The Getaway
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Hereís one I bet youíve never heard before. Or maybe you have. What do I know?

So this woman moves into town from out of nowhere. We got maybe two thousand people down here. Two and a half maybe. And this woman from out of nowhere buys the Hallworthy placeóthe old 1896 Victorian. Cost her a pretty penny, even way out here.

Anyway, this womanís name is Alice Ketron. I say Key-tron the first time, but itís Ket-ron, she corrects me. ďItís a hard T,Ē she says. Sheís got a son and a daughter in that middle school age, and speaking in some sort of strange accent. Says she lived in British Columbia and Minnesota, but thereís something else in there too that I donít recognize. French maybe.

But get this: after I close the deal with her on the house, and all the financing is settled, she decides to rent the back half out. Smart, I say. Who needs three porches and five bathrooms? Says she needs the extra money.

  
 
Turns out to be an understatement.

Find out Miz Ketron is a card shark. Leaves her kids alone most weekends, drives up to Atlantic City, and wins or loses thousands. Real addict. Thatís why she lived up in Canada, Minnesota. Proximity to the Indian casinos. But round here she has to drive. Thatís how much she liked that house. The only reason I found out is from an old Minnesota police blotter: yeah, I do my homework.

So she gets one tenant. Nice guy. Works down at the country club. Cooking. She likes having a guy around--for safety she says. You never know, she says. He lives there for about a year, babysitting for Miz Ketron on the weekends, or getting one of the waitresses to help out. Didnít ask where she had to go. Didnít care.

He tells her heís moving, and she calls me to assist with the rental slot. Iím happy to oblige, of course. Has me over to get my advice on the rental worth. Iím walking through the most beautiful rooms you can imagine. Huge Victorian windows. Huge ceilings. Hardwood floors. Fireplace. This dime-a-dozen cook was living like a king.

ďUp the rent by a hundred,Ē I tell her. She has a bug-eyed weary look. I can tell sheís been hemorrhaging up in A.C. Needs the dough and fast.

Then we got this young lady come into town. Sees the classified. Wants to rent ASAP. She sees it and is literally bowled over. Starts writing checksódeposit, first monthís rent. Even offers Miz Kentron an extra hundred a month to make sure she got the place. Miz Ketronís not one to say no. The lady is set to move in three weeks.

Then the lady calls up three days later. Her job didnít turn out. She was going to teach at the college, but the funding didnít go through. Wants her money back. Twelve hundred.

As soon as Alice Ketron hears this, sheís gone. ďItís too bad because weíve already decided to move and rent this place out.Ē She sounds mock apologetic. I can hear her wheels turning. She asks me if I can handle renting the house out.

ďSure, but you need toóď

ďThatís good then,Ē she says. She hangs up. I swing by her house later that evening. Her and the kids and all their belongings--all gone. Maybe a spaceship swooped down and took them back to the mother planet. What do I know? Iíve never seen somebody dismantle their life so quickly. The professor lady was out that money. All gone.

A week later the news was Alice Ketron put a call through to the president of the college, after which he was very persuaded that the new hire was a bad seed. Maybe itís true, maybe itís not, but events sure rolled on from that point. What I think: Alice had it all on the table.

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