Three Real Estate agents sat shoulder to shoulder at the bar of a local watering hole, sipping happy hour cocktails like they did every Friday. One made his bones in the current market as a bank owned property (REO) specialist. Another had carved out a niche in the short sale arena. The third had migrated to property management after the bubble burst.
“So, Stanley,” Wayne, the REO agent, began as he adjusted his considerable girth from one cheek to the other on an overmatched bar stool. “How go things in the land of non-successful closings?”
The perpetually nervous short sale agent jumped at the accompanying nudge from his ham hocked companion. His black, horn-rimmed glasses were undisturbed, but he adjusted them anyway.
“Going just fine, thank you very much,” he replied; his clipped, aristocratic voice accompanied by an explosion of slender fingers. “These banks are finally getting the idea that it’s better to offload losing assets before they hit their books. Better systems, better staffing, better closing rates … I’d say your aorta isn’t the only thing that’s gonna need a stent soon, my ample friend.”
He made an “O” with his thumb and fingertips, closing one eye and peering at his obnoxious companion through the opening with the other before slowly collapsing his knuckles into a fist.
“How’s that pipeline of yours looking these days?”
Wayne guffawed; a deep, throaty chortle. He fiddled with the gargantuan turquoise ring on his left pinkie.
“Please,” he dismissed. “I’m carrying fourteen listings right now, and have six BPOs lined up for this weekend. As long as your deals keep blowing up at the zero hour, I’ll have a job.”
He tossed a handful of pistachios into his reddening maw.
“Just listen to you two,” the property manager said as she set down her scotch and soda with a loud thunk. “Having a pissing contest in your own clients’ graveyard.”
Stanley and Wayne rolled their eyes as they braced for the perfunctory scolding.
“These are real people losing their homes, and all you buffoons can do is laugh about it as you take your blood money?”
“Lighten up, Agnes,” Wayne answered. “I don’t like these banks anymore than you do, but someone has to list their properties. Would you rather they just sit there and collect weeds? Maybe you don’t mind living with vacant crack houses in your neighborhood, but I’d rather sell them to nice families who will fix them up and actually add value to the community. ”
“He’s right, your Highness,” Stanley confirmed. “Besides, how can you accuse me of anything but heroism? While you’ve been hiding out in property management limbo and shirking your obligations, I’m helping bail my old clients out of their dire circumstances. You hit the eject button, and left me and Wayne here to clean up the mess. If anything, we deserve medals.”
Agnes shook with rage, her weathered face going beet red beneath a salt and pepper crew cut.
“I moved into an arena where I could actually help my clients hold onto their homes instead of killing their dreams of home ownership for the next two to five years,” she railed. “What do you tell your underwater clients who are forced to move by a job relocation or a family crisis? Sorry, but let’s crash your credit so I can get paid? Good luck buying or leasing a home wherever you are heading?”
“Quit being so melodramatic, Agnes,” Wayne chastised. “You’re going to give Stanley another stroke.”
Both looked at Stanley, who, true to form, appeared to be vacillating somewhere between diabetic shock and epileptic fit. A scent reminiscent of Lysol and cough drops emanated from the beads of clammy sweat that rose on his forehead.
“Breathe, little buddy, breathe,” Wayne coached as Agnes signaled the bartender to hit her again.
The waif of a man closed his eyes and focused on his happy place, 2005, until the episode passed.
“Let’s just agree that we are all contributing in our own way,” Stanley squeaked through clenched teeth.
“Agreed,” Agnes mumbled into her drink.
“Agreed,” Wayne declared with gusto, holding his pint aloft. “We are Real Estate knights, come forth to slay the marauding dragons!”
“Pardon me,” a new voice interrupted.
The trio swiveled on their stools to take in the interloper before responding in unison.
The newcomer raised the pistol in his right hand and shot each agent in the face. The bar erupted in chaos as the remaining patrons fled.
“What,” the gunman demanded in response to the bartender’s frozen stare.
“That one said he’d stop the foreclosure,” he explained, gesturing at Stanley’s rigid body with his chin.
“This fat bastard had the locks changed and all my stuff thrown out on the street,” he said, his foot swallowed by Wayne’s ample abdomen as he kicked the REO agent in the ribs.
“And Miss Congeniality here denied my application for not one, but two rental properties on account of my ruined credit. I’ve been living behind the Luby’s on 12th the last two weeks.”
The bartender gulped, his tired eyes widening in recognition.
“Heard the guy that sold me the place back in oh six left the business entirely,” Jerry confided.
The bartender turned to run.
“Can’t miss neighborhood, eh, Ted,” Jerry asked as he leveled the gun and squeezed the trigger a fourth and final time.