Julie and I had always maintained separate finances, and each handled certain bills without the other’s knowledge. After she died, she left me enough in savings to maintain the household for a few months. I was only working part time and receiving unemployment checks. The jobs in the banking industry at the time were scarce or very low paying.
It was April and I had run out of the money that I had found in Julie’s bank accounts. My unemployment checks were gone because John Boehner and Congress had allowed those benefits expire on December 31st, 2013. My part time jobs didn’t pay shit, and the state of Colorado was garnishing my checks anyway. The rent was due.
I am not lying when I say that my plan for getting the rent paid was to sell the book that I had just written. I naively thought that the first agent that I solicited would jump at the chance to represent me and they would already have connections in the publishing industry and I would immediately get a check that would solve every problem that I was having. To all of my fellow authors out there, I can literally hear you laughing. I guess instead of calling myself naïve, I can be more accurate and label myself an arrogant, elitist prick.
I had always thought that my final insurance policy for finances would be to pawn Julie’s wedding ring if and when things got dire. The situation was beyond dire. I paid almost $2,800 for the ring, so I assumed I would be able to get half that much. I took it to three places that I had researched online. The first place I took it to down on Broadway wasn’t even slightly interested. The second option was one of those places with some guy waiving a sign out front that said “we buy gold”. The guy told me that he would give me $198 for it, because all he was going to do was melt it down. My rent was $1300 so that wasn’t going to cut it.
I finally went to a pawn shop, and after a little negotiating I was able to get $360 for it. That would leave me about a $1000 short of making the rent. I knew that I would never be able to redeem the ring, but I was happy that at least it wasn’t going to be melted down. The pawn shop would be able to sell it to someone who would appreciate it. Julie’s memory should not be going into a melting pot.
Still, the bottom line was that I was not going to have a place to live. I was already two months past due on the gas and electricity bill so that would be getting turned off before too long. I was pretty much fucked. I had no clue what to do.
That evening as I was considering my options, my phone rang. It was my cousin Mike from Iowa. He could tell that something was wrong, so I told him about my dilemma. Mike was in the Teamsters Union and had just taken a job building a fertilizer plant in Burlington, Iowa which was about two hours south of his home in Davenport. He rented a place near the job so he wouldn’t have to commute.
Mike said I could come take care of his house, and all I would have to do is mow the lawn. I didn’t make a whole lot of his comment at the time. Iowa was simply not a destination I had planned for my life.