Panic, properly contained, can be very motivating.
Within minutes of Daniel’s departure we were burning up the phone lines. First we called the airline and postponed our return to D.C.
Then we called work and explained the situation. “We’ll keep you posted,” was all we could say.
Next—well, frankly we didn’t know what to do next. Who could help us? Our network of contacts on the island was almost non-existent. Other than the realtors we’d dealt with—and of course Daniel and Rod—we hardly knew anyone.
Then we remembered Carlos, the owner of the Puerto Real Inn.
He had welcomed us with open arms when we’d stayed at his hotel in February. Even better, he was one of the best-connected people on the island.
Even Ida had said so.
It took a few minutes to get Carlos on the phone, but he was immediately sympathetic when we told him our tale of woe. “Come over and have a cup of coffee,” he said. “We’ll figure this out.”
We reached the hotel in record time. Carlos greeted us warmly and led us to the hotel’s open-air restaurant, where he served us comforting lattes as we told him the saga of Daniel and Rod.
He listened patiently. And when we were done he said, “I’ve got a great idea.”
We felt better already.
“There’s a wonderful new property manager on the island named Jane Compton. I heard the other day she’s looking for new clients. Why don’t I give her a call?”
Jane met us at the house at 3:00 p.m. My first thought was that she could have been Meryl Streep’s sister. Like the actress, her features were sharp and mobile, her gestures charmingly expressive. She smiled a lot, laughed even more and managed to seem at the same time both self-possessed and vulnerable.
With her hair pinned up in an untidy bun, her reading glasses perched halfway down her nose, she might almost have been Streep’s twin.
Hailing from Wisconsin, she had come to the island a couple of years earlier to visit a friend. After a few weeks, she had decided to stay.
“Carlos told me you’re in a jam,” she said.
Michael spoke up—dear, blunt Michael. “Our property manager fired us,” he said.
This got her attention. “What do I need to know?” she asked, smiling impishly.
We told her what happened. She listened without comment.
“Do you know Daniel and Rod?” I asked.
“Sure, I’ve seen them around. All the property managers know each other, at least by sight.”
“Have you ever heard anything bad about them?”
She smiled again. “If I had, I wouldn’t tell you.” This made us like her even more.
For the first time in five hours we exhaled.