The House That Wouldn't Sell

No one ever warned me how one failure could blot out the countless triumphs that follow it. How many years has it been, you ask? Too many. I decided a long time ago it was easier to take it one day at a time- rather than dwelling on what year it was.Day four of my latest angle-- selling The House. Each 'angle' lasts a few weeks. It's my 73rd such angle. I didn't exactly have the best learning curve. Sure I took this job as an inexperienced realtor wanting to try my energetic hand at the glamorous market of real estate and sure I had grand ambitions many of which have come to fruition; honestly though, I don't know who that man is anymore. I don't recognize him really. He went somewhere after the first encounter with "The Family in the Cellar" {as they later came to be known}. On that day and everyday since I have survived with a growing grit and resolve to stay the course and sell this Golgotha once and for all.

Now let me just make it clear that I consider myself a very talented salesman who has sold MANY houses. But there is this one accursed place I have not sold. No matter how many houses I sell- that one keeps laughing at me. Eventually my firm even gave it away to rival companies to sell but no one could do it. I convinced my higher powers to get it back because I was sick of the seeming taunts it hurled at me whenever I passed by it on the way to work. The firm even tried to level it for something nicer- more attractive- but for reasons I cannot fathom it has been passionately landmarked by the active community here who seem to fancy it's aged asthetic.

Knowing what is in there... I'd just as soon have it bulldozed to the ground.

I remember the first time I showed the place-it was going to be my first sale as a broker. I set an appointment with a beautiful woman in her early to mid twenties for 10:30 in the morning so she could see the flooding sunlight. She came around 10:37. I was so wet behind the ears so to speak that I was actually worried she wouldn't show. It was the longest 7 minutes of my life until I heard the engine of her station wagon roll up to the metal gates and in a flash of rookie realtor excitement I bounded down the Porch Steps to meet her.

It wasn't long after we entered that the floor boards sounded a charming welcome to my client. Elaine was her name. She had expressed earlier her love for old houses. She had an appreciation for a good hearth, a taste for petrifaction itself it seemed. It seemed. She seemed a perfect fit for this house. Perfect. She had a journal in which she was writing observations or questions about the place. I remember I complimented her on the intricately stitched leather cover and she told me it was in the possession of the women in her family stretching back to her great great great grand mother. She said she would die if she lost it. Well... Maybe you know where this story is going. Maybe you don't. Her words were cut off by a dog outside barking. "Horace!" She realized. Indeed Horace was a great black dog. A beast who had capitalized on Elaine's open window in the car as soon as he had spotted one of the two little disturbers {as I would later call them} outside. Two small black Chihuahuas impossible to tell apart but for one who had different colored eyes: one white, one black. I have seen them many times, scampering through their patrols of the house and the property. I have chased them and kicked them and screamed at them and tried to catch them but I never found where they eat or sleep and they always return fire with their obnoxious yapping language.

I hate them passionately. Every time I have come back here with more extreme measures to supplant them (be it a dog catcher, a bloodhound, or a rifle) they are no where to be seen or heard.

Now, years before all of this- Horace had them cornered. He was growling ominously and the two small dogs were frantically scratching on the walls. "Do something!" I heard Elaine yell as she pulled my arm, not too hard and not gently. Had I known what I was in for many years from now I swear to God I would have told Horace to sick'em. Now. Before they could turn around. That would've been perfect.


Too late though. Horace was not growling anymore. He was whining. The little bastard withthe white and black eyes had turned around and was looking straight into Horace's eyes. And Horace was suddenly slinking away back into the car. Elaine had a realization which only she could have found shocking: "My Journal-- It's in the house!"

"I'll get it.", I said. And with that- I ran to the parlor where Elaine last was when we first heard the commotion. It wasn't there. Thinking I was incorrect I searched all of the adjoining rooms. Nothing- except in the corner of my eye- I spied the cellar door opened a crack. I gingerly stepped to close it but I heard the faintest sound coming from below. It sounded like a woman scolding a child. But almost as soon as I heard it- the sound was gone. As I closed the door and turned- there was the Journal resting on the kitchen counter, waiting for me. Relieved, I snatched up the book.

Things went south from there.

Yes, I returned the Journal to Elaine and she thanked me. But later that evening she called, babbling uncontrollably about all her writing that day being gone, vanished from the page. I thought it too strange to believe though so despite a valiant attempt at politeness, she could see I was placating her. It didn't end well between us.

The next several prospective buyers feigned interest or simply had none. The place was getting a creepy reputation. Some said the temperature was always one degree lower once you stepped on the property or that there was a strange light in the attic. It earned the dubious name of "The Albatross". Children spun their annoying stories about it. My favorite was the one involving a warlock who lived there by night and by day took the form of that screeching starling flock that moved around above the property. Clever story {And here I thought those birds were here simply because they just wanted all our wild black berries}.

One day a drifter approached me and asked if he could squat there a month. The place was so forgotten, the neighborhood boys were no longer vandalizing it at this point. Hot off my recent promotion, I said yes. The next morning, after enduring a sleepless night I drove by on my way to the office. I knocked on the front door and when it flew open I barely recognized the drifter from the day before. His hair was even messier and his eyes were red and wide. He said I never told him "There was a whole fucking family in the cellar." "What are you talking about?" "The Family down there! They are horrible and they are fuckin loud. The mom is screaming at her kids, the kids keep yellin' to open some door when ever they come and go and On top of all that-they got fuckin chihuahuas yappin'. I kept knocking on the door but they got it bolted from the inside! I kept tryin' ta' sleep-- I finally just passed out then you knocked man. What? What is it?" "You heard a woman screaming at..." "Yeah man at her kid or... Some kid." Containing my budding consternation as best I could, I asked him to please let me in to see the cellar door. It was closed tight. It had never been closed like that before. I'd been down there many times when chasing the disturbers. I know no other way to describe the feeling but it was as though I could feel my destiny beyond that cellar door. In a flash, I was out of the house, rummaging frantically through my trunk for a brutal makeshift key to all but rip that door from its hinges. In seconds I was flying back to the Cellar door with a tire-iron. One whack at the old wood gave me just the gauge for the second whack and that one struck true. The old door flew open. The smell of dust and rot rushed up to me so thick it felt almost like another door itself. Light followed in immediately, alerting me to the first few steps of the old stairwell. As I moved for the first step. The drifter informed me that he wasn't coming. "Fine", I said- you can wait up there all alone, and wonder what is happening." He was smarter than I took him for and just like that I was alone with my tire-iron.

They never tell you why a person in this situation keeps going. In the movies we scream at their stupidity, "Don't go down there!" I will tell you why I continued. Reason 1) I was still close to the door, what's a few more steps? Reason 2) As sensible a thing as it would've been to leave- I was so angry at this house for beating me over and over again that I don't think anything could've scared me. Reason 3) there is something about being a grown ambitious man that well- just being afraid of the dark feels womanish or childish.

I will say now that Women and Children are smarter.

Once out of the sunlight, I lit a match. And then another. There was no family living here. Not a chance. Then came a scampering, followed by a high pitched growling. I slowly turned around ready to kick the little beast in the face, hopefully ending its life but as my foot steadied to kick, my skull was rattled with a heightened scream.The Banshee leapt onto me out of the shadows, her legs around my waist and her arms around my neck, sending me sideways. We crashed into the stone wall and I was suddenly without my weapon. The beasts were yappin' and the banshee a'screamin'. And the only thing on my mind was, "All this because I think I can sell a damned house".

That was the last thought I had before waking up a little while later at the bottom of those stairs. No sign of the intruder, or the disturbers. When I got back up to the main house, the drifter was long gone. There was one thing left to do. I grabbed some dead leaves and kindling and set them ablaze. I wanted this house dead. I hated her more than anything. The lean to caught fire quick and just as the flames broadened their licks... a drop of water tapped the very tip of my nose as though heaven itself were reprimanding me. The thunder rumbled, the lightening struck near by, the sky yawned open above the house, a rain poured down, all stopping my liberation.

Defeated, I went back into the old house for shelter and began to weep. The house seemed to cry with me. As my tears streamed on, so too did the rain increase. It was a good cry. I was an exhausted old man now. Tired. The old couch in the living room seemed to glow with consolation. As I lay my head on the soft cushioned arm I noticed the oaken ceiling. "Just beautiful, my dear". I remember saying, before passing out.

I awoke again. It was dark. The rain was just a gentle tapping now. I had slept through the day. But that was the least of my worries. I was now looking at the flame of a single candle standing in the center of the nearby coffee table. In a moment I wasat the ready. It was either the Banshee or the Drifter. But... I heard music. I recognized it too. Ravel. Daphnis Et Chloe. And a staggering version. I was ensnared. Continuing to the dining room which was touched with more light, I saw now three such candles held fast in their candelabrum to leisurely drip wax along it's pewter.

I sat myself down at the head of the dining table and placed both hands on the chestnut finish. I could feel the film of dust and oddly took a liking to it.  With a motion of my hand, I wiped the space in the middle and saw a blurred version of myself, not fully formed but it was there. As though it were awaiting a shell in which to grow. The outer room yielded the dreadful sound of footsteps and I stood up quickly. Two dark haired children entered. The younger one, the girl had a brown eye and a hazel eye, thats why her mother and I named her...Hazel. The boy, Clifton, already looked like a young man. I remembered when he was born and I smiled. Then I heard a humming accompanying the music and a beautiful woman in her forties came in. Her skin was pearl. Her shoulders, perfect and freckled. Elaine. I inclined the side of my face to her as she kissed my cheek. Home. The house. It was speaking to me. All this time.


So here is my 73rd Angle: The house will never sell. It seems to be protected by forces unknown to me. So how about I move in? I realize what she is. She is a pure home. She will not break. She will not burn. She will protect her tenant from the elements, the housing markets, and bubbles-all of it. She is perfect. I am drawing up improvement plans to bring to the city council now. She has been protected all these many many years... from me. Now maybe- just maybe- I can safe guard her soul.