Friday, May 4, 2012

The Rent


            His crossed arms answered her question before he spoke.
            “Please Mr. Weitz,” Karen begged before he could refuse. “I know Mum is behind on the rent. I have most of it now. I’ll get you the rest after my shift on Saturday. I’ll even give you a deposit on next month’s rent. Please don’t evict us.”
            She pushed the crumpled pile of small bills into his hands. Mr. Weitz’s expression softened.
            “Karen, you’ve always been a good girl. But you’re mother is becoming a problem. The other tenants complain about her and now she’s drinking the rent money.”
            She pressed the money tighter into his hands.
            “It’s just this once, Mr. Weitz. You know how hard Mum works at the laundry. She hit a rough patch. I’m earning enough at the diner to pay the rent.”
            “Karen, you’ve talked about saving for secretarial school since you graduated. How are you going to do that when you’re paying the rent, too?”
            “What choice do I have Mr. Weitz? She’s my only family. We’ve been through hard times before. We’ll make it.”
            He touched the side of her head and patted her coal black curls admiring her spirit.
            “You’re father always brought you with him when he came to pay the rent. You danced around my office in your pretty little dresses.”
            “You used to give me lemon drops.”
            “I remember. I’ll make you a deal. If your mother to apologizes for what she said, I’ll give you another chance.”
            “She’ll agree,” Karen said. “She has too much pride to be down for long. We’ll be back on track with the rent in no time.”
            “I don’t need an apology for being late with the rent. Anyone can get behind. It’s the things she said when I came to collect. She isn’t the only one with pride around here.”
            “Mr. Weitz? What did she say?”
            His eyes were glassy and he looked away.
            “What did say?”
            He straightened his back and looked her straight in the eye.
            “She called me a kyke and a shylock.”
            Karen shook her head. She didn’t want to believe her mother would say something so vile to this kind man.
            “You don’t believe me?”
            “It isn’t that. I know you’d never lie Mr. Weitz. I can’t imagine why else she’d say such awful things. She must have been drinking.”
            “You’re a smart girl Karen. Didn’t the nuns teach you Latin at that school?”
            She nodded.
            “Your mother wasn’t being cruel because she was drunk. She was telling me what she really thought. Don’t you know what in vino veritas means?”
            “In wine there is truth,” she whispered to his back as he walked away.

            I’m really excited this week to link up with Write On Edge this week. We were asked to focus on dialogue and body language to move the story along and begin our piece with the sentence, His crossed arms answered her question before he spoke. I was very flattered to be featured as an example of the use of dialogue when this prompt was published. I’ve always been very comfortable writing dialogue. I attribute this to my background in theatre and my belonging to a family of marathon talkers. My characters tend to get very clumsy when they stop talking and start acting. If you enjoy reading about Karen, click here for more.