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This Old House


Was it the sagging beam on my front porch?

Is that what drove you away?

Was it my flimsy windows? My unruly yard?

What about my fading paint convinced you that I was unworthy of a fresh coat?

When did all the trudging about up and down my stairs become too much of an annoyance? The groaning treads of the third and fifth risers no longer an amusing quirk of my personality, but an affront. A harbinger of imminent collapse.

Did you tire of my air conditioner running all day long to keep pace with your demands? Of the hard to change lights of my ceiling fans?

My pool? Its sparkling blue waters gone varying shades of green throughout your disinterested watch?

It was my citrus trees, wasn’t it? The ones you once admired so? The reality of fallen, rotting fruit replacing the visions of freshly squeezed juice and cocktail parties.

Was it my picket fence? Oh, the picket fence. Its sagging posts and missing planks no longer capable of keeping the world out and the warmth in. My once benevolent grin now a snarling menace.

I offered safe haven. You made me a prison.

But don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. There will be others. In fact, here comes a nice looking couple now. They look excited. The boy wants to climb my walls. I bet he’d even sneak out onto my patio roof to watch the fireworks as yours once did. Did I ever tell you about that time?

Well, it doesn’t matter now.

They see me.

Not my flaws. Not the features I lack. Not the promises I never made.

Me.

As you once did.

I will be happy.

And you will forever be the one who got away.

 

Goodbye, old friend,

– The Blue House

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BREAKING: Local Real Estate Agent Only Attends Tour for the Croissants

BREAKING: Local Real Estate Agent Only Attends Tour for the Croissants

Scottsdale, AZ – Real Estate agents have long utilized tour groups to expose their listing inventory to the local home selling community. A forum that allows agents to promote new and upcoming property listings to a group of fellow active area Realtors, the Real Estate tour group fosters the kind of behind-the-scenes marketing that many insist is greatly responsible for their success.

Or their gigantic backsides, at least.

In a stunning development, local Realtor Rich Anful claims that the four hour Tuesday morning boondoggles have added value to exactly one thing: his ass.

“Sure, it’s nice to meet and mingle with my colleagues every week to discuss our new business,” Anful stated when reached for comment at the Golden Corral. “But we’re really here for the waffles.”

Response to Anful’s bombshell was swift. Well, as swift as one could expect from this lumbering community of sauropods.

“Rich doesn’t speak for all of us,” fellow agent Abel Twerkins assured this reporter. “Most of us are here to actually work on behalf of our clients. Maybe his sales numbers would outpace his caloric intake if he put down the blueberry compote long enough to actually do some networking.”

Anful laughed off the criticism, insisting that his colleagues were simply protecting their golden goose.

“Look, all I’m saying is that we wouldn’t be having this conversation if these meetings were held at LA Fitness,” he assured, gesturing at his fellow agents. “Do I look like the only one here who brushes his teeth with a pork chop?”

“It’s glandular,” Twerkins responded, looking down into has own plate of smothered hash browns.

While none of the respondents polled could produce any tangible documentation that demonstrated a clear correlation between the weekly sales meetings and increased production, many assured this reporter that they had put together numerous off market deals as a direct result.

“Yes, I like the danish,” Bridget Waggles admitted, licking her fork. “I like the vendor raffles, too. More than that, though, I like to see the inventory firsthand. I also like to be the first to know about a new listing that might be coming up for one of my buyers.”

“Bridget hasn’t had a buyer in her car in three years,” Anful countered, looking out the window at a pink Mazda Miata. “Good thing, too.”

Reached for comment, National Association of Realtors spokeswoman Iris Knacks stated, “Om nom nom er gah” around a mouthful of jelly donuts supplied by a local title company.

 

Paul Slaybaugh, BSRE NEWS

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Press “0” for Functional Obsolescence

“So let me get this straight,” Samuel Rothwall said, interrupting the twenty-something year old wonderkid with the lime green mohawk. “You’re saying that young people prefer electronic mail for urgent correspondence?”

Bonzai, the assistant manager of the Verizon Wireless store, openly gawked at the old coot in front of him that fit somewhere between Steggosaurus and Woody Guthrie in the fossil record. He could practically smell the mothballs beneath the Barbasol.

“Exactly,” Bonzai replied. “Of course, if it’s really a matter of life or death, we use the pony express or carrier pigeons.”

“Oh, a wiseguy,” Samuel retorted, pointing at his younger counterpart with a shaky wooden cane. “You know, back in my day, we had a name for guys with tattoos on their necks.”

“What’s that,” Bonzai invited, smirking as he rubbed the two-dimensional spiderweb crawling out of his white polo shirt. The small garment was tent-like on his skeletal frame.

“Unemployed,” Samuel finished.

“Whatever, pops,” Bonzai rebutted. “You’re the one who came in here asking for my help, remember?”

“And my date to the junior prom wore those very earrings,” Samuel jabbed, unwilling to let the pissant claim the high ground.

“Thanks for coming in today,” Bonzai replied. “Come on back anytime you’re ready to trade in that Betamax you call a phone.”

The insufferable twit strutted back behind the counter, exchanging fist bumps with a pasty-faced teen who watched the exchange. The pair didn’t weigh two bills between them. Despite himself, Samuel was moderately impressed that either twerp was even aware there had been life before Blu-ray, let alone VHS.

“Alright, alright,” Samuel sighed, his eyes darting back and forth between the obsolete brick in his hand and the sleek new smartphones in the display case. “My granddaughter says I need one of these gizmos so I can watch her piano recitals wherever I go.”

“‘I’m sorry,” Bonzai replied, tilting his head and cupping a hand to his well-perforated ear. “What was that?”

Samuel gritted his teeth.

“I need your help,” he admitted.

“Come again?”

“I said I need your help,” Samuel repeated, louder. “Happy?”

“As a clam,” Bonzai affirmed, sauntering back around the counter with his sunken chest puffed to its fullest. “So where were we?”

“You were telling me when to text, when to email and when to call.”

“You never call,” Bonzai snickered. “You don’t buy a rocket ship to drive it to Sears. Calling requires conversation. The entire point of all this technology is to streamline communication, get your point across without sitting through twenty minutes of bullshit.”

“So if I don’t call, do I text,” Samuel asked, perplexed.

“Or Facebook or Tweet,” Bonzai agreed.

“Tweet?”

“That’s what it’s called when you say something on Twitter,” Bonzai condescended.

“What the hell is Twitter?

“Oh come on,” Bonzai moaned, exasperated. “You’re pulling my leg, right?”

Samuel just stared at the preening peacock, imagining what it would feel like to wrap his arthritic fingers around that scrawny neck and squeeeeeeeeeeze.

Bonzai sighed, shaking his ridiculous head ever so slightly.

“Twitter is a real time social medium that allows users to interact directly with people across the globe,” Bonzai recited, boredom lacing his uninflected voice.

“Like a telephone?”

“Yes, wait, no,” Bonzai answered. “A regular old phone is limited to the person you’re talking to on the other end. With Twitter, you can interact with anyone online by sending them an ‘at’ response or a direct message.”

“Like an email?”

“Yes, wait, no,” Bonzai repeated. “Look, you’re making this harder than it is–”

Samuel waved him off.

“No, you kids are the ones making things more difficult,” he chastised the human Otter Pop. “You could be curing prostate cancer with all this technology, but you’d rather use it to play Pacman on your telephones.”

“Pacman,” Bonzai exclaimed, his shrill burst of hyena-like laughter quickly degenerating into a coughing fit. “OMG, my dad loves that game!”

Samuel turned to leave.

“Hey, where ya going, pops,” Bonzai demanded, his voice strained. “I want to hear all about the phonograph!”

“We give you color television and you reinvent the telephone,” Samuel muttered to himself as he approached the glass front door.

He turned when he reached it, his fingers on the handle. Bonzai’s angular head was buried in his mobile device.

“Now I know why you don’t like talking to each other,” he announced.

Bonzai looked up, waiting.

“Because there ain’t a one of you got a damn thing to say worth hearing,” Samuel finished, wrenching open the door. “All the world’s wisdom at your finger tips, but not a lick of sense to go with it.”

The fifty four year old limped into the daylight, leaning on the cane he had relied upon since being broadsided by a texting driver the year before. The door rattled shut behind him.

“Tag me in that,” Bonzai instructed his co-worker, knowing he had surreptitiously photographed the exchange. “Going to submit it to National Geographic.”

The pair shared a brief chuckle before returning to their phones, casting the room in silence.

 

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Final Walkthrough

Final Walkthrough

“I don’t recall the Pontiac being there.”

Sid Gustafson took in the back end of the forest green automobile that jutted out of the modest mid-century ranch. He had closed the purchase on the home mere hours earlier.

The car occupied the space in the living room’s exterior wall where a large picture window had formerly resided. Remnants from the surrounding brick littered the planter box below, dusting the remains of a lantana hedge in terracotta. Glass stalactites dangled precariously from the top of the demolished window, eager to avenge their fallen brethren.

His wife, Nancy, did not respond, but her sharp intake of breath confirmed that he was not alone in his recollection. Sid scanned the license plate that clung to the rear fender by one twisted screw.

“Warp speed,” he interpreted with a dry chuckle. He turned to Nancy, but she lifted a trembling finger to stifle the welling joke.  Grudgingly, he let it pass.

“So,” he tried again after a moment of tense silence. “Do you think this is a home or auto claim?”

“Call Adam,” Nancy commanded, her icy voice scarcely more than a whisper.

“Let’s just see-” Sid began to reply before being cut short.

“Now!” Nancy hissed, rounding on him with nostrils flared and murder in the cobalt eyes that lay coiled beneath tight curls of snow white hair.

The crisp autumn air carried on it the chemical smell of burned plastic. Sid was halfway convinced that the barrel fire blazing within his significant other, rather than the smoldering wreckage behind her, was responsible for it.

He removed his cell phone from the front pocket of his jeans, flipped it open, and dialed their real estate agent without further argument.

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Sid mumbled in practiced response to the automated voice that told him to enjoy the playback music before his party was reached. His Realtor’s genial answer came midway through the well-traveled chorus of Paradise City by Guns and Roses. Unfortunately, it was just his canned message assuring Sid of the importance of his call.

“Adam, it’s Sid,” he said after the beep. “We’ve got a problem here.”

He braved a sideways glance at his wife. Somehow, she seemed to have swelled well beyond her sub five foot frame. Malice alone put her nearly eyeball to eyeball with Sid’s stooped six feet and two inches.

“Someone’s in my parking spot,” Sid finished. “Call me back.”

There was a sudden change to the ozone as everything stopped for a moment, a perfect, unnatural stillness cast over the world. Then Nancy exploded.

“Everything is funny to you, isn’t it,” she demanded. “Just one big running joke!”

“Well, guess what, mister comedian,” she continued. “I don’t think it’s funny.”

Sid retracted from the verbal battering to come, an aged hand thick as an oven glove reflexively rising to ward off the blows.

“I didn’t think it was funny when you introduced me at the first office Christmas party as your naughty secretary! I didn’t think it was funny when you told Helen’s third grade teacher that I wouldn’t let her attend the field trip to the dairy farm because I am lactose intolerant!”

“Honey,” Sid pleaded. “This is ancient hist-”

“I didn’t think it was funny,” Nancy interrupted, her face a pleated crimson mask, “when you told everyone that I was just carb loading when I was six months pregnant with Isaac!”

The beginnings of a smile tugged at the corners of Sid’s mouth, but he beat it back before it could materialize into the death sentence it was sure to be.

“I didn’t think it was funny that time you interrupted my bridge group to ask if your speedo made you look fat.”

At this, Sid did smile. He laughed, in fact. A deep, bellowing laugh, unravaged by time, that had won Nancy over so many years ago.

“I didn’t think it was funny when you asked the bishop if he was a boxers or briefs man.”

A slight smile betrayed her, however. The angry maze of wrinkles began to disband, reestablishing itself along the deeper grooves of her laugh lines.

“I really don’t think it’s funny that there’s a car sticking out of our new house.”

Now, Helen was closing her eyes and shaking her head. Staying angry at her lovable goof of a husband was like cursing the tides. He was who he was. In truth, she was mad at herself. She was the de facto iron fist, responsible for steering their ship when Sid, the drunken captain, inevitably fell asleep at the wheel. It had been an unusually hectic week. Things that she would ordinarily never miss, got missed. And here they were.

“And I really, really don’t think it’s funny that you forgot about the final walkthrough that you promised to do before we signed the closing papers.”

Sid pulled her close and held her tight. Resigned, her breath came slow and steady against his chest.

“What are we going to do,” Nancy whispered.

The phone rang.

Sid answered on the second ring, interrupting the vaguely robotic factory-programmed tone from 2006 that he had never bothered to reset.

“Hi Adam,” he responded without checking the caller ID. The only other person who ever called him at this number was standing next to him.

“About that home warranty policy the seller bought for us …”

“Does it include windows?”

 

 

 

 

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CALL ME

Leaning back in a black leather swivel chair while he pondered the day ahead, Jimmy Dietz closed his eyes against the rising glare from the room’s only window. For perhaps the millionth time, he cursed his decision to select the only bedroom in the house with eastern exposure for his home office. That had been the whole point, of course, to leverage the insistent sun as a secondary alarm clock, this one to force his weary mind to catch up to his body’s head start.

He was tempted to steal another glance at the clock, but knew it would only bring disappointment. It would be at least another five or ten minutes before the sun would rise above this petty torture and continue its ascent towards a more fitting celestial perch.

He did cautiously open his eyes, however, when a familiar buzzing cut through his silent lamentation. Grimacing against the opportunistic sunlight, he took in the sight of his shuddering iPhone as it vibrated on the desktop. He reached for it, half expecting to feel the sting of an angry electrical bee when his slender fingers closed around its cool metal housing.

“This is Jimmy,” he informed the caller.

“Hello,” he tried again when he received no answer. “This is Jimmy.”

Still no one. He removed the phone from his ear and looked at it, realizing his mistake. He was talking to a text message notification. He tapped the prompt on the screen to view.

CALL ME, the message read.

Jimmy recognized the number as belonging to an agent he had worked with on a rental transaction the previous month. It was burned into his memory by the scores of similar messages he had received in the ensuing weeks.

The phone jumped in his hand.

ITS URGENT, A new message assured him.

911, another added for good measure.

Here’s a thought, Jimmy seethed. Why don’t YOU call ME?

Resisting the urge building up within him, Jimmy instead began to slowly count to ten. Just as the throbbing in his carotid artery started to ease, his phone buzzed again.

“Seven,” he breathed in disgust as anger flooded his happy place before he had the chance to find it.

ITS STEVE WILLITS WITH DESERT DOMICILES RLTY

“You don’t say,” Jimmy hissed at the empty room.

RE 8539 E. RAVINE PKWY

Jimmy stared at the screen, incredulous as a series of messages came through in rapid succession.

TENANT SET OFF ALARM
DOESNT  RMEMBR CODE
DOG BARKING AT ALARM
POLICE HERE
WONT GO IN BC OF DOG

Jimmy began to laugh.

R U THREE?
*THERE*

Jimmy laughed even harder. For the life of him, he didn’t understand the younger generation. How could anyone in sales prefer one way communication to an actual dialogue with a real, live human? How was anyone supposed to hash out anything of consequence one line at a time?

Then again, he thought, maybe he was the idiot. Why use a perfectly good texting device to make something as antiquated as a phone call? The other party might not go along with whatever I have to say.

DOG JUST BIT A COP!!! 

Not for the first time, he wondered how much longer he was for the business.

WHY WONT YOU ANSWER???!!!!

Smiling, Jimmy relented. Out of practice with the virtual keyboard, it took three minutes for his thumbs to find the right sequence of characters. Breaking the apparent protocol, he scanned his message for grammatical errors. He swore as another message came across in the interim, interrupting him.

WELL????!!!

He pressed send.

Because this is Pizza Hut, asshole.

A response came back in seconds.

THS FUNNY 2 U?!

NoJimmy replied, quicker this time. You’re right. This is serious.

No response. Jimmy’s smile broadened as he pictured his counterpart staring intently at his phone, eagerly anticipating the forthcoming assurance that helicopters would scramble and the world would stop until this latest fiasco was resolved by anyone other than himself.

He lingered for a moment, savoring the new aroma of freshly brewed coffee that emanated from the adjoining kitchen as he gave that expectation room to grow.

Satisfied, Jimmy finally began typing.

He realized that the sun was no longer in his eyes. He relaxed his defensive squint, his hazel eyes rounding into their usual mischievous shape. He scanned his message for errors and pressed send. He then placed the phone on the desk, stood, and strode out of the room in search of caffeinated goodness.

On the desk, the phone remained momentarily illuminated, briefly displaying the sent message.

No pets allowed. Eviction proceedings started. 

The screen went dark.

Moments later, in the empty room, the phone began to ring.

 

 

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Cover Letter

Cover Letter

Dear Francis,

I showed your property at 123 E Via Linda yesterday, and my clients absolutely loved the home. As evidence, please find their attached offer. Knowing you are likely to receive additional offers on this listing, allow me to provide a little background on the buyers.

Niels and Maureen, or “Nemo,” as I call them, are being relocated from Indiana by Iradium Technologies, where they work in the product testing division. They have three glowing children between the ages of one and seven, so the property falling within the Cochise Elementary School district is a huge selling point for them. Nothing is more important to them than Joseph, Joselyn and little Jo Jo.

Niels is a veteran of both the Salvation Army and the Peace Corps. Crazy, but VA financing is not available to our soldiers of righteousness, so they are going to go FHA. Just as soon as they convince one of their parents to gift them the down payment funds. Maureen’s mother is gullible, but forgetful. Rest assured, they’ll secure those funds eventually. They don’t have any money for closing costs either, what with the medical bills for the kids, so asking the sellers to credit them the maximum allowable 6% of the purchase price. We are also asking them to leave the glassware and a few rolls of toilet paper. The pot pies in the freezer would go a long way.

Having been beaten out by “better” offers several times already, my clients will do whatever it takes to win the day. In fact, they have authorized me to offer the sellers full use of the guest shower for up to a year after closing, provided they contribute to the water bill and be mindful of the peak hours for the load controller we are asking the sellers to install prior to the close of escrow.

Lacking the funds for an earnest deposit, they are willing to offer the indentured servitude of any two of their three children en lieu of cash consideration. Joseph is the biggest and strongest, but he requires the most food and sleep. He seems to have hit a growth spurt. He eats nearly every other day, and often has to be roused after three hours of sleep to make it to his day job on time. Joselyn may not look like much, but she’s steady. She’ll work from sunup to sundown without a break. Don’t be fooled by little Jo Jo, either. He may not be the most mobile of the three, but he will clean the hell out of whatever spot you plop him on. As long as you are willing to move him every couple of hours, he’ll knock out a room better than any service you’ve ever hired! They all tend to bleed profusely from their ears and noses. Just an fyi.

As you can see, this is the house for my clients. While you may receive higher offers from more qualified buyers, they are all terrible people who will defecate upon the sellers’ memories of this very special home. My clients will only defecate in the bathrooms. Well, not the one they have reserved for your clients’ use. That would be rude.

We humbly ask that you choose us. Pre-possession works, right? Niels is a bit of a snorer, but he’s a wiz with little fixes around the house. The moving van is scheduled for tomorrow. We’ll need help paying for it.

Respectfully,

Will U. Hepme, REALTOR

 

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