Thursday morning brought the typical, and predictable, nightmarish experience on the T. What the hell are people lugging around that they need those gigantic bags? Damage to my ribs and kidneys not withstanding, I arrived at the Hobfield residence already aggravated. The T does that to me.
Pima let me in, and led me upstairs to the kitchen counter, where Mrs. Hobfield had left a long list of “to do” items. This was my routine for the next half year or so. Show up at the house in the morning and get my list, then do my list. Most of it was hauling things to or from the basement, small painting jobs, and rearranging the furniture. Holy crap, was there a lot of furniture to arrange! Apparently Mrs. Hobfield had a disorder that I haven’t seen on 60 Minutes or 20/20 yet, in which the victim has a compulsion to rearrange the furniture relentlessly. When you’re rich, you just hire someone to act out your disorders, and that’s where I came in. They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a shitload of people to do all the unhappy stuff for you. There were couches to move, Georgian chairs, granite topped foyer tables, rugs of Asian and Persian persuasions, not to mention the dining room set that sat twenty-four people comfortably. Thank God I wasn’t allowed to touch anything on the third floor, that’s where the real antiques were kept. Roll top desks, revolutionary rockers, and anything with Louis in front of it. It was also where they kept the bulk of their extensive art collection. I might as well give you the layout of the house while I’m at it. The first floor has a grand entryway with two sweeping stairways on either side leading upstairs. Through the archway between the stairs is the main drawing room with a library and pantry/wet bar attached. There are glass French doors leading to the small garden and courtyard behind the house. Beyond that is the garage which empties out onto Chestnut Street. The second floor has the kitchen, dining room, and parlor to entertain guests and whatnot. The third floor is for antiques and the Hobfield’s master bedroom, while Pima lives on the fourth floor/attic. Don’t feel bad for her though, that attic is nicer than any place I have ever lived in my entire life. There are bathrooms on every floor, and a beautifully concealed elevator that goes from the first floor to the attic. Unfortunately not to the basement, but again, that’s where I come in handy.
When I wasn’t pushing or pulling heavy expensive wooden things, I was running errands. The one chore I didn’t mind was picking up the Hobfields wine and booze. Mrs. Hobfield was partial to cheap, South American whites, and lots of ‘em. I got to be pretty good friends with the guys at the wine shop. They always let me borrow their two wheel dolly to haul wine up the hill. We could have had them deliver it, but I enjoyed getting out of the house and talking to some of the only people on the hill who weren’t stuck up snobs.
I rarely saw the Hobfields, as I avoided the third floor, and was long gone by the time they started entertaining around martini-thirty (or is it wine-o-clock?). When I did see them, it was usually the good cop/ bad cop routine, with Mrs. Hobfield playing the bad cop. Mr. Hobfield would be the one to pat me on the back after an incident, tuck a crumpled ten dollar bill in my shirt pocket, and tell me to forget about it. He seemed nice enough although he wouldn’t look at me for the first two months, then one day he muttered something about “turnover”, and “not bothering to learn the names until at least nine weeks” before properly introducing himself. There was one thing that bugged me about him. He wore those old style blue shirts with the white collars (picture Michael Douglas in Wall Street) and always with a bow tie. My dad told me when I was younger to never trust a man in a bow tie, and I hadn’t yet come across an exception to that rule. They were either creepy, pompous, hiding a secret, or maybe all three. Mr. Hobfield seemed ok for an old dude, maybe he would be the exception. Anyway, that’s how I spent my first few months at the Hobfield house, until a few weeks ago when some odd things started happening.