons didn’t own that place.  They were renting.”

“Well.  It’s arson nonetheless.  Still marks the neighborhood as a dangerous place.

“On top of all that, of course, is the problem with the foundation of the house.  There are people on the committee who have already talked with Brad about that. He thinks he can fix it if we give you a loan.  We’re not as optimistic about that. You don’t know – and we can’t know – how deep that problem really is. It might be that it can’t really be fixed.  You just don’t know.”

“I’ve got to have some money.  The whole project hangs in the balance.”

“I can’t make the loan, Rachel.  But I have talked to someone who might get you out from under the place.”

“Not an arsonist, I hope.”

“No.  Well, not that I know of.  It’s Mike Simpson. They guy who runs the video lottery parlors up and down the highway here.”

“I know who he is.  I graduated with him.  I thought you said that nobody would want the place.”

“Simpson doesn’t need us.  Doesn’t need the bank. He can pay cash.  And he’s interested because he knows you’re in trouble here.  He thinks he can steal it, put in a bank of lottery machines and turn it into a money maker.”

“Never.”

“Well.  It may be your only option.  He’ll pay you something. You won’t get your investment back, but you’ll be out from under it and all this foundation work that has to be done.”

“Tell me this, Tom.  How is it that Mike Simpson knows about my situation?”

“He’s on the loan committee, Rachel.”

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