Tribute to Jan Masaryk with Love and Gravitas

by John Kaufmann

This is part three. Read the suite from the beginning

The Web

“Shoes off?”

“If you would”.

I have just bought my park in northern New York, and Mike and I are standing in the threshold of the best home in the park. The floors are covered with clean carpet, and there is a gas-powered fireplace in the corner.  I’d live here.  The owners are Ben Mosca and his wife, Fran.  Ben asks, “You own the park long?” 

“A month or so.” 

“You got a lot of whack-jobs here.” 

“The entertainment is priceless.” 

Ben is a long-distance trucker.  He’s my age, skinny, gray-haired, mulletted, fit.  Fran stays at home, collects SSI.  Ben’s brother, Gabe, lives ten homes down from Ben.  Gabe’s home is nothing like Ben’s.  Rotting porch, convex roof, gapped skirting, dirty siding, unregistered car on blocks parked in front.  When I knock on Gabe’s door to dun him for lot rent, he sticks his head out of the storm door and growls at me, like a bear in the spring. Mike will tell me, “I spoke with Mosca today.” 

“Good Mosca or bad Mosca?” 

“Bad Mosca.” 

“Don’t tell me about Bad Mosca.” 

“Those guys really related?”

After nine months, Good Mosca begins to pay late.  We serve them with a 30-day notice.  Then, we learn that there is a mortgage on the home, and that the bank will foreclose.  Fran has spent the time Ben was on the road at the casino east of town.  There is a $30,000 lien on the home, and there is no way they can service it.  The lot lease is the least of their worries.  They are going to move out whether we evict them or not. 

I call the bank, ask if I can buy the home pre-repo.  Fill out some paperwork.  Jump through some hoops.  Stop in to speak with Ben and his sons about authorizations.  Their stuff is packed up.  They are subdued, polite, resigned to their fate.  “I am very sorry about what happened.” 

“She had a gambling problem.” 

Do they mind that I am asking them for help to buy their home for pennies on the dollar? 

“Take care of her.  It sounds like she needs it.” 

Mike gives the home a coat of paint and does some light cosmetic work.  A woman named Miriam, who lives in town and runs a home-care agency, wants to buy it.  She says she has a slug of insurance money coming within six months.  She can pay a little more than the principal amount of the Mosca’s loan plus my repair costs when she gets it; until then, she can pay $1,500 a month.  She moves in, and spruces the place up.  She hires Mike to stain her porch and to put in new cabinets.  She buys a custom-built refrigerator that is flush with her countertop, and a kitchen island.  I stop in to say “hi”, with Mike.  “Shoes off?” 

“Yes, please.” 

I could definitely live here

“You mind if I take a few pictures?” 

“Of course!” 

“I could send these to Architectural Digest.” 

Once the Franklins are gone, a tenant named Jim Funk tells Mike that his daughter, Danica, is interested in buying their home with her boyfriend, Tom Mosca.  “Any relation to Ben Mosca and his idiot brother?”  “They are all bugs to me.”  I am at the park, helping Mike and another tenant named Art clean up the Franklin mess.  The Sheriff had shown up at 9:00 sharp, straight out of central casting.  Fifty-five or sixty, five ten, stocky, white, bald head, fleshy, clean-shaven face, blue windbreaker that reads “Sheriff”.  Art had not been there in the morning; that puzzled me.  While we were waiting for the sheriff, I asked Mike, “Where’s Art?” 

“He’s Mrs. Franklin’s brother.  He thought it would be awkward if he were here when they were rausted.”

Danica and her grandmother, Jim’s mother, drive up to look at the home.  Before they step out of the car, Jim tells me, “That’s my mother.  You should hit on her.” 

“What’s her name?” 


“Sheila, Baby!” 

Sheila looks at me with narrowed eyes.  She is seventy, short, with steel gray hair and, like her son and granddaughter, bottom-heavy.  

“Sorry.  Jim told me to do that.” 

“You put him acrost your knee, and I’ll spank him.” 

“We usually don’t show homes until they are ready, but I understand that Danica is in a hurry.  Have a look.  It’s a mess, but I’ve seen worse.” 

“I was expecting much worse.” 

“It’s yours, if you want it.” 

“How much up-front?” 

We discuss terms.  They can buy the home for cash, or they can do a lease-option for a term of years.  Sheila’s eyes narrow.  “How much is it if we do the rent-to-own?” 

“Depends on when you buy it.  You can buy it after three, five or eight years.  The purchase price depends on the purchase date.” 

Slippery as an eel in a bucket of snot.

“Yeah-but how much is it?” 

She gets time value of money.  Good for her. 

“You can add up the payments for any of the three options and back out the lot rent.  It is always cheaper to buy up front.” 

“I’ll get a loan and pay it up-front.” 

“That is the best thing to do, if you can afford it.” 

“I want it in my name and Jim’s.” 

Smart lady. 

By now, Sheila, Jim and I are standing in the office.  Tom and Danica are at the home, measuring the cabinets.  I tell Sheila, “Bugs can’t buy homes in New York State.” 

“You sure you ain’t single?”

We walk back to the home, to inspect it further.  When we get there, Miriam is with the kids, critiquing the paint job.  Miriam, the lady who bought Ben Mosca’s home and fixed it up.  I ask Mike, “What is she doing here?” 

“She is Ben’s sister, and Tom’s mother.” 

“She’s a Mosca?” 

“I didn’t know till this morning.” 

“Be careful where you piss. It’s the gene pool.” 

“You can’t make this shit up, John.” 

“I couldn’t.”

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