The unrelenting knock at the door shook Val Williams out of her dream-state. She’d arrived home, dead tired, from a full day on the job not more than ten-minutes before the interruption.
“I’m coming,” she called out, lifting from the side of the bed. Barefooted and still in her work clothes, she headed down the stairs, repeating her claim, “Hold on. I’m coming.” She stopped at the edge of the tattered steps, trying to peek through the faded sheer white curtains covering the living room window. It was the UPS man holding a flat folder. When she cracked open the door, the tall man, clean-shaven and wearing a dark brown uniform and a fake smile said, “Hello.”
Val released a soft, “Hi,” and a weary smile.
The gentleman handed her a clipboard with a form to sign. When she completed her signature, he shoved a large envelope at her and said as dry as the desert, “Have a nice day,” without breaking a crease in his face. It had already turned dark outside, she thought, referencing the man’s parting words. She closed the door after watching him walk away then examined the envelope, mildly curious, yet, guessing it probably involved Momma’s affairs.
She put on a pot of Maxwell coffee then opened the packet with her thumb. Inside she found papers from an attorney’s office regarding the mortgage. Oh, boy, this can’t be good, she thought. Her heart felt as if it were going to pound right out of her chest. The letter read:
This letter is to advise you of the loan secured by the above referred property, which may involve foreclosure proceedings against said property based on unpaid principal balance, unpaid accrued interest, escrow/impound shortages or credits, late charges, legal fees/costs, and other miscellaneous charges. Unless you notify us within thirty days from the date of this letter, we will assume that the debt is valid and will proceed with the process of foreclosing the above said property.
James Johnson & Roy Steinberg, LLC
Val’s hand shook to the point she’d knocked over her cup, spilling its contents over the table and the envelope. Every ounce of optimism she had about handling Momma’s obligations drained from her body like air seeping from a balloon with a pin-size hole in it. Her head began to pound. Everything seemed muddled with the thought of losing the house. She couldn’t handle the debt by herself with her present income. Unless Ed McMahon came knocking with a winning sweepstakes, there was no way around telling Karen what was going on.
Val had managed a lifetime of mendacity, especially where Karen was concerned. She tried to spare her of the truth, hers and Momma’s, in fact. She knew that Karen had gone through a barrage of emotions, starting a new job and all. Bills shouldn’t be another thing Karen needed to worry about. So Val held her secrets as best she could.