Crossing over the Tenth St. Bridge in Olympia, Washington, Jennifer searched for Capitol Way. Midmorning sun was shining in the rain capitol. Finding it, she traveled north to Cascade Street, then Boulevard. Helen Westerbrook, her friend from Crabshell Alliance, the west coast anti-nuclear sister organization to the east coast Clamshell Alliance, stood arms akimbo in her driveway, grinning.
“You’re early. Couldn’t wait to see my radical ass?”
Jennifer pulled into the small gravel parking lot where three vehicles sat; a VW van, Ford pickup, and late model Volvo. Helen lived on twenty acres close to the suburbs outside Capitol City. Rent was cheap. Their landlady was waiting to get two million dollars for her property. The six-bedroom farmhouse and acreage would become a new housing development when events and time evolved to her price. But Helen couldn’t understand her stubbornness. As time went on, two million wouldn’t be as valuable as current money. Helen always made the roommates pay their rent on time to keep in her landlady’s good graces.
With their political agenda they had to be careful, upright standing citizens, and responsible.
Hugging Helen, Jennifer stood looking at her friend for a minute, absorbing her vibrant energy, and assessing how long her blond braid was now. The sturdy, muscular body, and rich brown eyes stared back at her. It’d been five years since they’d been in the Architecture and Design group, together, at The Evergreen State College, in Olympia. Now Helen was a draftsman in an interior design studio and a half-time anti-nukes protester. They’d been two of the four women in the twenty, classmate program at Evergreen.
‘We haven’t been able to find another roommate, so this is your room until you figure what you’re going to do.” mentioned her host as they crested the stairs to the second floor.
Jennifer gazed out the big, west-facing, window across the pasture, “Well, I’ve some money from the sale of my Alfred house and would be happy to pay you for room and board while I’m here.”
Helen smiled, “That’s what I like about your Virgo self, on top of it all the time. Sure, float us two hundred bucks for the first month. Then we’ll assess you.”
After a few days in Olympia, Jennifer went on a road trip. In the Olympia paper she’d seen an ad for an acre property in a village on the Washington Coast. Along with a job advertisement for an innkeeper at an historic inn within the same place; she needed a house and studio, as well as a job while she built her facilities.
The real estate agent, Max, met her at a run down blue house sited on a vast field of unkempt grass, blackberry vines, and scotch broom. Walking down the stone and dirt drive, Jennifer saw there was large barn, and a small cottage behind. After perusing the grounds she gave her contact information to Max, for further information.
Next she drove to a green and yellow painted Victorian Inn, the sign read Sheldrake Inn and restaurant. Inside the lobby was a long ornate desk with a brown haired, mousey looking, man on the telephone. As Jennifer waited, she looked at the period perfect furnishings in dark wood and elaborately designed upholstery fabrics.
As the ferret-like nose of the innkeeper rose with his emotionless face from the phone call’s end, Jennifer spoke, “ Hello, I’m Jennifer Harrington Jones, from Olympia, I saw your ad for an innkeeper…”
“Do you have culinary experience?” blurted the man.
Jennifer was put off by his rudeness. She’d introduced herself, but he’d paid no attention and begun to ask her questions. It made him seem desperate.
“Why, yes, I was a chef and baker while I put myself through college at one point. I know my way around a stove.”
“Good, what about math skills. Keep accounts much?”
Jennifer could not believe this guy, she hoped he wasn’t the owner, “ Yep, I know metric too.”
The desk clerk stared at her as if she was speaking Serbian, “Ok.” He bent down and pulled a document out from under the desk, “Here, fill this out.” He laid a pen next to the paper, put out his hand, and introduced himself, ”Daniel. My wife’s Laurel, we own the inn.”
As Jen shook his hand, she asked, “May I ask about the job and it’s requirements?”
“Oh, sure. Check guests in. We have fifteen rooms, more on the way when our wing gets built. Attend to guest needs. Bake pastries the night before. Cook breakfast, starting at seven a.m. Check guests out. Supervise the housekeeping staff. Follow our instructions.”
“Sounds do-able. What’s the salary?”
Daniel paused for a while, squirrels scurrying around his brain, “ Three hundred a week with an apartment in back.”
Hum, Jen thought, no living expenses. I could work on my property, build the studio, when I had days off. Twelve hundred a month, decent.
“Thanks, “ I’ll consider it.”
Jennifer left, her heart beating in her chest and brain. She drove back to Olympia to Helen’s. Climbing the stairs up to her room, collapsing, mind whirling. I arrived in the N.W. three days ago. Tomorrow, I’ll drive to Seaview and buy the property.
Jennifer woke, ate breakfast and apologized to Helen about her abrupt leaving, “Keep my money. I’m buying a property on the Long Beach Peninsula. When all is done I’ll call you and invite you down.”
Jennifer walked towards the Seaview real estate office. Max, a skinny, grey suited, guy opened the door as she approached.
“I‘d like to buy the property in Seaview, Washington we looked at a few days ago.”
“Well let me look up the details.” He paused, looking through files. sitting down at his desk he asked, “Do you have a down payment of $1580.00”
“What is the full price for that bedraggled piece of earth?” asked Jennifer huffily.
“ Fine.” Jennifer took out her checkbook. “Here’s $39,000. It includes your commission, right?”
Max looked at her in amazement. No one on the peninsula had the full price for a property. “Uh, yes,” he replied.
After signing the papers and tucking them into her file folder, Jennifer drove to her new bank. Opening the safe deposit box with her key, she slid the file into the steel receptacle. Now the property was hers, cheaper than anything in Olympia.
The next morning she told the ferret faced man, Daniel, she’d take the job at the inn.
“Start next week?” he asked.
“Sure.” answered Jennifer.
Driving back to Olympia she gathered up her clothes and belongings to prepare for her trip down south.
Back at the real estate office, Max wished he’d asked more for this piece of dirt as he submitted the papers to the county.