Zach and Charlie thought California was such a beautiful state. They wanted to see more of it, so they decided to travel north to San Francisco and see what it was all about.
A few days later, they bought two Greyhound bus tickets, and were on their way. On their trip they discussed their financial situation. Although they were still living comfortably, they thought it would be wise for them to follow their accountant’s advice and settle down somewhere. He said they needed to invest in some property, a business, or something lucrative. They needed to increase their tax deductions. Zach and Charlie decided that when they arrived in San Francisco, and if they liked it there, they would start looking into some investment properties.
In just a little over six hours, they arrived in San Francisco. They immediately checked into the Baldwin Hotel. It was a European-style hotel located in downtown San Francisco, next to Chinatown and one block from Union Square. It was a narrow hotel that sat on the corner of Grant Avenue and Harlan Place.
After a few days of sightseeing, they talked about looking in the Bay area for a home. They both thought the scenery was amazing, and they would be happy living there. They loved the crisp climate of San Francisco. Although they liked Los Angeles, San Francisco was a lot greener and cooler near the bay.
One sunny morning, they walked down Bay Street to Fisherman’s Wharf, a trolley car rumbled up the street. They thought it was the neatest thing. They walked all the way to Taylor Street and stopped to rest outside of the Boudin Sourdough Bakery. The Boudin family owned the bakery since 1849 when it was established by Isidore Boudin, son of a family of master bakers from Burgundy, France.
A delicious smell of warm bread flowed from the bakery. The fabulous odor was making Charlie hungry. He couldn’t hold out any longer and eventually went inside. Zach stayed outside and waited for the realtor he had spoken to on the phone the prior day. They had agreed to meet in front of the bakery that morning.
Charlie became disappointed when he learned the bakery didn’t have any sourdough pretzels. However, they had plenty of other delicious breads and loaves that he closely examined. He immediately saw something that caught his eye. They were called sourdough baguettes, and they looked delicious. He purchased eight baguettes before leaving the bakery.
“Did they have your pretzels?” Zach asked.
“No, but I got these instead,” Charlie said pulling a baguette out of the bag. He broke it in half and handed a piece to Zach.
“Looks good, what is it?”
“It’s a baguette.”
“What’s inside it?”
“Raisins and chunks of dark chocolate. It’s made with sour dough,” Charlie said.
Zach took a bite. The baguette was still warm on the inside, and the little chunks of chocolate were slightly melted, and the raisins were soft and chewy. “Mmm, this is so good,” he said chewing with his mouth full.
Within seconds, Charlie devoured his piece.
“Did ya even taste it?”
“Of course, it was delicious,” Charlie said. “So, what time are we supposed to meet this realtor guy?”
Charlie checked his watch. It was eight fifty-eight. “And where’s this house again?”
“Piedmont, just outside of Oakland.”
Suddenly a blue Chevy pulled up in front of the bakery. The lettering on the car door read BAY REALITY with a telephone number under it. “This must be him,” Zach said.
A heavy man climbed out of his car making it rock back and forth. He adjusted his pants pulling them up over his large belly. Then he removed a toothpick from his mouth and slid it in the breast pocket of his shirt as he approached them. “You fellas must be Zach and Charlie,” he said squinting his eyes. He was already out of breath by the time he reached them.
“How’d ya know?” Zach asked.
“Well, on the telephone you mentioned you were—”
“Stunningly handsome?” Zach said wearing a straight face. The realtor was stunned and didn’t know what to say. “I’m only teasing ya pal.” He reached out his hand. “I’m Zach Mullins, and this little guy here is Charlie Franklin.”
The realtor shook Zach’s hand and smiled politely at his humor. Then he shook hands with Charlie. “Tom Smolski, pleased to meet you.” He glanced at the paper bag Charlie was holding from the bakery. “What you got there, baguettes? They sure smell good. Be careful or you’ll look like me soon,” he said with a chuckle. It was a hearty laugh that made his entire stomach jiggle. He knew he was over weight, but he had a good sense of humor—usually being the butt of his own jokes.
“Would ya care for one?” Charlie asked.
“No, thanks,” Smolski said. “Just smelling them will make me gain a pound, and if I see one I’ll gain two.” He slapped Charlie on the shoulder and began to chuckle again.
Being Zach was the same level as Smolski’s stomach, he couldn’t help but notice Smolski’s belly jiggle when he laughed. Zach found it strangely amusing, it reminded him of Jello.
Smolski turned and gestured to his car with his oversized hand. His fingers were thick and looked like little sausages. “Well, gentlemen,” he said, “if you care to get in, I can take you to the property we discussed over the phone.”
Zach was eager to see the house. He only knew what Smolski had described to him over the telephone, and Charlie didn’t know what to expect.
As Smolski them drove through the small and affluent neighborhood of Piedmont, it looked extremely appealing with hillsides, eloquent homes with green manicured lawns and colorful flowers. The streets were peaceful and clean. Zach and Charlie loved the neighborhood so far and couldn’t wait to see the house. They turned down one picturesque street after another, and passed large houses with sprawling yards until the car began to slow down. It had finally stopped in front of a house with a for sale sign posted on the front lawn.
From the car’s windows Zach and Charlie could see immaculately pruned shrubs in front of the house. It created a natural fence that surrounded the front yard that was shaded with trees. The house had two stories. The roof was peaked and was covered in slate with three small dormers that overlooked the front yard. There was a brick walkway that led to the front door under the overhang that opened into a spacious porch. The house was simple, yet quaint. When they exited the car, they tried to take it all in. “Lordy Lord,” Charlie said.
“She’s sure is a beauty,” Zach added.
Smolski walked briskly to the house fondling a set of keys. “Wait until you see the inside,” he said sliding a key into the door. He held the door open for them as they slowly entered the quiet and empty house.
When they stepped through the doorway, they were very impressed. The interior was as spacious and charming as the exterior. They stood in the foyer and surveyed the room carefully. Directly before them stood a staircase that led to the second level, and to the left was a spacious living room.
Smolski entered the living room and opened a window to let in some air—the walk from his car had made him sweat and his breathing labored. He removed a handkerchief from his pocket and patted the beads of sweat that had formed on his forehead. “Feel free to make yourself at home,” Smolski said. “Go ahead and look around.”
The window trim and thick moldings were gleaming white against the freshly painted walls. From the ajar window, a warm breeze blew through the room. The scent of freshly cut grass from the house next door flowed through the window and into the house.
Charlie closed his eyes and inhaled. He loved the smell of freshly cut grass. It had taken him back home to Mississippi for a moment.
Smolski moved to the stone fireplace against the outside wall. Then he placed his hand on the sturdy stone. “This fireplace will come in handy on chilly nights.”
Zach and Charlie walked through the living room to a hallway that led to the back of the house. There was a small room to the right that could be used as a bedroom or office. Across from the room was a small bathroom. At the end of the hall, they entered a large kitchen with a window over the sink that brightened the room. They noticed two doors to the left of the sink, and discovered one was for the walk-in pantry, and the other led outside to a spacious backyard, which was also neatly manicured.
Smolski led them back into the living room. Zach and Charlie thought the house was lovely and were extremely impressed with what they had seen. “I’m gonna checkout upstairs!” Charlie said. He brushed past Zach and Smolski and raced up the staircase.
“Aren’t you gonna take a look?” Smolski asked.
“Nah, my knees aren’t fond of stairs any longer,” Zach said.
“Tell me about it,” Smolski replied. “My wife is hounding me to lose weight. I guess it’s not a bad idea, but it’s hard the older you get.”
“You can say that again,” Zach said. He placed his hand on the fireplace and felt the stone it was made of. He and Smolski could hear Charlie’s heavy footsteps nimbly cross the ceiling.
“Zach, there’s three bedrooms up here, and a bathroom,” Charlie called down.
“It appears he’s excited about the house,” Smolski said.
They heard Charlie’s heavy footsteps cross the ceiling again. “Zach, there’s another bathroom in the big bedroom!” Charlie said.
“The master bedroom,” Zach and Smolski said together and chuckled.
“There’s also a huge walk-up attic,” Smolski said to Zach.
“Zach, there’s a big attic too,” Charlie said. “Ya gotta see this!”
“I guess he found it,” Smolski said. He and Zach giggled, they both found Charlie’s enthusiasm amusing. “Aren’t you going to take at least one look?”
Zach looked around the room and imagined where he would place a large fancy radio. He grinned at Smolski. “I don’t have to, it’s wonderful.”
Suddenly Charlie appeared at the base of the stairs with bated breath. He looked exhilarated. “What a beautiful house. What do ya say, Zach? Ya think we should buy it?”
Zach winked at Smolski, then he watched how his enormous stomach began to jiggle as he laughed. Zach found it entertaining. Jello.