New Britain

        Looking through the phone book for likely marks was straining Al’s patience.  He had to do legwork.  The ads touted the big outfits.  He needed a small operation that was willing to give out a mortgage with high interest and a blind eye to any shortcomings he might have.  He was looking for a thief in the guise of a boon to the community.  He wasn’t going to be around long enough to pay interest.  He settled on three outfits.  He’d check them out this afternoon and make any tweaks he needed.  City Mortgage was on the top of the list, the ad was poverty row, perfect.  Macuse Finance was a close second, they had an ad on a page with fifteen others.  Truth be told Al pulled them out of his hat.  Homeline was third on the list.  It was out of town  in Plainville.  They were a dark horse, nothing stood out and they seemed the most legit.  He’d check them out before getting J.D. and getting the process started.  He’d call her and set up a time that they could hit one or two  of the marks.

        Al got his car and began to circle the Main Street area and zoomed in on City Mortgage.  It was located in a block that once held a department store.  It had been broken up into four streetfront stores and warehoudingin the back.  City was sandwiched between a Hispanic-themed clothing store and a health food store.  He parked in the garage in back of the building.  Another five bucks to park because all the metered spots were taken.  He walked past City and casually glanced inside.  It was spartan and had four desks arranged around the perimeter.  One desk was occupied by a go-getter type working the phone.  The other three desks were window dressing.  The guy on the phone was probably the only employee.  The block had gone low-rent after most of the big stores moved to the mall.  He walked up West Main and found Macuse Mortgage three blocks up.  Another vulture, looking to make money off the people who the banks turned down.  This place showed no image of being exclusive. One desk was occupied by a blond whose job was to answer phones and misdirect anybody who couldn’t make the monthly nut.  In back a fat operator in shirt sleeves sat shuffling papers.  He’d enjoy taking this one.  This guy hit a spot inside Al.  He probably enjoyed foreclosing.  Al stuck his hands in his pockets and walked back to the garage.  He got his car, paid the five bucks and drove to Plainville.  After a ten minute drive he wound up in Plainville.  Homeline was hard to find.  He found that the street address was an old factory.  It had made ball bearings in its prime but the company was bought out and moved piecemeal out of state.  It sat empty for a bunch of years until a developer bought it and turned it into condos and office space.  He parked in the lot and after some looking found the entrance tucked in a corner at the far end.  It was carpeted inside.  The tenants were fit into the office space that had once served management of the company.  Homeline Mortgage was seven doors down.  Al knew a casual walk-by wouldn’t work.  He’d have to go in.  The single main door betrayed the inside.  Three office spaces were taken up by a comfortable waiting area and ten desks.  Each one had a suit sitting behind it shufffling papers or talking on the phone.  A petite redhead sat in front of them with a sunny smile on her face.  Her demeanor pulled Al to her desk.

       “Welcome to Homeline Mortgage.  How can I help you?” She greeted him as if she did it a hundred times a day and never tired of it.

        “I’m looking to take out a mortgage.”  This was premature.  He didn’t have a property picked out yet.  He pushed on.  “Do you have any brochures I can take home?”

         “Perhaps you’d like to speak to one of our representitives.”

          “No, I just need some paperwork that will help me find a suitable dealer.”

           “I have a pamphlet that has an overview of our services.”

            “That’d be fine.”  He took the proferred papers and turned trying to hide the urge to run out.  This place might be a little too high class for his needs.  He needed air this was too fast.  He needed time.  He made it out to the parking lot and hunted down his car.  He got in and sat behind the wheel.  He was sweating.  Maybe he was in over his head.  He pulled out and drove home.  When he got back into town he stopped at the Lido and put away a bourbon and soda.  He had to think.