Townhouse Excerpt

Sara turned to her left to see her fiancee girlishly skipping back over to her. 

“Find anything interesting?” she asked. “Is there a swimming pool?”

“Just trash cans,” Max said, scrubbing his right shoe against the pavement to remove a dirty piece of gum. “There might have been an outdoor spa. I just wasn’t looking hard enough.”

He put his back against the door of unit number one and wrapped his right arm with Sara’s left. “How are you doing?”

“I’m fine. I just have to pee. Is the landlord coming?”

“He should be here any second.”


Sara could feel her headache returning, but she decided to concentrate more on her escalating need to urinate. She pressed lightly against her stomach and turned her attention downward. Even though she was two months pregnant, she wasn’t showing yet. She was happy about that. She didn’t want to get any fatter than she felt she already was.   

“Umm, excuse me—”

Max jumped forward, not expecting a shrill voice from behind. A young blonde woman exited unit one.

“Oh!” Max shouted. “I’m sorry about that.”

“No problem,” she said. “Hi, I’m Katie.”

“Max. Hello.”

Then someone else walked out, a tall fellow who was either this Katie girl’s husband or gay best friend. Of course he couldn’t take his eyes off Max, so Sara naturally assumed another homosexual roamed the complex. Is everyone in this town gay? I mean, seriously?

Katie continued with the introductions. “Brian, this is Max. Max, this is…”

Sara took a few steps away from the haphazard conversation and made her way down the staircase in the hopes that she’d spot the landlord. Still nobody. Then the thought entered her head: What street is this, anyway?

She made her way down the second staircase and out onto the main sidewalk. She walked all the way over to the left side of the complex to see the street sign. Canterbury.

Like The Canterbury Tales? Sara thought. We’d live on a literary street. How fitting.  

An ear-splitting dog bark caught her attention from her right, and Sara turned to see a man standing just yards away, smoking a cigarette, supervising his three girly poodles as they proceeded to poop on the neighbor’s front lawn. Sara smiled at the dogs, briefly, before meeting her eyes with those of the old man. They were cold and calculating, like they were burning a hole right through her fetus-infested belly. He was pale and gaunt, with a scruffy goatee and light, graying hair. He wore a thin black sweatshirt and loose shorts that looked like sweatpants cut off from below the knees. Oddest of all was a pair of long white socks that stretched from the bottom of his feet to the top of his shorts. He looked like a mix of a homeless man, a serial killer, and an animal-friendly eccentric. He didn’t look away. He just kept staring at Sara as if he wanted to feed her to his dogs for dinner.

Sara turned around and started walking back toward the complex. Every few steps she turned around to survey the scary fellow, who could’ve been as young as forty and as old as eighty—she couldn’t really tell. Finally he stopped looking at her and instead focused his attention back on his ferocious mutts. When Sara made her way back to the first staircase, she hid behind a large, decaying plant and watched as the irregularly dressed man walked his three dogs around the corner and down the left side driveway of the complex.

Something’s not right with this guy…

“Mrs. Pharoah?”

Sara screamed. She couldn’t help it. Not only did the voice behind her take her by surprise, but the shock of hearing those two godawful words for the first time made her heart stop beating for a second.  

She turned around to see a middle-aged man so disgustingly obese she wanted to start digging through her pockets for a slice of cheesecake she could pass over to him. He wore a thin pair of glasses, and looked dressed for a day out on the links.

“Oh, hi! Are you the landlord?”

“That’s me. Where’s your husband?”

“My what?” She couldn’t help but laugh. “We’re not… you know… married.”

He made his way so close to Sara’s face that she could smell the strong stench of marijuana reeking from his tight-fitted golf shirt. “Oh, that’s right. You’re the couple who’s only engaged. Is that correct?”

“That’s correct!” Max shouted, jumping stupidly down the two staircases and immediately shaking hands with the fat man.  

“Great,” the landlord said. “So now we’re all here. Who’s ready to see the unit?”