Mister Rupert’s New Real Estate
by: Adrian F.

 

The year was 1885, a time when three travelers started a journey into a city that lasted weeks. It was a nice, sunny day in Louisiana with perfect weather. A small village, called Sunny Plains, stood on the country side several miles away from the massive city of New Orleans. This village had about fifty people, and about twenty of them were farmers. The farmers owned vast plains with many cattle, as well as many vegetables to sell. Their houses were some distance away from the main village. The other thirty villagers lived in the main village, where about twenty small houses surrounded a water fountain, which was the main village’s center. Several yards away, there was a forest with many trees.

 

The people who lived here depended on each other for survival. Some were hunters, others were farmers. Some were just hard working people who helped to keep this small village running smoothly. Some even had families. But there was a peculiar house that stood out from the rest of the other two – roomed houses made of wooden logs or sod. This house had two stories and seven rooms. It had a solid foundation and was the sturdiest of all the other houses. An old couple lived here, the Ruperts.

 

Mister Rupert was an old man of average height. He had a small pot belly and usually wore old, worn out clothes, although sometimes he’d dress slightly better. He’d always wear a pork pie hat wherever he went, and had gray sideburns that stuck out of his face. He helped to work in the village of Sunny Plains by gathering supplies such as timber in case an emergency happened. Missus Rupert, on the other hand, dressed more elegantly. She would sew clothes for the other villagers, as well as her husband, who occasionally would wear out clothes she made for him. She had black hair and a few soft wrinkles on her face.

 

Mister Rupert was reading a newspaper inside the living room sitting on a chair. Missus Rupert sat nearby on another chair sewing some work clothes for her husband. Both of them were in the living room, which had a large, green rug in the center of it. There also were a few couches by the walls of the room. While Missus Rupert was sewing clothes, she could see the face of Mister Rupert forming a frown and his eyebrows meeting together. It meant he had something to complain about. “What is it, Albert?” she said in a calm, somewhat gentle tone. He only let his wife call him Albert.. Mister Rupert’s lower lip now covered his upper lip, meaning he was disappointed about something. After decades of being married, Missus Rupert knew all too well her husband’s expressions.

 

Mister Rupert spoke in his usual cranky old tone when he was bothered.

 

“Today is March the fourteenth. This newspaper is two weeks late! Look at the date on this thing, Elizabeth. It says February the twentieth!” Missus Rupert rolled her green eyes.

 

“Albert, news doesn’t matter that much for us right now. Have you washed the dishes?”

 

Mister Rupert stood up, fidgeted around with his suspenders, raised his chin in pride, and said, “Washed ‘em early in the morning, while you were asleep.”

 

Missus Rupert raised her eyelids in disbelief, then calmed down somewhat.

 

“Albert…” Mister Rupert looked confused at his wife’s disappointment. “That explains why I couldn’t get enough sleep,” Missus Rupert told him. “It also explains why I had to wash them again.” Mister Rupert’s proud gesture turned into an expression of surprise.

 

“I thought I helped. Oh well, I guess I’ll go outside and get some water from the fountain,” he said as he walked towards the door outside.

 

“Albert, wait,” said Missus Rupert as she got up from her chair. Mister Rupert turned around. “Albert, I was thinking of moving from the country to the city. In New Orleans,” she said.

 

Mister Rupert looked surprised, and said “The city? Why? It’s nice and quiet here.” Missus Rupert looked at him straight in the eye.

 

“Think of the money, Albert! Think of how life would be so much easier for us if we didn’t have to toil in work every day. We could move on and meet new friends. This old, peaceful village has been nice ever since you and I moved here, but nothing has changed. We hardly have ever talked with our neighbors, and we have no friends to talk with. Albert, if we made it in the city, imagine the friends we could make. Imagine the new family we would have.”

 

Missus Rupert was already lost in her thinking as images of living in a nice hotel room with a balcony came to mind. In those images she and her husband were enjoying themselves in the city, going out to the market to buy things, and living a more relaxed life. She had completely forgotten that she was not in Sunny Plains Village, but in the city, where she and her husband would enjoy themselves on steam boat rides. Mister Rupert thought that his wife was crazy as she smiled and her eyes went all the way up to her top eyelids, making an expression showing that she was not here, but in a fantasy world.

 

Why would Mister Rupert want to live in the city? For him, life was perfect here. He had lived here ever since he and his wife had children who would grow up to travel elsewhere in the country. But suddenly, he had images of his own. He imagined him and his wife in New Orleans, owning and living in a locally-owned general store where he would earn lots of money. And instead of having to wait for the Pony Express to deliver newspapers, they would just come straight out of the city’s factories and delivered on his doorstep by a paper boy. And he wouldn’t have to wash dishes, either, because his wife, Elizabeth, would get to do all that because she’d have more time. He could have things the way he always wanted them to be.

 

Mister Rupert suddenly snapped out of it, but he still saw Elizabeth dreaming. “Elizabeth, honey,” he said, trying to get her consciousness back. Missus Rupert, still living in her fantasy, suddenly noticed that the well made floors of her apartment room turned into rackety old wood, and that her husband, Albert, stood by a familiar looking door. She finally realized that she was somehow taken from her lovely fantasy and put into the real world.

 

“Yes, Albert?” she asked, disappointed that her dreams were imaginary.

 

“Elizabeth, we’re going to New Orleans,” he said. Misses Rupert gasped in joy.

 

“Really, Albert? You mean it? But we need to get ready for a long journey there. We’ll need supplies and plenty of food. We’ll need a wagon dragged by two horses, and someone to help us on our journey. How do you think we can do all of this?” Missus Rupert spoke with great concern of the needs for the journey.

 

Mister Rupert was not exactly concerned at all. He knew just what to do. “I know just the person who’s going to do all that hard work, Elizabeth, and it’s me,” Albert stated seriously. Misses Rupert was amazed.

 

“Albert, you’re the best! But where will you start? And how are you going to do all of this?” Mister Rupert scoffed. “I’ll find someone to do it for us. I reckon there’s a young boy at the farms. Last time I saw him he was no bigger than my foot is to my knee. His dad said he was gonna make a tough farmer out of him. Farmers are hard workers, and I’m pretty sure that the young boy will be willing to work hard for us.” Missus Rupert was surprised at her husband’s idea.

 

“But Albert! That’s not how you should treat a young man. Aren’t you even going to pay him a single cent for all his trouble? And what about the parents? Will they approve of your offer? And aren’t you going to help that young boy with all of his work?”

 

Mister Rupert held in his hand a two dollar bill, waving it to his wife. “I’ll pay him. And I’m not that lazy, Elizabeth. I’ll help him in some jobs. It’s just that my muscles are getting’ old, you know.” Mister Rupert tried to look like he was in pain from working so his wife would have sympathy for him. He groaned like he had aches in his back. Mister Rupert then left as his wife rolled her eyes.

 

*************************************************

 

Mister Rupert was finally at the doorstep of the house of Frederick Oliver. He knocked on the door three times, and as it opened, he could see Frederick, wearing a blue checkered shirt, suspenders, and rough looking trousers. He looked surprised to see his old friend Mister Rupert after several years.

 

“It’s been a long time I’ve seen ya, Mister Rupert! Come right on in,” he patted his good friend on the pack as he walked inside.

 

It had been years since Mister Rupert had seen him because Frederick and his son had moved temporarily to New Orleans. When Mister Rupert was welcomed in, Frederick invited him to sit on a wooden chair in the dining room of the three room house. It was rather small for a dining room and had only one glass window. He could see wooden shelves that held forks, spoons, and plates. Where Mister Rupert sat was on a chair in the right side of the rectangular table, eating eggs with some potatoes and pork.

 

There were only three chairs by the dining table, and Frederick, being the head of the family, got the biggest one at the northern end of the table. Outside Mister Rupert could see a young, teenage boy working outside on the fields where there were cows. There were only about ten or fifteen cows in those fields, as far as Mister Rupert could see. The family raised animals more than they did planting. Mister Rupert believed that this young boy was Louis Oliver, Frederick’s son. He had grown to be a strong, muscular boy with long, orange hair. Frederick took a seat on his large chair, which looked like something a king would sit on. He was eating eggs with beef and potatoes. Frederick, who looked like an older version of his son, noticed Mister Rupert looking at the boy.

 

“He’s a fine young fella, workin’ hard in those fields,” said Frederick. “Bless his heart, the ol’ fool. As a kid he once fell into a haystack in the barn,” Frederick burst out laughing. Mister Rupert didn’t have the slightest concern about his friend’s story.

 

“Fred,” Mister Rupert said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you, but I was wondering if…” he lost the words and had to find a way to clearly explain it to Frederick. “Keep talkin’,” said Frederick. Mister Rupert stuttered and then finally got back to what he wanted to say. “Me and my wife are moving to New Orleans,” he said as he finished.

 

Frederick’s eyes looked like they were going to come out of his sockets as he suddenly stopped eating. “I thought you liked the country, with the nice land an’ the forests,” said a surprised Frederick.

 

Mister Rupert continued to explain his wife’s plans. “Well, you see… Elizabeth and I don’t exactly have much to do out here, and since our relatives are gone, we thought we could find new friends in the city of New Orleans. Think of it as a way for us to cope with getting old. We want to have fun too, you know, and when you’ve been living in a place like this for decades things start to get boring,” Mister Rupert was not yet done talking. “I was wondering if we could borrow your wagon for the long trip. We have a lot of money to bring with us, so we don’t need to worry about that, but we need supplies. And Louis here could help run errands for us and then help take us to New Orleans. How old is the boy, anyway?” asked Mister Rupert.

 

Frederick turned towards the window, where he saw his son working hard. “He’s seventeen. Personally, I and his mother would have no problem with him helpin’ ya. But yer goin’ to need more than just a wagon. I can’t just give you all the food you need for the journey. But tell ya’ what, Louis can run errands for you, as long as ya’ pay him and help him. I also could give you some food fer’ the journey, but not all of it.”

 

Mister Rupert was happy to hear this. He offered his hand to Frederick. “Thank you,” he said, and the two shook hands.

 

The next day, Louis walked on the doorstep of the Ruperts and knocked. Mister Rupert opened the door. “Mornin’,” said Louis. “Pa wanted me to help. He’s gettin’ some stuff for you right now includin’ the wagon. What do you need help with?”

 

Mister Rupert handed the boy some cash. “Louis, you will address me as Mister Rupert when you mention my name. Please do the same with my wife, Elizabeth. Make sure you replace ‘mister’ with ‘misses’, by the way. Use the money to buy supplies from the other local villagers. I’ll help you if there’s work to be done,” Mister Rupert handed Louis a note. “Those are the things you need written all in here. Once you’ve bought it all, you can keep the cash that’s left. Now get moving,” said Mister Rupert. Louis smiled at the sight of the money. It was too bad it wouldn’t be as much when he was done with it.

 

“Thanks,” said Louis as he walked away from the house. “I’ll get right on it.” It took exactly six days to get ready for the journey, but everything was ready. Louis and the Ruperts worked very hard to get ready to move, and Louis managed to keep five dollars. The crew would have to travel west on the wagon in order to get to New Orleans, but it would take about four days until they’d get to the train station. They bought with them two shot guns for the journey in case of emergency. The wagon was ready for the journey, but Missus Rupert and Louis had to wait for Mister Rupert to finish his trip to the outhouse. After five minutes, Mister Rupert seemed to be walking towards the wagon, but suddenly went inside the house.

 

Louis and Missus Rupert, who were in the back of the wagon, were puzzled by Mister Rupert’s actions. “What in the world is he doing?” said Missus Rupert. They both heard a distant yell coming from the house. “Louis, where are you?” yelled out Mister Rupert, who thought the boy was inside. Misses Rupert rolled her green eyes and sighed. Louis laughed.

 

“I’m in the wagon!” he yelled. Mister Rupert came out of the house and got on the front of the wagon where the horses were. Louis did the same.

 

After days of travel, the crew finally reached New Orleans, the bustling metropolis of the Deep South. Louis had left to bring the wagon back all the way to Sunny Plains, while Mister and Missus Rupert walked through the massive city, where all kinds of people walked around. There were large buildings and apartments, as well as huge factories.

 

But New Orleans was not just an industrial state. To the Ruperts, it was a place to relax. The city’s richer areas had nice places to live in. There were boat rides at the docks as well, and most of the people were generally friendly. However, the Ruperts had a problem. They did not have enough cash remaining from the trip. In order to solve this problem, they would have to earn it. In order to do so, they worked hard for a supply store. After working for six long months, they managed to earn their money back and began living like rich people in an apartment. They lived lives filled with happiness and joy.