Brrng, brrrng, brrrng.
I cleared my throat, clasped the phone and picked it up. I answered, “Smith Realty and Housing. My name is Isacc. Let’s find a dream together.”
"Hi, Isacc, this is Robert James?"
"Oh, yes. How are you, Mister James?"
"I’m good, Isacc, I’m real good."
A pause passes, and I clear my throat again. Best to get on with it.
"Well Mister James, I suppose you’re calling in regards to our prospects?"
There’s a small laugh, and the voice says, “Well Isacc, I can’t think of another reason I’d call you, fella.”
It’s “fellow”, not “fella”, you uncultured hooger.
I cradle the phone on my shoulder, and grip the topmost file on my desk. I open it, letting out a long sigh.
"Well Mister James," I say, "you know selling a house with-let’s say, peculiar qualities?-is difficult. Selling a house in this market, at all, is difficult. Period.”
"Isacc, please. I know all that. Spare me, okay? Do we have someone or not?"
Great, now he’s getting anxious with you.
I flip through the papers, the police reports and printed online postings. Almost five minutes passes before I answer him.
"No, Mister James," I say, biting my lip, "I don’t have a buyer for your house. I’m sorry, I-"
"God DAMN it, Isacc!" he screams, "You PROMISED me. You fucking promised me you’d have one by the end of this week! What the hell is keeping you?"
I exhale, and say, “Now Mister James, just calm down for a moment, let me-“
"Don’t tell me to calm down, Isacc! Do you realize what you’re putting us through? Do you realize what you’re doing to my family?"
I throw the papers down on my desk, rising and kicking my chair back. I curl my free hand into a fist, placing it on the desk, gritting my teeth as I answer.
"Mister James, do you realize what you’re going to do to whomever buys that house? What you are going to put them through? Do you?”
There’s a silence on the line, static crackling in the back ground. Mister James sighs, and says, “I know that, I just…I can’t take it anymore. We want out. We can’t afford a hotel room for a few months, and we’ve no one here to stay with, and…yeah. I’m just fed up. And angry. Angry at you-“
"-and this house, and-"
"I know, I know," I say, patting the air. "I get it, Mister James. But again, let me remind you that I did nothing except my job. Which is what I’m attempting to do for you right now. It’s not my fault the house…reacted to you so.”
In the background, something slams, making that static roar for a moment. I hear mister James gasp, his clothes rustling against the phone. I hear him walk into a different room, and hear the fear in his voice as he whispers, “I don’t know what we did, I don’t know what we did but I’m sorry."
Great, now I’ve got to play councilor.
"I know, Mister James. I know. And I’m doing all I can to aid you, really I am. But even given the problem, you realize we’re in need of certain circumstances? I mean, it’s not like we can sell it to anyone in the area. Not with it’s reputation."
On the other end of the line, a distant wailing moan begins, dying abruptly. Pounding, like footsteps, goes on, fading away as it goes farther and farther from the line. All the while, Mister James just stammers, teeth chattering.
"Now, Mister James, I’d like you to give me another week. Just one more. Can you do that for me, Mister James?"
"Another week?" he says in a frantic whisper. "Another fucking week, Isacc? We won’t fucking be here, Isacc! We’ll-"
"Mister James, let me remind you that all these conversations are recorded. Many of which are used in our advertisements. Any implications of abandoning the property will result in full legal pursuit of the balance. And Mister James, we here at Smith Realty are very good friends of the local loan offices and banks. Very, very good friends indeed. Do I make myself clear?”
There’s a scream, high and desperate erupting from the receiver. I pause, hoping it’s the end of the call, but no. Mister James starts to cry, his pride holding it hidden as long as it can. He sniffles, he sobs, and says, “You…you bastard. You piece of fucking shit. You’re going to kill us, you're going to kill us all.”
I roll my eyes. “Mister James, you know I’m not responsible for this. You bought the house. You woke it up. This is all on you. Every last moment. Now, Mister James, is that all? Are we done?”
The static on the line becomes unbearable. Faintly, I hear a voice on the other end, but it drowns in the crackling dirge. Then the line goes dead.
I pull my chair back, reclining as I drum my fingers atop the James house file.
I’d call the authorities soon, see if there was any cleanup necessary. I had lied to Mister James-I’d had several offers on the house. But there was the pesky matter of its non-ethereal occupants. Try as they might, they simply didn’t want to leave. They felt entitled to a profit, some sort of compensation for their troubles.
Ignorant fucks. This wasn’t a horror movie. This was business.
I smiled, picking up the phone as I looked through the file, eying the offers. I almost dialed the police, but dialed a David Townsend’s number instead. I said hello, and told him about the great deal I’d found on the property he was looking at.
He was so happy, he wanted to move in that day. Or as soon as possible. We agreed to wait a week.
A week, long enough for the bodies to be moved, the blood to be cleaned, and the spirits to rest. A week, more than enough time to put up new paint, a few plants. Long enough to make it look like a completely different house.
I’d had several weeks, just like this. And judging by the length of my list, I was going to have several more.