Into the Memento: Nick Part 2


So around the back of the building we went to find a steep rickety flight of stairs. 

The girl points.  “Up there.  No one’s there for months so don’t blame us for the mess.”

“Thanks, kid,” Nick says.

She walks off, mumbling something that sounds a lot like “Jerk-off” in Russian.  Why I remember that from my community college class, I’m not sure.

Clearing his throat, Nick draws my attention as he begins to read in a very pseudo-professional voice, “Ms. Quinn, this property is a pristine rental office, once home to Bellevue’s first Hispanic dentist.”

I can’t help but smile.  He’s sure making a go of it.  “Well, then, let’s take a look.”

Nick reads as he heads up, me following:  “This property, a former dentist’s office, offers 850 square feet of space.  It opens with a spacious reception are, has 3 additional offices or patient rooms, a small break room, 3/4 bath, and storage/utility room.  Lots of windows lend it a bright airy feeling.  Recently updated HVAC.”

We don’t get far.  At the landing, Nick struggles with a keyring full of keys, none of which seem to work.  “Huh.  I coulda sworn.”

I fold my arms patiently.

Nick sighs.  “Oh Hell.”

He jimmies the door open with practiced skill then blithely ignored my raised eyebrow.

“Ah, well, obviously we’ll need to get that lock fixed.”

And in following with the rest of this appointment, the spacious office is revealed to be an utter dump, cluttered and dusty from disuse.  The drop ceiling is missing tiles, the floor is strewn with abandoned boxes of assorted medical nonsense.  A stack of unopened boxes of latex gloves sits in the middle of reception.  Whatever windows there were are either boarded or dry-walled over.  Convenient for me.

“Ah, charming.”

Nick checks the paper again.  “I don’t understand.  It says the last occupant was six months ago.  This place could be hiding Osama.”

“Or Jimmy Hoffa.”

“Who’s that?”

I shake my head.

“I’m really sorry.  If I’d know, I would have maybe had my brother come by and clean up.  He owns a cleaning service.  They do a really great job.  The specialize in medical facilities and labs.”

latexDespite the disarray, the place isn’t that bad.  The windows are mostly covered, the offices are of good size, and with this and the deli being the only occupants for the small building, no one to hear anything strange.  I’m taking stock of any other updates when I hear Nick sigh.

“I’ve really screwed this up, haven’t I?”

“How long have you been in training?”

“About 3 weeks.  This is only my second showing.”

“And the first?”

“Was much nicer than this.  It was a slam dunk.”

I smile.

“You don’t believe me.  How could you?  I’m wearing this stupid suit because the cleaners screwed up my order, my boss’s jackhole manager hands me a stack of day-old printouts and tells me to go run up some business while my boss is out sick.  I must look and sound pretty pathetic.”

I decide to let him roll on in his pity party.

“Here’s the deal.  There’s, like, a million years of cobwebs in here and I wouldn’t doubt Aragog is lurking somewhere in the back.  With the deli downstairs, I guarantee it’ll smell like borscht at all hours and from the look of it, they cater down to the locals.  I swear I thought to check for missing cat signs when I parked.  But I can get my brother to come in and get this place so clean you could make microchips off the floor.  All for a low price.  And the windows, well, I’ll figure something out.”

“Sounds like a lot of effort for you personally.”

“I really need a break.”

“Tell you what.  How much do you make at this job?”

“Not nearly enough.”

“Saving up for something special?”

I get the wary look from him.  “Yeah, art school.”

“Hmm, you get me this property for four months no strings and all the other things you already said, ready by end of day Monday, and I’ll pay you 800 a week to manage the office for me while I’m in town.  I’ll pay you a flat two grand on signing as an advance.”

“Are you serious?”

“Sorry it’s not a longer arrangement but I tend to move a lot.  I think that should go quite a ways toward…uh, art school, was it?”

Culinary school, really.”

“Ah.”

“What are you, the mafia?  Drug dealer?”

“Yeah, me and Jimmy Hoffa.”

“Huh?”

“No.  I offer specialized counseling to folks kinda on the fringe.  And for now, until we have a deal, that’s all I’ll say.”

Then his look turns suspicious.  “Why me?”

“Because you’re a solver.  You know how to best maneuver in uncomfortable situations to get a favorable outcome using more finesse than force.”

“We speaking strictly about the door?  Cause I’m not a thief or anything.”

I laugh.  “No.  And I like you.  I just get this really strong sense we’re meant to be friends.”

“Uh, yeah, ok.  Um.  I really don’t think I’m exactly what you’re looking for, Ms. Quinn.”

“Nick, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m not hitting on you.”

“Uh, ok.  Sorry.  Not sure why I thought that.  I mean, of course you’re not , I mean.  You don’t exactly scream ‘cougar.’  Trust me, I’ve seen my share over at Jerry’s some nights.”

“Waiter by night?”

“Bartendar.”

“Well, you’re full of useful talents.”

“Um, ok.”

“Besides, those of us of the faith have to keep an eye out for opportunities to put others on the path.”

I point to his talisman.  Someone has chosen Dharma for him.

“Huh?  Oh this.  I’m not sure how much I still believe.  Nirvana seems such a long ways away from Seattle.”

I smirk.

“Ok, that sounded really stupid.  I meant about believing.”

“Well, Nick Sakaki, you see there, I might be able to help you out.”

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