Leroy, the pessimist, wanted to flip houses. He wanted to buy a run-down, abandoned, old house, fix it up, and sell it for profit. He was good with his hands and he had always wanted to travel, but there were two problems; he didn’t have the money, and being a pessimist, he couldn’t see potential in any of the houses he looked at. So he found a job as a bank teller and once in a while he would spend several hours on a real estate website until he’d talked himself out of flipping houses.
On one such occasion he was settled in on the sofa after a long day and a knock on the door caused him to look up from his first bite of a Lean Cuisine.
Then, a teenager in a large shirt was staring up at him from his porch and so was the large metal toolbox she had with her.
“It’s full of paint. I do murals, any kind, and I can do one in your house for just thirty bucks. I want to buy a mustang.” She pushed the hair out of her eyes and stood with her hand on her hip. Then, they were silent for what felt to Leroy like incredibly too much time.
“How much does the car cost?” Leroy asked. “How many murals do you have to paint?” He instinctively looked past her at the curb, as if a Mustang would be parked waiting.
“Don’t know yet; haven’t found one for sale. Still, I don’t have a job, and I need to start building my portfolio.” Then she was entering Leroy’s house without being invited; she was smiling and talking to him in a bunch of art jargon he’d never heard before. She was walking around pointing at his walls.
“I could paint some owls there! Do you like owls? I could do them in all colors. And sizes and patterns. I could incorporate that window, and add some falling autumn leaves there, for composition.” Leroy didn’t know how to make her stop and he panicked.
“No.” he said. Then they went silent while more time passed.
“What’s wrong? Do you not like owls? They’re cute.” The stranger began looking more and more embarrassed.
“You didn’t want a mural in the first place. I’m sorry. I’m not a very good listener. I’m sorry. Here I am in your house, you didn’t even have a chance to clean up.” With every statement she was retreating from the residence. Leroy was suddenly very aware of the rumpled quilt and laptop on the sofa and the cereal bowls on the coffee table.
As she opened the door and hefted her paint box, she seemed to realize she had just insulted him, and added, “You have a very nice house though, sir. I’m sorry I barged in, and I’m going now. Just let your friends know about me if they need a mural painted, Mr.…?”