The deal of a lifetime
Leskiy and Roman Scott
At a young age, Barry showed a natural ability for mechanical engineering. He began working under his parent’s supervision at fifteen. Now he was thirty-five and looking for a home. He was a compulsive saver. He was pleased when he met with a seller’s agent who told him he had the deal of a lifetime. Barry was excited but skeptical. The deal of a lifetime sounded like hyperbole.
Barry took a day off at work and went with the agent. The house was not only new and beautiful, but it was in a great neighborhood. A Trader Joes and Wal-Mart within walking distance. Good schools, no crime. Barry was giddy when he heard the price the house was going for.
“The bank is willing to let it go for one hundred and fifty thousand,” the agent said to Barry.
“Can you come again please?” Barry said he couldn’t believe his ears.
“It’s going for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars and you will pay five percent agent fees,” the agent said again.
“Every house in this area is two hundred and twenty thousand, what’s the catch? Structural damage? Black mold? Termites?” Barry said.
“No, the house is just as lovely on the inside as the outside, everything is one hundred percent new. The only thing is that there was a death in the home.”
“A murder?” Barry asked
“No, an act of God. The woman who owned this house spontaneously combusted in her lazy boy, all that was left was her left foot. The chair was hardly burnt.”
Barry smiled. “Are you fucking with me?”
“I’m afraid not Mr Graham, it’s a matter of public record.”
“I feel like you kinda pissed in my corn flakes.” Barry said.
“Listen, let’s take a look inside. This property is exceptional,” the agent said
They went into the house and it was all the agent promised. Hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, and an expensive modern kitchen, a huge yard, and a two-car garage. The property was well kept and all the guts of the home were new. Water heater, HVAC, it even had a whole house fan. He would be stupid to pass this by.
“Let’s sign some paperwork, the house is everything you promised and more,” said Barry. “I just would want my guy to do an inspection.”
“That is your prerogative, but he won’t find anything.” The agent said.
The inspector couldn’t find fault with the house. Barry closed in fifteen days. He didn’t need to but he took out a loan on the place, then refinanced. The house appraised for two hundred twenty thousand, seventy thousand in his pocket. He had done his research.
The neighborhood and the structure of the house deceived Barry into buying a home he didn’t understand. He would come to regret that. The house was his now.
As he was to moving in, he stood outside waiting for the moving truck. From nowhere, he heard a voice.
“I suppose you bought this house in the hopes of starting a new life.”
Barry turned, there was a thin man, old gaunt, with a cane. He was wearing a coat despite being seventy-five degrees. He was black.
“I suppose that’s the idea, yes.” Barry said.
“This house may very well end your life.” The old man said
“Excuse me?” Barry said.
“The previous owners died under strange circumstances,” the old man continued.
“The woman who used to own the place spontaneously combusted in her living room. Her whole body burned except her foot, which was perfectly preserved. I heard that.” Barry said.
“She was only the last. I never met her, she was very private. She didn’t want to talk to me. The Man before that, George Armstrong died from hanging, in the tree in the backyard. The police ruled it a suicide but he hung a full six feet in mid-air. The rope was tied off on another branch. I only know because I found him. George was kind and gentle, he’d give you the shirt off his back. Some people surprise you but George wasn’t suicidal. After George died I looked into it, these two deaths are the tip of the iceberg.”
Barry was horrified.
“What’s your name, Sir?” Barry asked. Barry offered his hand.
“Johnnie Straight.” The old man shook it. “I’m your neighbor. You can count on me for anything, just don’t ask me to go into your house.”
Both laughed. There was something deeply wrong with Barry’s new house. Or George Armstrong didn’t exist. But Barry got the distinct sense that the whole project had gone sideways against him.