I passed by 44 Cherry Street on my way to the bank and wasn’t surprised to see troops of workmen digging up the yard and tearing appliances and sheetrock out of the building. Lorraine had told me that the owner wanted to renovate so he could attract a higher caliber renter to the building. It was kind of unsettling to me, though, because I liked things the way they had been. Of course I loved Lorraine, but I also enjoyed stories about the rest of the crew.
Just as I was imagining the type of tenant that would be attracted to the newly renovated building, I had to jump aside as a Jaguar having trouble parallel parking, ended up halfway up on the sidewalk just inches from where I stood. The driver leapt out of the shiny new car and called out to me in a loud honking voice, seemingly unaware of his poor parking, “Miss, is this 44 Cherry Street?” He sounded incredulous as he gazed at the wreckage before him.
I told him that this was indeed 44 Cherry and he looked back and forth from the ruined building to a newspaper he held in his hand. “Can’t be!” he declared. “Take a look at this ad!”
He handed me the newspaper which turned out to be the Charlotte Observer opened to the real estate section. I read the ad he had circled in red ink:
“Available to the discriminating renter, a unique apartment in a vintage building in Black Mountain. This unit has a panoramic view of central Black Mountain with its quaint small town charm and its splendid arts festivals and active music scene. You will be steps from the elegant restaurants and bars of this charming hamlet. Completely renovated one bedroom apartment with marble tiles and kitchen island along with original rich oak floors and woodwork. Just $2000 per month. This unit is soon to be rented, so get here fast.”
“I ask you,” he demanded. “Does this look like the building in question?”
He looked across the street at the Town Pump and asked me,”Would that be one of the elegant bars?” Just then one of the regulars at the pump hocked a luggie into Cherry Street from his perch on the wall outside the bar.
I didn’t know what to say to this guy, but something about him looked familiar. He had sun-streaked blonde hair, pink trousers and Docksiders with no socks. He wore a Ralph Lauren polo shirt with the collar popped up. “Do I know you?” I asked.
“Oh! How rude of me!,” he went on. “I’m Parker Myer the third, but just call me Tripp. I’m dying for a little place to use to escape from the traffic and congestion of Charlotte. It’s just mad down there, you know! It’s hard to get a decent tee time at the club, and the town is crawling with Yankees!”
I introduced myself to Tripp and left it at that. I knew lots of people like Tripp from Charlotte and wasn’t excited about seeing him and his friends in Black Mountain. But it wasn’t up to me, was it?