As Rick ambled up to the apartment building, an old structure made of brick and stone, he noticed a homeless man sitting by the corner, a sign propped on his lap claiming TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
No truer words were spoken as far as he was concerned.
Having only signed the divorce papers a week ago, Rick was now a free man, a free agent in the market of available men now on the chopping block.
Okay, maybe that was a bit cynical.
But here he was, now having relocated to Atlanta, a new cop on the force in the Atlanta PD and currently as homeless as the man toting the sign.
Well, at least he had a comfy room at the Ramada Inn, complete with cable television and maid service, until he could find a place to live for the next foreseeable future.
Which brought him to the building in question at this very moment.
Having looked through numerous ads had given Rick a headache the size of his current mortgage, which according to Lori's attorney, he was still required to pay.
How was it a wife could fuck around behind his back, with his best friend no less, and still manage to come out of the divorce with the house, the car and the kids. At least he had managed to get Carl and Judith on the weekends.
Maybe he had to concede the children to Lori. Despite everything, Judith was still a baby and she shouldn't be away from her mother for too long and Rick didn't make it any easier by moving to Atlanta from Cynthiana so the weekends were about all he could get away with. Then again, he wouldn't have had to transfer if it hadn't been for the simple fact that she was sleeping with Shane and there was no way he could work on the same force as that man.
And round and round Rick went.
Lori was right about one thing.
He was too damn reasonable.
But back to the problem at hand. Every apartment that was in a great neighborhood and had plenty of room (for both himself and the kids on the weekend) was way out of his pay range because a policeman's salary was nothing to sneeze at but when you were currently paying the mortgage on a home you were expressly not allowed to live in as well as the rent on something you were supposed to live in, then that paycheck started to get squeezed tighter than a size 5 pair of skinny jeans on a size 9 pair of hips. So either an apartment was perfect but too expensive or it was within his means but too small. Or it was affordable and had the room but it was located in a neighborhood that was the kind of neighborhood that the local police would get called to all too frequently, the police who could afford to live in a nice house on the right side of town because their wives didn't fool around on them and take the house.
He couldn't believe his good luck when he spotted the ad for the place he was currently looking at.
Roomy, furnished, two bedroom, nice neighborhood, clean building and right within his price range.
And looking at the outside of the building, and the nice area he was surrounded in (despite the homeless man on the corner) he wondered if this was too good to be true.
And while he stood on the stoop looking up, a man in a fishing hat and tropical shirt walked out.
"Rick Grimes?" the man in the hat asked.
"Yep," Rick chuckled nervously, wondering if the word RICK GRIMES, AFFABLE LOSER was tattooed on his forehead.
"Dale Horvath," the man said as he extended his hand. "Punctual, I like that," Dale smirked as he shook hands with Rick.
"Well, I couldn't rightly pass up the opportunity to see the place. Sounds too good to be true, honestly."
"Well," Dale winced, "you better wait until you see it. Come on, follow me."
Well, that didn't sound ominous, not one tiny bit. Rick followed the man inside the building, immediately taking note of the entranceway. Two double glass doors leading to another glass door and into a row of mailboxes along the wall, hexagonal tile flooring throughout.
So far, so good.
"Okay, so no elevator," Dale started off, "just stairs but you get used to them." He looked warily up to the top. "Well, most people do. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them," he sighed.
Rick looked up and could see the stairs going up forever winding around and around until he could see the very top where a large stained glass skylight could be seen.
"Isn't the apartment on the…?"
"Yep, fifth floor. Still interested?"
Rick thought about the two bedroom that he could afford in the shadier part of town. He thought of Carl making friends with the local meth dealer named Skippy. "Yep still interested," he nodded a bit too enthusiastically.
When they arrived to the fifth floor, he was amazed he had lasted as well as he had. Guess he was in better shape then he thought.
He wasn't so sure he could say the same for Dale though, who was currently crouched over, holding his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. "You okay," Rick asked uncertainly.
"Oh…I'll be…fine," Dale huffed, trying to appease all of Rick's worries. "Shit, you'd think this place would be equipped with a crash cart," the older man laughed as he straightened back up. "I hope you want this apartment. It's a bitch showing it to anybody else."
"How many people you show it to?" Rick started doing calculations in his head. How bad could it be in there if no one wanted it?
"A few," Dale shrugged. "Some women, some men. It wasn't what any of them wanted. The woman who lived here before, she was…well, lets just go in."
Following the landlord in and feasting his eyes for the first time on the place, that proverbial lightbulb had just clicked on in Rick's head.
"It's a bit too feminine, even for some of the women," Dale nodded reluctantly. "The woman who lived here landed an amazing opportunity in Italy and she had to leave quickly. She didn't want to bring anything so she left it to me. I guess I could have removed everything, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. The chi in this place is amazing…"
Rick took in the apartment as Dale droned on about energy and some other shit.
There was so much estrogen floating around in the unit he could almost feel himself putting weight on his hips and thighs. Looking past the quaint kitchen with its cottage-like antique cabinets and the colorful tile, he took in the living area with its whitewashed exposed brick walls and long windows that let the sunlight in a way that was well lit without being too bright. There were hand drawn botanical prints on the walls and floral everything, from the lamp to the couch.
Oh the couch!
Now he was feeling a bit bloated.
The couch was a beautiful velvety, over-upholstered thing with a big loopy golden flower design. The problem was, not that it was an eyesore but that it fit in the apartment so well.
When Rick ventured into the bedroom, the estrogen didn't merely hit him in the face as it did when he first walked into the unit, it tackled him to the ground and put him in a chokehold.
There was a wrought iron bed, whitewashed of course, with bedding in a burgundy, red and white paisley. The fact that he knew what paisley was was a testament to Lori's thorough domestication of him. The dresser was a painted mint green and the wallpaper was a bold pattern of red flowers on a cream background. It actually looked cozy.
Moving through the rest of the apartment, he noticed a room in the back, which didn't fit with the rest of the decorative scheme as it was completely unfinished which meant he could do whatever he wanted to it. It would be perfect for Carl and roomy enough for a crib.
Noticing Rick's confusion, Dale quickly added, "she was an artist. She made these fascinating sculptures. That was her studio. She took everything in there with her."
After a bit of a pause, Dale sighed. "So, I won't waste anymore of your time…"
Rick nodded and spun around the living area once more.
It was the type of apartment Lori would have loved. It was the kind she pored over in her decorating magazines that she stashed all over the house.
Lori was always trying to recreate places like this in their home but never quite got the hang of doing it. She couldn't seem to put the right pieces together.
She took pride in their home, but she was never satisfied with the way it looked. It never reached her expectations. It was always a constant source of frustration for her.
This place? This looked like it stepped right out of one of those magazines. It was perfectly put together without looking like it was perfectly put together.
Something Lori could never have accomplished, no matter what layouts she looked at, what fabric swatches she poured over.
It retrospect. Lori would hate the place. She would hate the fact that she couldn't have created even a tenth of its simple charm. She would look at the place and resent it feeling it forever mocking her every time she came to visit.
"I'll take it," Rick announced quickly and decisively, a self-satisfied smile gracing his face.
"You will?" Dale sputtered in shock.
New job. New apartment.
After all it was the first day of the rest of his life.