Standard Bank Addendum

Standard Addendum to Purchase Contract

Purchase Agreement for a First Bank of Asbestos (henceforth referred to as “Seller”) property is non-binding unless this addendum has been attached and fully executed by all parties. In the event of a dispute between the language of the Purchase Agreement (or subsequent addenda) and this addendum, the terms of this addendum shall prevail. Under no circumstances shall the terms of this addendum be altered by any party other than Mephistopheles himself.

Buyer, ______________________________, understands that the property located at _____________________________ in _______________________, _______ has been acquired through foreclosure (or similar jurisdictional process) by Seller. As such, Seller has no knowledge of the property’s history and makes no warranties, express or implied, as to its condition.

*Buyer acknowledges that Seller doesn’t know s&$% _________  (Buyer Initials)

In the unlikely event that Seller should learn anything about the condition or history of the property at any time during the course of the transaction, Seller still doesn’t know s&$%.

Buyer to include child’s pet bunny rabbit with all offers. Upon verbal notice of Seller’s acceptance of the Purchase Agreement, Buyer to deposit earnest funds in the amount of $1,000,000 in non-sequential bills in the offshore account of the Seller’s choosing. Should Buyer fail to deposit earnest funds within twenty four (24) hours of verbal acceptance, the rabbit dies.

Upon delivery of earnest funds, Buyer to be granted fifteen minutes to complete all desired physical inspections of the premises. Should Buyer require utilities to be turned on prior to inspection, Buyer may do so at his/her expense if he/she can properly name the tune of the Seller’s choosing in three notes. Should Buyer request any repairs be completed prior to Close of Escrow, Seller reserves the right to cancel this transaction, retain the earnest funds as damages and drop the Buyer off in the middle of the desert wearing a blindfold and bologna underwear.

*Buyer acknowledges that Seller won’t fix s&$% _________  (Buyer Initials)

In the event of a financed offer, Buyer to obtain full loan approval within ten seconds of execution of the Purchase Agreement. Close of Escrow to occur on a date convenient to Seller. Possibly next June. Maybe September. Seller to notify Buyer of the Close of Escrow Date on the day of closing. Should Buyer fail to perform, causing the closing to be delayed, Seller reserves the right to cancel this contract without further notice or grant an extension to the Buyer at a penalty of $100,000 per day. In the event that Buyer does not possess sufficient funds to meet these terms, Buyer may elect to name Seller in his/her Last Will and Testament and/or as sole beneficiary of the life insurance policy taken out in the amount owed.

*Buyer acknowledgement to “Watch your back, Jack.” ________  (Buyer Initials)

Upon successful Close of Escrow, Buyer agrees to be placed on the First Bank of Asbestos mailing list to learn about exciting new products and promotions before anyone else. Removal from our “Happy Homeowner Database” or enforcement of the provisions set forth in the National Do Not Call List Registry will result in Buyer missing out on special deals and helpful new homeowner tips, but participation is completely voluntary. Buyer is free to waive monthly subscription to “Understanding the Home We Told You We Know Nothing About” newsletter at any time.

*Buyer acknowledges that we still have the bunny.   _________  (Buyer Initials)

We thank you for selecting a First Bank of Asbestos home and look forward to denying your refinance application in the future on the grounds that there may or may not be a leaky underground missile silo on the premises that we don’t know s&$% about.

Buyer                                                                    Date

First Bank of Asbestos Representative                         Date

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Short Sale Confidential

The clandestine meeting took place at twelve thirty on a Thursday. Two men armed with black briefcases approached each other in the darkness, flanked by muscle-bound henchmen who busied themselves looking tough. The second-hand light refused to fully illuminate either faction.

“You were to come alone,” Drago admonished his older rival.

“As were you,” Arvloski retorted.

A mirthless chuckle escaped Drago’s thin lips, his face a collaboration of sharp angles and shadows.

“You know me too well, Niko,” he confessed. “As I know you.”

“Is that it,” Arvloski asked, pointing at the case with his dimpled chin.

“Niko, my old friend. What is your hurry,” Drago responded. “You seem nervous.”

“Not nervous, Comrade. What is the word … eager?”

“I have never known you not to ask of Katerina,” Drago pressed.

Arvloski swallowed hard before responding. His sallow pallor was made all the more evident by the pronounced puffiness beneath his sleepless blue eyes.

“And what of my dotchka?”

“She grows large with child,” Drago informed him, pausing before twisting the knife. “We think to call him Nicholas.”

Arvloski blanched, his jaundiced skin verging on translucence. He took half a step towards his smirking adversary with balled fists before catching himself. He didn’t feel his jagged fingernails digging into the meaty palms of his giant paws.

“There will be time enough for hugs later, Niko,” Drago taunted. “Let us first do this business that has you so … eager.”

“Open the case and hand it to Sergei,” Arvloski instructed, nodding at the behemoth in the black t-shirt that was no fewer than four sizes too small.

“Niet. You will open your case and hand it to Petr,” Drago countered. “Then I give you mine.”

The two men stared at each other, refusing to blink, before the distant warbling of a car alarm pierced the tense silence.

“We open cases at the same time,” Arvloski suggested, losing the battle of wills. “On count of three.”

Drago withdrew the gold cross he wore around his neck and rubbed it between a calloused thumb and finger as he considered the proposal. Coming to a decision, he tucked the well-worn charm back into the unruly thatch of chest hair that struggled against an overmatched v-neck sweater.

“Da, count of three,” he agreed.

“Adeen,” Arvloski led, unlatching the spring-loaded clasp on his case with a satisfying snap.

“Dva,” Drago followed, unlatching his case as well.

“It had better be in there, Comrade,” Arvloski warned.

“That is going for the both of us, Niko,” Drago replied.

The men nodded and finished the count in unison as their goons tensed for battle.


As the lids on both cases swung open, revealing the contents within, the group was suddenly bathed in blinding, white light.

“Politsii! Politsii,” Sergei bellowed.

The cases fell to the ground as panic-stricken men fumbled over one another in their haste to flee. A new voice called out above the ruckus, but Arvloski was too focused on the item lying on the ground next to one of the upended cases to notice. Blinking the sight back into his eyes, he reached for it.

“Arlen, just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Hearing his name jolted the loss mitigation specialist back to his senses. He looked across the break room at the disapproving female face staring down at him from the bank of switches that controlled the overhead lights.

“Is that my ahi,” Shelby from internal auditing demanded, pointing at the saran wrapped mass lying on the floor. She took in the melting ice that lined the open briefcase sitting next to it with a heavy sigh.

“Not the black market organ syndicate thing again? What is wrong with you people? And who smells like dijon,” she asked.

Arlen dabbed at the yellow streaks on his cheeks with one hand while fingering the spent packet of fancy mustard in his pocket.

“Nice touch. Let me guess, you’re a terminal liver patient this time,” Shelby posited. “Can’t you freaks at least use your own lunch?”

“Oh, relax, Shelby,” Drake said from off to Arlen’s left. He was fishing change out of his pocket as he surveyed the vending machine options. The second case lay open at his feet, a stock approval letter template resting within its felt lining. “Just having some fun. We didn’t hurt your precious tuna.”

“If you two paid as much attention to the poor excuses for files that end up on my desk as you do to these little diversions, maybe we wouldn’t have a six month logjam,” she countered, hands on hips, tapping the blood red nail of her index finger with each of the last four syllables.

“Get back to work,” she ordered the hulking security guards who were doing their best to blend in with the faux wood paneling on the walls.

“Yes, ma’am,” a neckless crew-cut answered, shooing his charges past the skeletal exec.

“The eight hundred line is fielding ten bomb threats an hour, and you morons are in here playing Cloak and Dagger,” she hissed.

“Won’t happen again, ma’am,” Crew-cut promised as he slunk out of the room.

“What’s it matter anyway,” Arlen wondered as he climbed to his feet. “I have seven hundred open files on my desk, for crissakes. Seven hundred.”

“Oh, cry me a river, Evita,” Drake retorted. “I’m sitting on nine fifty, easy. We’re pissing in the jet wash here, Shell. Where are our reinforcements?”

“Upper management is talking about bringing on new staff,” she answered.

Arlen guffawed.

“Yeah, they’ve been talking about that for the last fourteen months. Shoot, when I took this gig, I figured there was a putt putt in the conference room.”

“No kidding, right,” Drake echoed. “I couldn’t believe it when I found out we didn’t have video poker on our PCs. Couldn’t think of any other reason it would take eight months to process a file.”

“I know, I know,” Shelby admitted. “I thought we got off for company scuba trips to the Caymans between approvals.”

“Look,” she relented. “We’re all under a lot of pressure, but you can’t keep doing this stuff. The prank phone calls to non-delinquent account holders, the BPO dead pools, the contests to see which one of you can collect the most four letter words or longest hold times from Real Estate agents … ”

Arlen and Drake did their best not to smile as they shared a furtive glance.

“Yes, I know about all of it,” Shelby assured them. “There are real people out there depending on us to resolve these short sales, no matter how futile it may seem. It’s time you started taking your jobs seriously.”

“You’re absolutely right,” Arlen acknowledged.

“Straight and narrow from here on out,” Drake promised. “Scout’s honor.”

“Good,” Shelby replied. “Now clean up this mess and get back to your phones, would you?”

She turned on her three inch heel and strode towards the door, dousing the confined space in the oddly medicinal scent of hers that had long reminded Arlen of Vicks VapoRub.

“Let’s play pin the tail on the lien release tomorrow,” Drake whispered as he sidled up next to Arlen.

Arlen nodded and the conspirators bumped fists, splaying their fingers upon contact to mimic an explosion.

“Shell,” Arlen called after the retreating auditor.

“Yes,” she responded, turning back to face the grinning pair as she reached the hall.

“Don’t forget your fish.”

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An Honest Comparative Market Analysis

Comparative Market Analysis to Establish Top Market Value for the Property Located at 8560 E Turkey Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85250

Prepared for James and Heidi Knives on 1/21/2011

Recent  Activity in Hayden Estates

(7/21/10 – 1/21/11)

Status #Listings List Price Sold Price Sale/List Price Approx. Sq Ft List Price Per Ft Sold Price Per Ft Days on Market
Active 2 Low
Pending 1 Low
Closed 4 Low
116.82    166.28
Overall 7 Low

Notes: Subject property purchased on 7/26/06 for $552,500.

Conclusions: Carry the two, divide by four = you’re f*&%$d.


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The Steadfasts barged through the garage door as the familial octopus they’d become, arms and legs of varying sizes jostling to cross the threshold first.

“Gently, Blaine! Put it down gently,” Alexis bellowed after the seven year old victor who approached the kitchen counter at breakneck speed.

“Mom, Blaine pushed me,” five year old Daniella squealed, already back in hot pursuit of her brother.

The second bag landed with a satisfying crash mere seconds after the first. Alexis had long suspected that Jason insisted on paper for that very reason. She didn’t buy the environmental angle, not when the trip to and from the store was made in an Escalade.

“I won! I won,” the elder child trumpeted.

“Cheater,” his sister shrieked.

“What did I say about slamming groceries,” Alexis admonished. “And, Blaine, don’t push your sister.”

Jason propped the door open for her with his backside as he held two bags of his own.

She scooched past him with the sleeping Anne Marie in her arms.  Already stocked up on groceries for the week, the colicky six month old was the ostensible reason for the redundant trip. It was the rhythm of the road they’d been after.

Tip-toeing past the carnage in the kitchen, careful to give wide berth to the flyers that were strewn all over the floor, Alexis disappeared into the deeper regions of the house.

“How many times do I have to tell you to leave the flyer stand on the coffee table,” Jason moaned, the door slamming shut behind him.

“Not that anyone’s taking them anyway,” he mumbled as he deposited his bags on the counter and began retrieving the forty nine scattered reams of high gloss photo paper. There had been fifty originally, but he’d taken one in to the office to hang on the bulletin board exactly twelve months ago to the day.

“Hey, hon,” he said as he finished up and followed her into the family room clutching one of the flyers. “I was thinking, maybe we could hold some kind of auction or something to increase the demand. Maybe raffle off tickets or …”

The thought died as he turned the corner to find a group of people seated around the sunken conversation pit at the base of the fireplace, staring at him with a tense mixture of anticipation and dread.

“Mom? Carl? What’s going on here,” he demanded.

“Hello, Jason. Please come have a seat. There’s something we’d like to discuss with you,” a stranger sitting slightly apart from the rest of the group invited, his incessant blinking exacerbated by an ill-fitting pair of bifocals. His bald head looked hot in the glow of the 1980’s vintage canned halogen lights.

“Not that I don’t appreciate the invitation to sit down in my own house, but I think I’d rather stand, thank you. What’s this all about, Gerry,” he asked, turning towards the well-groomed man in the grey slacks and pullover sitting closest to the de facto master of ceremonies.

“Just hear the man out, Jason,” Gerry answered.

“Hear him out about what? What is this?”

“This is just a group of your friends and family that cares about you, Jason. Very much,” the stranger responded.

“Oh my God. I’ve seen this on TV. This is an intervention, right,” he asked, panning each face as if he were polling the jury after a guilty verdict.

“If you want to stand on formalities, yes, this is an intervention. Really, though, it’s just a chance for those who care about you most to share their concerns and offer their support,” the stranger replied.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me. Is it about the coffee? I mean, I know I probably drink more than the next guy, but-”

“It’s not about the coffee, Jason,” his wife said from off to his left. He hadn’t seen her reenter the room.

“You’re in on this,” he asked in horror.

“I invited them, Jason.”

He stared at his wife with mouth agape, trying to wrap his mind around the scope of the betrayal.

“Judas,” he hissed.

“Your wife asked us here today because she loves you, Jason. No one is here to attack you. We are here to help. Now, are you willing to listen to what your friends have to say,” the stranger asked, his fleshy Adam’s apple bobbing beneath his double chin with each syllable.

“Not until someone tells me what this is all about,” he answered. “And where are the kids?”

“The kids are in good hands, Jason,” the stranger assured him.

The room fell into a pronounced moment of uncomfortable silence. The assembled guests looked back and forth at each other, willing one another to break the seal.

“It’s your price, Jason,” Gerry finally informed him to the room’s relief. “We are concerned about your list price.” He started to run a soft hand through his slick-backed, black hair before thinking better of it and smoothing the disturbed follicles back into place.

“What about my list price,” Jason challenged his Realtor, crossing his arms in defiance.

“It’s, um, well it’s … it’s high, Jason. It’s just too damn high,” Gerry spilled, punctuating his words with a year’s worth of frustration.

“Too high, huh? Like the Crawford’s place down the street was too high,” Jason countered.

“We’ve discussed this, Jason,” Gerry reminded him. “That comp is three years old.”

“I know what this house is worth. We just need the right buyer,” Jason said.

“No, Jason,” Gerry retorted. “You know what this house WAS worth. Lotta market fallout under the bridge since oh seven.  Besides, that home was fully remodeled from the ground up. Yours … could stand a little work.” His eyes darted to the imitation crystal behemoth masquerading as a chandelier in the adjoining dining room.

“That’s not what you said when you took the listing, Gerry,” Jason accused. “I seem to remember you going on and on about our indoor-outdoor carpeting when you were trying to get my signature.”

Gerry hung his head in shame. The reflection in his brilliantly polished black shoes captured an enabler’s remorse.

“He’s a Realtor, Jay. What’d you expect,” the man sitting to Gerry’s right asked. “Look, there’s no excuse for him shining you on in the beginning like that, but he wanted the business. He’s trying to atone for it now.”

“I’d expect this from him,” Jason replied, jerking a thumb towards his despondent agent, “but not you, Carl. I mean, my own flesh and blood …”

“Come off it, Jay. I’ve been telling you all along that your price is stupid, but would you listen to your big brother? Nooooooooo.”

“What do you know about housing values, Carl? You’re in pharmaceutical sales, for crissakes!”

“Doesn’t take an economist to know your house isn’t worth a hundred grand more than you paid for it back in the boom years. Gerry showed me the last round of comps. It’s ugly, Jay.”

“You can’t stand to see your kid brother do better than you, can you, Gerry? It’s just like that time with the bike. I get a new ten-speed when you were still tooling around on a hand-me-down Schwinn, and you manage to accidentally crash it into the Flanders’ queen palm. How convenient.”

“Jesus, not the bike again. It was an accident!”

“Sure it was, Gerry,” Jason snipped. “Sure it was.”

His big brother shook his considerable head and looked to the couple on his immediate right to pick up the baton.

“Bruce? Maggie? What are you doing here,” Jason wondered, taking in their presence for the first time.

“The Maguires are here as concerned neighbors, Jason,” the ringleader interjected, his glowing dome now verging on spontaneous combustion.

The elderly couple eyed each other in evident discomfort, hoping the other would take the lead. Finally, Maggie spoke.

“It’s just that Bruce is getting ready to retire, Jason,” she began. “Now that the kids are gone, we’re thinking about putting the house up for sale in the spring. It’s more than we need, and we’d really like to do some traveling.”

Gerry perked up at that, reaching into his wallet for a business card.

“That’s great, but what does it have to do with me,” Jason asked.

“We’re worried about the effect your home is having on values,” Bruce answered. “You’ve been on the market so long that people are going to start wondering if there’s something wrong with the neighborhood.”

“That’s absurd,” Jason boomed. “You’re coming down on ME when everyone else on the block is just giving their homes away? You should be thanking me! The Smiths or the Gundersons are who you ought’a be talking to right now, not me.”

“I’ll admit that I was happy to see you give it a shot when you first went on the market,” the old-timer said, scratching a suspicious looking cluster of basal cells on the tip of his leathery nose. “Hadn’t seen a price like that in ages. I thought you were nuts, but figured you’d drop the price until you eventually found the market.”

“The market is where we’re priced, Bruce. These buyers and their agents are just too stupid to realize it. If they expect us to give them our house for what the short sale and foreclosure trash is going for, they’ve got another thing coming,” Jason argued.

“For a smart guy, you sure are dumb. The market is what a buyer is willing to pay you, son,” Bruce sighed. “Look, if you won’t do it for yourself, do it for us. We still have a little equity in our place, and we need every penny we can get out of it. Figure at least thirty percent for the down payment on the condo in Sun Lakes, another fifteen thousand or so for the medical bills that Medicare won’t cover and a few other expenses, and there isn’t much left. Every day you sit on the market at that ridiculous price, our golden years get a little less golden.”

Maggie removed a tube of ointment from her denim purse and passed it to her husband. Bruce smiled his thanks and applied a substantial dollop to his angry nose. The musty aroma of wet putty filled the room.

“Not to be rude, Bruce, but how is any of that my problem? I’m holding the line here so that all of us get the prices we deserve. I’m doing you a favor.”

Maggie patted her husband’s knee as Bruce shook his head.

“It’ll be alright, sweetheart. We’ll just have to wait another couple of years. I’ll ask Agnes about picking up that night shift at the diner.”

“And what about you, Mom,” Jason asked the diminutive figure to Maggie’s right. “You can’t be in on this. You just can’t.”

A single tear started the slow journey from her false eyelash to the point of her skeletal chin, leaving a contrail of mascara in its wake.

“Oh my, sweet, sweet boy,” she blubbered before breaking down into soul-rattling sobs. “How could I have let this happen to you?”

“Don’t cry, Mom,” he pleaded. “Please don’t cry.” His lower lip started quivering as Alexis walked over and put a reaffirming hand on his shoulder. He collapsed into her waiting arms.

“Let it out,” she cooed in his ear. “Let it all out.”

Jason did exactly that. He cried openly for the first time in his adult life, purging his body of the shame and frustration that gushed forth with his tears.

“I’m sorry,” he wailed. “I’m so, so sorry.”

Hands engulfed him as Jason suddenly found himself at the epicenter of a group hug.

“It’s okay,” one voice said. “We’re sorry, too,” said another.

“So what now,” Jason asked of no one in particular when the cluster loosened, all still dabbing at moist eyes.

“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Stephan Crawford, of Crawford and Associates Appraisals,” the previously unidentified master of ceremonies revealed. “We have our top residential appraiser scheduled for ten AM tomorrow. It’s all arranged and paid for. All you have to do is be here to let him in.”

Jason blew out the breath he wasn’t aware he’d been holding.

“You mean tomorrow? But I’ve got an appointment in the morning, and-”

“It’s taken care of, Jason. We’ve cleared it with your boss,” Stephan assured him. “Isn’t that right, Henry?”

A dour looking man entered the room from the kids’ wing with Blaine and Daniella in tow. His black on black attire was at odds with the Little Mermaid tiara that sat atop his mussed silver hair. He had the desperate look of an aristocrat who had just spent the weekend in county lockup.

“Mr. Samuels,” Jason gaped.

“Hello, Jason,” the new arrival began. “You are not welcome at the firm until this situation has been … resolved.”  He chewed on the last word as he removed the undignified adornment from his angular head.

“But, sir,” Jason protested. “The Mayfair file-”

“Will be waiting for you when you get back,” his cadaverous boss interrupted. “You’re not doing anybody any good right now. Craig Tallman will handle all of your files until you get your head screwed on right.”

“Tallman,” Jason snorted. “He couldn’t hang a jury with twelve feet of rope and a stepladder.”

“And neither can you in your present state,” the senior partner countered. “The billing errors, the first year lapses in judgment … need I mention the fiasco with the character witness in the McElroy case? Put your house in order so we can get you back to your winning ways. That’s an order.”

Jason nodded his resigned acceptance.

“Besides,” the humorless lawyer continued. “We took a vote at the latest meeting of partners that you managed to miss. One more mention of your house or your lousy agent-”

“Hey,” Gerry objected.

“-and we strap you to the one-way gurney ourselves,” Mr. Samuels concluded behind arched eyebrows. “Understood?”

“Understood, sir,” Jason confirmed. “I know how difficult this has been on all of you. I know I have a problem, and I’m ready to get help.”

“Anything you need, Jason,” Stephan offered on behalf of the group. “We’re here for you.”

“I know that, and I can’t tell you how much it means to me,” he acknowledged, taking a step towards the kitchen. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m parched. Can I get anyone a drink?”

Several requests for water followed him into the kitchen.

“Well, that went about as well as it could have,” Alexis suggested, hugging her children to her hips.

Stephan glanced at his watch.

“Five, four, three, two ..”

Heads turned sharply at the sound of a slamming door. Moments later, a massive engine springing to life preceded the squeal of tires as a vehicle careened down the driveway.

“Jason,” Alexis screamed, running after him.

“Let him go,” Stephan advised.

“What do you mean, let him go,” she demanded, stopping to stare at the weary appraiser.

“He’ll come back when he’s ready.”

“But he’s sick,” she protested. “He could hurt our equity!”

“Yes, he could,” the appraiser admitted. “But he has to make the choice voluntarily. All the comparable market analyses in the world won’t do a bit of good if he is not open to the possibility of change. Sometimes an FVA has to hit rock bottom before finding the strength to accept treatment.”

“FVA,” she asked.

“Former Value Addict.”

“And if he never comes around,” she posited.

“They always come around,” Stefan assured her.

“But if he doesn’t?”

“Then we move to phase two,” Stephan informed her.

“What’s phase two?”

“You don’t want to know,” he answered.

The appraiser removed a cell phone from the holster on his belt and made a call.

“Hi, Gloria, it’s Stephan,” he announced to the person on the other end. “I’m at the Steadfast residence.”

He took a deep breath and scanned the eager faces staring back at him before continuing.

“We’ve got a runner.”

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Damon’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket as he stepped out of the stately house and into the warmth of late April in Scottsdale, Arizona. Checking the display, he recognized the number from the four previous calls he’d let roll to voicemail. Whoever it was, his mystery caller was pretty keen on speaking with him right now. He sighed as the door closed behind him, deciding to break his personal rule about taking calls while showing property.

“Excuse me for a moment,” Damon said to the young couple waiting on the porch, pointing to the phone.

“No problem,” the wife answered, running a hand over the lone straggler in her otherwise perfectly coiffed, auburn hair. “We’ll go ahead and get Maddux in his seat.”

Nodding, Damon pressed the “receive” button and put the phone to his ear.

“This is Damon,” he informed the caller in a slightly quizzical tone. Not for the first time, he wondered if he sounded helpful or confused.

“Yes, um, hi, this is Peggy Dragic. You showed my listing on Oak? Just curious what the buyers thought.”

The vein over Damon’s right eye throbbed with aggravation as his cobalt blue eyes narrowed to angry slits.

“You’re kidding, right,” he demanded, the sing-songy eagerness in his voice replaced with an icy baritone. “You’ve called five times in the past ten minutes for feedback?”

“I have a very eager seller,” she responded, by way of an apology.

“Look, Peggy, I’m right in the middle of an appointment. If you want to call back with the property address, you can leave it on my voicemail. I’ll review my notes when I’m done here and call you back,” he directed, willing his rigid jaw to relax. The last thing he needed was a trip to the dentist to fix another filling.

“Surely you remember it,” the agent pressed. “8423 North Oak – the beautifully remodeled Tudor with a split guest suite and stained glass clerestory windows in the foyer.”

He glanced at his black Yukon, where his clients were struggling to load their squirming nine month old. He couldn’t help but smile at their plight. Dylan had started reacting to his seat like a cat to an ice bath at about the same age. Damon suspected it was because he didn’t want to face backwards anymore. No longer content within his own little world, he was ready to join the big, forward-facing one.

“Hmm, doesn’t ring a bell,” he lied, deciding to play along. “What day did you say I showed it?”

“Today, between ten and eleven,” the incredulous agent informed him.

Damon pulled the phone away from his ear to check the time.

10:31 AM.

“Today? We must not have gotten to it yet. Nothing but overpriced dogs to this point,” he said. His mouth curved into a toothless grin.

“But I just got off the phone with the seller! She said you were just there!”

“Wait … did you say Oak,” he asked.

“Yes, Oak! There’s a koi pond in the front courtyard,” the agent clarified.

“No koi ponds today, just a stagnant bog that someone is using to brew West Nile virus. Couldn’t have been your listing,” he assured her, looking down at the half dozen carp of varied brilliant colors loitering near his feet.

“She was home when you came through,” the agent insisted. “You were there for half an hour!”

Movement in the living room window caught Damon’s attention.  A wrinkled face disappeared behind the elegant taupe curtain when he turned to look.

“Tudor, you say? We did see one Tudor, but it needed a lot of work,” he replied.

“My listing has newer appliances and a tankless hot water system,” the agent corrected.

“Well the one I’m thinking of smelled like an old lady’s apothecary chest and had the most garish flooring I have ever seen. The husband called it the “La Vida Loca House.”

“I’ll have you know that is the finest terracotta tile money can buy, imported directly from an artisan in Pienza. Each piece is handmade, baked in the sun for seventy two hours and fired in a 16th century kiln,” she huffed.

“No kidding? It looked like something my kid made in art class,” Damon responded. “And not for nothing, but Michelangelo he is not.”

“Well, what did they think about the kitchen? Is that not a gourmet’s delight,” she asked.

“If you are into cherry wood and granite, I suppose,” Damon admitted. “My people are alderwood and corian people. The kitchen would be the first thing they’d have to gut.”

“You won’t find another piece of property like this,” she pressed. “Where else can you get an acre and a half backing to state trust land in Scottsdale?”

“Maintenance would be a killer,” Damon countered. “My people are relocating from a studio apartment in San Francisco. He doesn’t even own a lawnmower.”

“How about the price,” she asked, hesitating slightly.

Damon allowed an audible sigh to preface his reply.

“You already know you’re overpriced by two hundred thousand, Peggy. No sense belaboring the point. It’s out of their range, but we wanted to take a look just in case it was move-in ready and the seller was willing to deal a little bit.”

“She is open to all offers,” the agent replied.

Damon realized he was pacing and began walking towards the SUV, where his clients had finally wrestled their sobbing child into his seat. He made a mental note to stop for a snack, toy, bottle of methadone or any other anti-tantrum talisman one could purchase at a Circle K.

“I appreciate that, but I just don’t see this house working for my people, Peggy. They want a split master, need an extra half bath, hate stairs …”

“Any suggestions? She really needs out of that house,” the desperate agent interrupted. “Since her husband passed away last year, it’s become too much for her to handle. Her family is all waiting for her back in Toledo.”

“Just between me and you, as a professional courtesy, it’s not going to sell while she’s living there. Her stuff is all over the place, family pictures staring down at you from every wall. Didn’t help that she followed us through the entire house, pointing out where one of her kids bumped his head forty years ago and the laundry room baseboard that Daisy, the Golden Retriever, chewed up in the mid eighties. My people felt like intruders.”

“I know, I know,” the crestfallen agent confessed. “I keep telling her to take the dog for a walk during showings. It died ten years ago, but she doesn’t know that.”

“Put her on a plane to Toledo and crash the price. It’s too far gone for a mom and pop. Your buyer is an investor.”

Damon climbed behind the wheel and buckled his seat belt while pinning the phone between his ear and shoulder in a well-practiced maneuver. After checking his passengers to ensure that everyone was secure, he started the car.

“Well, not what I wanted to hear, but I appreciate your candor,” the agent said, partially obscured by the throaty engine roaring to life.

“No sweat, hope it helps,” Damon offered.

“It does, thanks for taking the time.”

“Sure thing, Peggy. Best of luck,” Damon concluded, terminating the call and dropping the phone into the grey cup holder in the console. He looked in the rearview at the young woman in the back seat, beaming despite the now shrieking child next to her.

“So what do you think, guys? Still feeling it,” he asked.

“Absolutely, it’s everything we’ve ever wanted,” the computer programmer with the prematurely salt and pepper flecked buzz cut sitting next to him gushed, breaking from his usual recalcitrance to answer for them both.

“Terrific, let’s go back to the office and write it up. One thing, though,” Damon teased.

“What,” both spouses asked in unison.

“We’re gonna offer a hundred grand less than we discussed.”

All three smiled as they pulled away from the curb, leaving 8423 N. Oak Drive in their wake.

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