44 Cherry Street is an on-going tale of fictional characters at a fictional address in Black Mountain. Quite often the events reflect changes going on in our town, but sometimes they are notions from my twisted imagination.
These days Black Mountain is experiencing growing pains. Not long ago, we were the forgotten stepchild of Asheville, but we have been discovered and hordes of visitors are coming to Black Mountain and of course, many want to move here! (Don’t even think of finding a property for sale or rent unless your realtor is a magician and can pull a house out of her hat! Prices are going through the roof as are the prices of building materials.) The only prices not going up are the prices of objects in Cherry Street stores!
Lorraine was having a breakdown. It seemed that every day outsiders were showing up at 44 Cherry Street wanting to rent the exorbitantly priced renovated apartments in the old building. She and Frederick were the sole remaining tenants from the old days, and the landlord promised they could stay on at their original rent. Lorraine was concerned, though, because two of the three out-of-towners who had shown interest had walked away because they wanted all four units. She thought it was just a matter of time before Barry the landlord would change his mind about letting them stay. There was just so much money at stake.
Tripp from Charlotte had thought that the neighborhood did not measure up to the splendor of Charlotte, and he turned away. Both the devotees of the Bhagwan and the Obama family with their Secret Service people found the building too small and left.
Lorraine held on to the hope that several nice people would come along and rent the other three units, but as the rent for each tiny apartment was $2000 a month, the price eliminated most people who already live here.
Lorraine had just stepped outside to walk her new puppy, Peewee, when she heard what sounded like hoofs clattering on State Street. Santa Claus? Suddenly she saw a parade of camels turning the wrong way onto Cherry Street. Peewee started barking and growling. “Was the circus coming to town?” Lorraine asked herself.
Sitting astride the camels on unstable seats were men in long white robes and Arab head coverings. On the donkeys that trailed behind the camels were women in black burkas, their faces almost entirely covered. The caravan stopped in front of 44 Cherry. The man on the lead camel issued orders in a loud, guttural voice, and the men descended onto the street. Another, rougher command and the women scurried off the donkeys and ran around sweeping the camel dung that had already littered the street into colorful buckets.
The leader and one other man approached Lorraine on the front stoop and the shorter of the two spoke in accented English, “May I present the President Elect of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi. He wishes to purchase this meager building. I have the gold under my robes. To whom must I deliver the money?”
Lorraine looked from one man to the other and then at the women in burkhas scooping up dung. “You want what? To buy this building? How did you even hear about it?” Lorraine asked.
After an exchange between the two men, the shorter man spoke,”Your President mentioned that a fine building was available in this tiny town. My boss, the President-elect, wants a base of operations in your pitiful, sad country. He thinks this a good spot to keep his eye on you Americans.”
Lorraine was incensed! How dare they disparage the USA? “First of all,” she spat,” You were elected with only a small percentage of voters even showing up. Who do you think you are anyway?? And secondly, we do not allow camels on Cherry Street. Take your buckets of dung and go back where you came from!”
Raisi sneered and spewed a stream of strange words at Lorraine, then spat on the sidewalk. He issued a command and the circus left town.