Willy was a liar.
Not a teller of tall tales, not a stretcher of the truth, but a pathological liar. Whether swearing that his Uncle Doug played cowbell on Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper,’ or assuring an unsuspecting child that one plus one equals purple, weaving extravagant falsehoods came as naturally to the forty six year old Nobel laureate/nuclear physicist/bratwurst-eating champion as breathing.
So it was that Willy found himself speaking with a Real Estate agent one late autumn morning, outlining his very specific criteria for the home he intended to purchase.
“The community must be horse-friendly,” Willy informed the agent. “Did I tell you Starchaser showed at Belmont last year? Would have won if he didn’t come up lame half a length from the tape.”
Harris Burfect struggled to keep up, scribbling in the margins of a notepad already overwhelmed with his chicken-scratch. A cynic by nature, Harris had taken the appointment on the off chance that the Danny DeVito look-alike was legit. He’d learned his lesson about prematurely blowing off prospects as flakes the hard way.
“And no wells,” Willy continued. “Arsenic poisoning claimed his sire at the ranch I used to own in Montana.”
“We’ll certainly have the property inspected for hazar-”
“Wasn’t the well itself that did him in,” Willy insisted, waving off the agent’s placation. “It was old man Monticore. He was always jealous of my stallions, as he was right to be. He couldn’t raise a barn in Amish country, let alone a thoroughbred.”
“Autopsy was ruled inconclusive,” he continued, making air quotes with his sausage fingers. “But he had everyone from the coroner to the constable in his hip pocket. Those thieves had been trying to run me out of that two-bit town ever since I struck oil in the summer of two thousand and two. Greedy pigs would stop at nothing to get me off that claim.”
Harris shook out the cramp in his hand and turned to a new page. Words such as ‘ranch’ and ‘oil’ had dollar bills dancing in his mind’s eye despite his swirling doubts.
“Okay, no wells,” he yielded, eager to steer the conversation back on course. “You okay with septic systems? Most horse properties pre-date the sewer, and not too many ranchers around here have bothered to take on the expense of linking up to it.”
“Well that simply won’t do,” Willy replied. “Septic systems are a biological nightmare. Did you know that the leech field of a typical alternative waste disposal system contains more radioactive residue than a centrifuge that has processed atomic material within the past twenty four hours?”
“I’m not familiar with-”
“It’s true,” Willy assured him. “Over the years, I’ve seen far more extra fingers and missing teeth in remote villages where such waste systems are used than I did during my humanitarian mission to Chernobyl back in ninety eight.”
“Fascinating,” Harris admitted, gawking at the vaguely unhealthy-looking man across the table from him. “How long were you there?”
“Only about six months,” Willy responded. “I wanted to stay, but the intel I’d gathered was deemed too urgent by the powers that be. In hindsight, it was for the best that they pulled me out when they did. Started noticing these … growths.”
Willy rubbed a stooped shoulder as he stared off into the infinity through glassy, brown eyes.
“Powers that be,” Harris wondered. “You mean like CIA?”
Willy pulled back from wherever he’d gone and looked straight at the agent, winking.
“I’d tell you, but I’d have to kill you.”
“Got it, moving on,” Harris allowed. “Have you spoken with a lender about your financing options yet?”
He turned his head to follow the scent of rosemary that passed by on a tray, instantly regretting his own order. He found a dismissive smile on his client’s ruddy face when he turned back.
“I’ll be paying cash,” Willy informed Harris, signalling the agent closer.
Harris leaned across the table to steal a glance at the clipped wad of cash Willy produced from the front pocket of his one size too small, navy blue coat.
“Not that I keep all of my money in greenbacks,” Willy assured him, fiddling with the gold chain around his neck. “If you don’t think ten million will get it done, I’ll prep my assistant to move some bullion. Or maybe a couple of the Rembradts.”
“Very good,” Harris gulped, picturing a humorless courier walking into the title company with an attache case handcuffed to his wrist. His internal crazy alarm had moved to DEFCON-3, but he was willing to play out the string. He’d already invested this much time.
“So when do you want to start looking?”
“Straight away,” Willy answered, checking his watch as he stood. “As soon as I get back from the Maldives.”
“Now if you’ll excuse me,” he said. “I have a B-2 Spirit to catch.”
Harris made a move for his wallet.
“Please,” Willy said, staying the agent’s arm with his hand. “You insult me.”
He peeled a few bills from his roll and dropped them on the table.
“Have a productive trip, Mr. Stiffu,” Harris said as he extended his hand.
“Can’t shake,” Willy lamented, tossing him a flippant two-finger salute instead. “My attorneys advise it could potentially void the insurance policy.”
“We’ll be in touch. Be ready.”
With that, the squat, little enigma of a man turned on his heel and strolled out of the cafe, stopping once to tell an older couple studying a menu that the eggs benedict were excellent today.
A bemused grin spread across the agent’s face. He was still smiling when the waitress came by to clear the two plates of half-eaten pancakes and settle the check. Who knew? If even a fraction of what he’d been told was true, there might be a sale somewhere in the middle of it yet. Stranger things had happened.
Harris didn’t hear her as he polished off the last lukewarm swallow of coffee. He was preoccupied with the ornate insignia stamped across the saucer upon which the dainty cup had been resting.
Monticore Fine China.
“Son of a bitch,” Harris breathed.
“Sir,” the waitress said again, louder.
Harris looked up at the fresh-faced server.
“What am I supposed to do with this,” she asked, waving a stack of Monopoly money hidden beneath a one dollar bill. “Buy Park Place?”
“Sucker’s play,” Harris sighed, reaching for his wallet for the second time in five minutes. “Nobody lands on Boardwalk.”
Scottsdale, AZ – A Valley man attempting a tax deferred housing exchange has met with unlikely opposition: the self-described ‘ninety nine percent’.
Retired postal worker Bryce S. Rhite is currently in the middle of selling the South Scottsdale investment property he has owned for thirty years. Utilizing a device known as a 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange in Real Estate parlance, taxes from the capital gain will be deferred indefinitely so long as the proceeds from the sale are directed towards the purchase of a like property within a prescribed period of time.
This does not sit well with a group identifying itself as Occupy 8307 E. Clarendon Avenue.
“This is just another example of how the plutocrats fatten themselves off the blood of the proletariat,” Occupy spokesman Lester Yu told reporters as he picketed in front of the mid-century ranch home this morning.
“We sit in our underwater houses and pay our taxes,” Yu railed. “Yet one percenters like Mr. Rhite who still have equity in their properties don’t pay a nickel because their friends in Congress create special loopholes to keep wealth in the hands of the oligarchs.”
Another protester, dressed as an Ewok, told reporters that he is fed up with the empire using Endor as a staging area for its capitalistic imperialism. He was later arrested for urinating on a shrub.
The protest drew at least one unlikely participant in Leonard Short, the tenant currently living in the disputed property. Short acknowledged that he was grateful to Mr. Rhite for accepting his lease application despite his admittedly shaky credit and spotty employment record, but felt his landlord should have to pay his fair share like everyone else.
“I’ve got nothing bad to say about the man,” Short stated. “Except that he is a tick on the n*ts&ck of America.”
When reached for comment, Mr. Rhite was perplexed as to the furor surrounding his use of a popular tax code provision that is available to all.
“I bought this house for twenty two thousand dollars,” Rhite said. “Had to work five years of double shifts to save enough for the down payment. I’m not tryin’ to pull a fast one, just ready to get out of this property and into somethin’ else. Ain’t like the money’s goin’ under my mattress.”
That justification did little to mollify the Ewok, who jabbed at passersby with a stick while shouting, “No blood for oil!”
“I just want a little place in the mountains now,” Rhite added. “Pinetop, maybe Prescott.”
“Don’t we all,” Yu responded. “Don’t we all.”
For now, there is nothing the protesters can do to stop the tax-free sale. With the preponderance of attendees believing they had assembled to take part in a flashmob or to protest the less than stellar third season of Jersey Shore, however, that fact did little to dampen the group’s enthusiasm.
“Being out here, letting our voices be heard, is the only way to affect change,” a protester going by the name of Chaz proclaimed. “Or at least get on the news. Hi mom.”
— Paul Slaybaugh, BSRE News ©2011
Paradise Valley, AZ – Citing a lack of viable leads, local Real Estate giant, Kraken Realty has announced the cancellation of its annual ‘Strike Out Gout!’ charity event. A Valley institution since 1992, the popular fundraiser has been a bright spot in the fight against advanced podiatric disease for nearly two decades.
“It’s with great regret that I inform the residents of our great community that ‘Strike Out Gout’ has bowled its last frame,” Kraken marketing director Judd GiMente told reporters. “We thank everyone who has joined us in standing up to foot disease these past nineteen years, but all good publicity stunts must come to an end.”
Pressed for further explanation, GiMente acknowledged that underwhelming lead generation numbers factored heavily into the decision to abandon an event which raises tens of dollars each year.
“Look,” GiMente stated candidly. “At the end of the day, we are in the sales business, not the ‘let’s go blow a Saturday at the bowling alley’ business. If we can’t turn a little goodwill into some cold, hard dollars and cents, someone else can pick up the anti-microbial torch in the fight against fungus.”
Having expanded the event’s focus in recent years to include those burdened with bunions and corns resembling b-list celebrities, the news comes as a crushing blow to many suffering from embarrassing foot maladies.
“Medicare won’t cover my experimental treatment,” Scottsdale resident Dorothy Swellen lamented, tormented by a growth on her big toe that looks like Bea Arthur. “Without the help of ‘SOG,’ I don’t know how I’m going to pay for the cryogenic chamber or the bunsen burners.”
While sympathetic to the plight of those who have come to rely on the proceeds from the event, GiMente was quick to point out that it takes two to tango.
“In an ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ relationship, it doesn’t work when only one party is doing the scratching,” he claimed.
GiMente did admit that the choice in charitable cause may have had something to do with the disappointing lead conversion numbers.
“People with foot problems don’t like to move,” he said. “And the ones that do won’t even look at a two-story.”
Though there may be a void in the Valley’s collective conscience today, GiMente wouldn’t close the door on the possibility of future pseudo philanthropy.
“We’d like to get involved with a more ambulatory demographic at some point,” he added. “Maybe boredom?”
Whatever affliction the company dives into next, GiMente made it clear that it must be early stage.
“Can’t rightly have all of our leads dying in the middle of a transaction, now can we?”
– Paul Slaybaugh, BSRE News
This parody would be in violation of approximately 87 federal fair housing provisions if it weren’t complete and utter nonsense. Don’t tase me, bro!
In a stunning declaration, local Scottsdale Real Estate agent Barry Sniggles admitted today that his listing at 1007 N Firewater Blvd is not really a steal.
While it is unclear exactly what prompted the confession, Sniggles has been besieged with demands from consumers and REALTORs alike to recant his bombastic claims about the modest three bedroom starter home in recent weeks.
On a hastily arranged conference call, Sniggles told reporters that he regretted any prior advertising that may have led consumers to believe that the nondescript property was, in fact, anything more than a pedestrian Real Estate offering.
“I never set out to deceive anyone,” Sniggles responded when asked if his tweet on September 14th that ‘This Home is a Steal!’ was deliberately misleading. “But I can see how it would be taken out of context.”
Similar puffery has been documented on Sniggles’ Facebook page and within the descriptive content of the property listing itself.
Community activist Steven Caste has been one of the home’s most vocal detractors.
“I mean, it’s not like it’s the biggest piece of &%$? I’ve ever seen,” Caste said when reached for comment at his Scottsdale apartment. “But a steal? Not hardly. It’s at least ten thousand high and could stand some paint.”
“It’s not just this property,” competing Real Estate agent Ronald Cutcheons added. “He’s been doing this stuff for years. ‘Forever views!’ ‘I’m Beautiful Inside!’ … it’s all baloney. I can’t find a Mrs. Clean anywhere in the tax records, yet he claims she lives in every home he lists. It has to stop.”
For Sniggles, the revelation accompanies a personal pledge to remove all allusions to ‘theft,’ ‘larceny’ and ‘steals’ from his marketing.
“I don’t want to be the Realtor who cried wolf anymore,” Sniggles explained.
With several new prospects on the horizon, he won’t have to wait long for the first test of his resolve.
“I’ve got a new listing coming up in McCormick Ranch,” Sniggles said. “This one really is a ste- … I mean, an average value.”
The wind whipped up and down Oak Street, depositing stray leaves at the feet of the group loitering in front of the last house at the top of the hill. The late October chill worked its way inside loose seams and under plastic masks as the motley assemblage of superheroes and ghouls faced each other in the pale glow of a streetlamp.
“I h-h-heard one kid snuck in the window and n-n-never came back out,” Peter said through chattering teeth.
Batman for the third year in a row, the caped crusader clung to the handle of a hollow, plastic pumpkin that held the evening’s haul. Despite nearly three hours of relentless trick or treating, it remained alarmingly light.
“Yeah, the P-P-Perkins kid,” Tommy gulped, makeshift Frankenstein bolts jutting out of his grey neck. “All t-they found was his b-bike.”
“And he was a sixth g-grader,” Cameron added. He carved a reverent six into the night sky with his green lightsaber.
Conversation ceased as all eyes focused on the overgrown Victorian. Rumored to have been the scene of untold horrors years ago, it sat vacant for as long as they could remember. Though none of the boys was eager to venture any closer, they were desperate. Striking out at nearly every other house on the block, the old Gribsby house was one of only two with an illuminated front porch on this All Hallow’s Eve.
But who turned on the lights?
“You go,” Peter directed Tommy, nudging him with an artificially-muscled arm.
“Me,” Tommy squealed. “Why d-don’t you go?”
“Because I’ve been up there before,” Peter countered.
“Fibber,” Timmy accused. “When?”
“A couple years ago,” Peter lied, his face warming beneath his mask. “With some b-big kids. But if you’re too chicken, Cameron will do it.”
“Uh uh,” Cameron refused, his prosthetic ears flapping crazily as he shook his head.
“Wrong, you are,” he said in his best Yoda voice. “Another Skywalker, you s-seek.”
I’ll go,” little Emily Sue said.
Engrossed in negotiation, the three older boys didn’t hear her.
The gang had been unhappy to learn that their first unchaperoned Halloween came with the burden of babysitting Peter’s kid sister, and they had tried to ditch the Powerpuff Girl at every opportunity. Unable to shake their unwanted pink shadow, they had moved on to ignoring her.
“Rock, scissors, paper for it,” Peter suggested, knowing full well that his friends always threw rock.
Emily Sue broke from the pack and approached the house, her bright attire standing out in stark contrast to the dreary backdrop.
“Rock, paper, scissors, shoot,” Peter commanded, flattening his hand on the last word.
Neither of his friends flinched.
“Uh, Peter,” Tommy said, raising an arm inside his soiled, hand-me-down sportcoat to point. “Look.”
Peter followed Tommy’s extended finger to see his sister passing through the open courtyard gate.
“Em, no,” he whisper-shouted. “Come back!”
But she didn’t listen. The floor boards groaned as Emily Sue took a hesitant step onto the decrepit porch.
A dense tapestry of cobwebs clung to the gabled eaves and shimmered in the flickering light. She shuffled forward.
Each footfall scared more dust from its hiding place, stinging her eyes and tickling her nose.
She soon found herself standing before a monolithic oak door; its heavy, iron knocker well beyond her reach. Protected from the swirling wind beyond the porch, all sound disappeared save for her own shallow breathing. A glowing doorbell beckoned.
As she stretched towards it, the carriage light winked out, casting the house and Emily Sue into darkness.
… To Be Continued