He arrives in a gray Subaru.

We ask him to pull all the way into the driveway so we can get kids off to school.

He carries a clipboard, camera, and measuring tape.

He has a firm grip.

My wife stays behind.


“He’s in the attic,” she texts me.

“Is he nice?”

Of course there’s no way to tell because he’s not even human.

He’s a machine that takes pictures of doors that need paint and a crack in the ceiling of the living room.

Then logs his findings in pencil.


“He seems like it,” she says

Which I know means that he has manners enough to negotiate through old houses

careful not to step in puddles of nostalgia.


He takes a picture of the doorway moulding where we kept our daughters’ height.

Also in pencil.


New roof. Check.

New electrical and plumbing. Check. Check.

He leaves.


His appraisal comes back low.

He has no idea the value of our home.

Or how fruitful its soil.


Jim Mitchem

One Minute as a Black Man
Angels and Devils

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.