“Mr. Moore?” She giggled nervously, smoothing the sleeves of her navy blue suit jacket. Everything was perfectly pressed; the knee length skirt, white pinstriped blouse, and goldenrod ascot— perfectly poofed. “Oh, he is a nice man. So well mannered. He was my first sale ever. And my biggest sale you know. Ever. Of course it is the biggest property in the area so that isn’t much of a surprise.” Her desk was adorned with pictures of cats doing cute things. It was personal, the personal touch without over doing it. It was a functional desk, with matching accessories, the jubilee of pens in the burgundy holder, her business cards leaning at just the right angle from the burgundy dispenser.
“Yes, it’s true.” As if to dispel any disbelief. “That house had been in the Rochester family ever since people have settled in this area. That’s a couple hundred years, you know.” She straightened the nameplate on her desk, Beverly Banks, in black on faux copper. It was a large replica of the mini one pinned on her left shoulder above an embroidered logo, 21st Century Realty, also in goldenrod.
“Such a fascinating place. It started off small, you know, just a place to keep the snow off ya really. Terrible. Can you imagine, no central heating? In these mountains. Those pioneers, real troopers I tell ya. It’s a wonder any of them lived through that first winter. In the spring, that’s when the first loggers started coming in, ready to work. It wasn’t just about the trees you know, they were put to good use of course, but what it was really about was getting the tracks laid to finish the first railway across the country.
“Oh! I’m so sorry,” she lifts her hand in the air and wiggling her understated, but tastefully groomed fingernails in a dark pink color, not scandalous like red would be, but not the cotton candy pink of a tween. Lifting slightly from her seat she looks across the top of the cubicles, “Marie!” She waits until she has the girl’s attention and then beckons her over. “Can we get some more coffee over here for our guest? Thank you.” She sits down again folding her hands in front of her. “Now, Mr. Moore—“
Marie quickly appears, she is young, just out of high school most likely. Her shoes made of shiny black patent leather, like a dolls, her office casual clothes fit her awkwardly, too restrictive maybe. She holds a plastic tray, fake wood grain on both sides, and sets it down on the edge of Beverly’s desk, a silver carafe, a coffee mug of milk, and three kinds of sweetener in white, blue, and yellow packets.
“Aren’t you thoughtful,” Beverly squeezes Marie's elbow. “She’s my best pupil,” she smiles at the girl. Marie smiles apologetically, blushing, embarrassed and leaves. “Someday, when I have to leave God’s green earth I know, that while I may not have children, my legacy will go on in people like her.” She watches as Marie goes back to whatever it was she was doing before. “She is such a wonderful girl.” Beverly’s gaze goes into the distance.
So many nice people and nice things fill her life. Her cats, the Monday night quilting circle, and of course her job and all of it in a place like this, one of America’s most pristine Alpine forests. The freshest air on earth, the cleanest water anywhere. Surrounded by pines every day smelled like Christmas to her. Christmas and sunshine. Sometimes, when it’s been snowing like crazy for a few hours and she has just spent two hours shoveling out a path for her car and she looks back to see she has to do it again, with trembling arms and her back on fire in excruciating pain, she thinks maybe she should finally get out of this place. Afterward, sitting in front of the fireplace, wool blankets piled on her legs and a cup of homemade hot chocolate in her favorite mug, a photo of Mit Mit and Choo Choo in Santa hats, she watches the snow fall and with a deep breath of satisfaction. All the frustration of the previous few hours melts away like snow on your tongue. What a blessed life this is.
She blinks suddenly. “I don’t know what is wrong with me today.” She reaches up, patting her dark auburn curls. The precisely sculpted chunks of hair are held in perfectly unnatural places and add a few inches to her height. She clears her throat, “Where were we? Yes, the Rochester Estate.” Folding her hands again, she takes a deep breath.
“Logging became a big business up here, well still is, and of course once the trains were running that brought in all kinds of people looking to start new lives and more people means more business. Mr. Rochester was an excellent business man and his house grew right along with the town and his… assets.
“He’s a very important man around here, Mr. Rochester, he was our first mayor. Have you driven around much? Rochester High School. The middle school was named after his wife, Margaret Winslow- Rochester. If it wasn’t for him, this town wouldn’t be nearly as nice as it is. Many of the streets are named after his heirs.” She nods her head assuredly, as if to say that’s a fact, everyone knows it.
“The house, the house, the house.” She poured herself a fresh cup of steaming coffee, without putting any sugar or cream in she stirred her spoon absently. Clink, clink, clink. “Each addition was always a new undertaking. It meant clearing more trees and moving more dirt, it’s on the side of a hill you know. Sometimes it involved blasting right through all that rock. From certain angles it looks like the house has grown right out of the side of the mountain. Some of that was intentional. Mr. Rochester loved nature and it was important to him that nature was not interrupted just because he was there.
“Here’s a fun fact.” She leaned forward across her desk as if she was about to reveal a great secret. “Did you know there is a room, right in the middle of the house, made of the original walls and a ceiling that Mr. Rochester had cut down himself all those years ago? Completely made of pine tree trunks. Makes it look like a giant Lincoln Logs cabin.” She leaned back in her seat. “So it’s said, anyways. It’s supposed to be the wood from the original structure; it’s possible, I guess. They could carbon date it or something, I’m sure, to check if it’s the original cabin, but what does it matter really, it’s the thought that counts, right?” She looks wide-eyed for a nod of mutual agreement.
“Through the years rooms were added onto other rooms, hallways extended. On occasion there had been a collapse due to heavy snow. Because of that the roof has several tiers where the owner at the time decided to add high ceilings, or a new level, that kind of thing. In a way I think each Rochester has left his or her mark on the house.
“Because of all the changes and reconstructions, there is nothing symmetrical or reasonable about the place. But my, it is a beautiful house, don’t get me wrong. In the entry is this gorgeous wood staircase, and beautiful slate stone work everywhere. Majestic fireplaces in most of the rooms, including bathrooms. I have never seen anything so beautiful in all my life.
“So tastefully decorated but it is a bear getting through it. I literally needed a map to find my way around the place. The county clerk had so many blueprints on file I finally had to call in an architect to make whole new ones just to update the county records. It had to be surveyed so we could list it properly and makes sure that all those changes hadn’t created some unforeseen damage.”
Her eyes dropped and her lips were pressed together in a tight frown. “Poor Mr. Rochester, Richard. He was the last of them, no children, even the grandchildren were up in years.” She shook her head sadly. “So many of their beautiful things sent to auction. There was some mix up at the lawyers about his will, I don’t remember, it was so long ago now, but they needed a realtor and by default really, the account was given to me.
“The grounds are extensive, massive, most of it rock, and dirt, just pure forest, not really any gardens to speak of. And the private road, it’s quite long when you consider the cost of up keep and plowing in the winter.
“Mr. Moore, he pays to maintain the road at his own expense, no tax dollars are used for it.” She chuckles softly to herself. “You know, he even pays to make sure there is plenty of avalanche control. I suppose he would lose a lot if anything happened to the house. I’m sure he must have other homes. A man in his position usually does. But I don’t really know, I’ve only sold him the one.”
She leans in, this time much closer, her voice dropping below the chatter of the other agents on the phone or at the water cooler. “I can’t tell you anything personal of course, I respect my client’s privacy, and the law. But, I did Google his name once, he’s quite a prolific man. It’s the perfect house for him really. As diverse and interesting as he is.” She winks.
A shadow fell across the desk. Without moving, her eyes shifted up, “Marie!” She forced an impatient smile, “what can I do for ya?”
Marie leans in and smiles plaintively, “Your three o’clock appointment is ready.”
With surprise and ting of irritation at Marie, Beverly checks her watch. “Oh my. I love it when I’m busy, just makes the day fly by. It feels so productive too.” She waves Marie away and stands to her feet. Leaning over she straightens a photo of her with a man, they are young, the gold bands on their fingers gleam. Beverly is still wearing hers.
“It has been so nice talking with you today.” She tugs on the hem of her jacket. “If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to give me a call. You have my card…” She looks over, “Good.”
“Mr. Moore, he is very nice, so lovely to talk to, I sure hope you get the chance to meet him. It is a unique experience. Now remember, if you are thinking about relocation, it’s not a bad place to be, give me a call if you want to look at some properties.” She winks.
Beverly squinches her eyes shut. “What a ninny.” She shakes her head and puts her hands on her hips. “Honestly, I do not know what has come over me. I have never done something like this before; you must think me so rude. I never asked your name.” She held out her hand, her smile bigger than ever.