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Wednesday, May. 04, 2005
When you choose to sell your house, and are unspeakably lazy charitable enough to hire the broker who occasions the Watering Hole, be advised that you get what you pay for.

Broker Bob, as I’ll call him (since that is in fact the only publishable name he is generally known by), has a no necktie and rayon slacks approach to life. He is in fact a broker, as opposed to the more gushing real estate agent sort. More in it for the cash you might say. There are whispers of slum-lordism and feudal land entanglements from time to time. But Broker Bob seems to get it done, and getting it done is what I’m all about in the case of selling the big cave, after all.

One of the charms involved is receiving inquiries about showing the house. When last I was involved in a house swappin’, a realtor would call my realtor, who would call me and ask if tomorrow at 4 would be convenient. Giving us the time to plot a polite exit of course, and I’d give my realtor the nod and she’d call the other party and so on. All very proper, everyone had a finger in the pie.

Broker Bob casually announced he’d “Just go ahead and put down your phone number for a contact in the house ad, Outfoxed my boy” at the tail end of our 3 minute discussion on how to sell our house. And either I wasn’t listening or just didn’t stop to consider what that meant.

So for the past couple weeks, my cell will ring at least two times a day with some realtor on the other end. “We’re in the neighborhood, is your house still available? Can we see it? Can we, huh?”

My by now polished reply goes like this. “Yup, help yourselves. There’s a dog in the house but he’s very old. He’ll bark until you get in then he’ll likely go back to sleep. It’s a habit of his.” The realtor’s will then thank me for the tip-off and go on their merry way.

After two weeks of this, and having received no offers on the house (and remember, this is a house in a hot area of a very hot market where saleable houses don‘t last long at all), Ally and I decided the price was probably too high. So I gave Broker Bob the command to cut it some. No need to be greedy. The sell price could go down by a helluva lot and still be more than I ever dreamed of getting for the place.

True to form, the cell rang yesterday and gave birth to the following:

Brrriiinnnng!

“Mr. Outfoxed? This is Mr. Washington from Random Realty. Is your house still available? And may I show it please?”

“Sure. There’s a dog in the house, he’s old, he barks, he‘ll be fine. Y’all go ahead.”

“Oh thank you, thank you Mr. Outfoxed. Have a wonderful day.” Click.

I have no idea why they are always so charmingly grateful for the chance to waltz through my house, and so polite. But then, I’m working with Broker Bob here. Broker Bob’s charm ends when he rolls out of bed in the morning.

Fast forward 30 minutes.

Brrriiinnnng!

“Mr. Outfoxed? This is Mr. Washington again, Random Realty. We‘re at yo’ house and I hear’s a dog barking inside!”

I noted that some of the politeness had slid from his delivery. Also, the urbane inflection was moving pointedly more toward the urban. And a Labrador could be plainly heard in the background at full bay.

“Like I said, he’s old, he barks. Open the door and go on in. He stops barking the minute you get inside, honest.”

“Oh. Heh heh. Mmmmm. Okay, we’ll takes a chance, I guess.”

“Righto.” I clicked off, marveling, and went back to work. Which at the time was unloading a truck full of someone else’s furniture along with Stu and Chief Mo. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Approximately 30 seconds went by.

Brrriiinnnng!

“Meesta ‘Foxed! Meesta ’Foxed! Did you know there‘s a dog inside yo’ house?! And he be loose and running around”

I could hear some very excited background chatter from what I assumed were his clients and the thunder of the Lab, now fully awake and pissed. I could almost picture the scene, a group of people on my front stoop peering in at a geriatric and hips-a-trembling dog who has only one volume for a welcome bark.

“Listen, I told you. There’s a dog in there. He barks. He isn’t running around because he can’t run at all, trust me. Go in or not, makes no difference. But he won’t stop barking until you do. ‘Bye now.”

“Oh but Meesta ‘Foxed . . .”. And I hung up before his wailing got any more out of control.

Chief Mo happened to be listening nearby as I put the phone away and was laughing before I could even tell the tale. “Guess that’s one sale you don’t have to worry about, eh? Bwahahaha!”

“Heh. Reckon not. Lordy, I don’t know how much more clear I can make it to these bums. ‘Dog in house. Dog barks.’ And then they get there and have to make a call telling me there’s a dog running loose in there, like it’s the first time they’ve ever seen such a thing.”

As incidents go, it would have been completely forgettable if Mo hadn’t spent the rest of the day telling it to every Christian soul within range, complete with falsetto renderings of “Meesta ‘Foooxxed!” and authentic barking sounds. My kinsmen are merciless with a fresh tale, they are.

I got all the way to the end of my little day, and was relating all this to Ally as we chomped on a dinner and shooed away the Lab, who watched every forkful with a practiced eye. Ally laughed and scolded the Lab, saying “Ooooh, those bad old people wanted to get into my house, didn’t they boy. Ooooh, and I barked and barked. Woof! I barked, didn’t I?”

Brrriiinnnng!

“Outfoxed? Broker Bob here. Say, we got an offer, whaddya know, got it off my answering machine just now. And they’re 5 grand over the new asking price ‘cause they can‘t close until school gets out! Wanna bite on it?”

“Damn. Yeah, sure Bob. See what happens, you know?”

“Okay, I gotta run the credit check and all that but I’ll call ya tomorrow. Later.”

Broker Bob has notorious cell phone habits, so it didn’t surprise me much to learn that he got an offer from his answering machine. The man simply refuses to answer any calls from a number he doesn’t recognize. Peculiar for someone in the real estate business, but then we’re talking about Broker Bob here, of the Watering Hole Bob’s, where cell phones are used exclusively for the calling of other inebriants to check on their state of karma or what-have-you.

I filled Ally in. “Cool,” she said. “I wonder who the buyer is? Must be that couple that was here on Sunday, remember them? With the cute little girl who liked the Lab and was out back playing for a while? They seemed like nice people.”

“Yeah, could be. Broker Bob didn’t go into any detail, imagine that.”

Brrriiinnnng!

“Meesta ‘Foxed? Meesta Washington! ‘Member me from earlier today? Tryin’ to get ‘hold of that broker of yours, he won’t answer his phone! We put in an offah and done kno’ if he got the message o’ what?”

There are moments of crystalline clarity in life, and I took a long look at the Lab sitting at my feet, eyeballing my plate of chicken stir-fry from his prone position on the floor.

“Why yes, I do believe he did. As a matter of fact he telephoned me not 5 minutes ago. So I can affirm that your offer is on the table, Mr. Washington.” (All kidding aside, I can be very much the formal man on the telephone when the need arises.)

“Oh thankee, thankee Meesta ‘Foxed! We be seein’ yooouu . . .!

Ally chirped, “That the buyer? Can’t get ahold of Broker Bob, huh?”

“Yep. But that ain’t the problem, way I see it.”

“Oh?”

“Problem is I gotta find out how to pay a sales commission to a Labrador. Seein’ as he was the only one around to show the house and all. Damn, Broker Bob is gonna have to be real understanding about this one, if you know what I mean.”

She didn’t, as it turned out.


The furniture moving mentioned earlier was yet another day of charitable affairs for the Outfoxed Crew, moving yet another in a seemingly endless stream of unfortunate bartenders from one apartment to the next. I don’t know how we got into that particular business, but we’ve done it a dozen times over the years, using our box truck and muscle and the muscle of other volunteers to tote around the stuff of comely wenches. It’s amazing what you can get us to do for a case of beer.

Or not, come to think of it. Thanks for reading.

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