The light bulb vibrated in its IKEA bedside lamp, causing an almost ignorable hum. The southwestern patterned drapes over the blackout shades were drawn tightly shut. The gold flipover deadbolt on the door was closed securely against possible intrusion. A ‘Privacy Please’ door sign hung on the doorknob outside the room.
The desk chair was pulled out into the middle of the room, facing away from the door. He was seated in the chair, shivering, ankles lashed to the front legs of the chair with plastic zip ties. She’d found those in his garage near a pile of open house signs. He’d apparently been using them to attach the metal signs to the frames. Handy little suckers, those zip ties. Handy, and strong. She’d used one to tie his hands back behind the chair, as well.
She stood several feet in front of him, with one hand rubbing her pregnant belly and took in her handiwork. He wasn’t going anywhere soon; she’d done a good job.
“Do you know why you’re here?” she asked, engaging the man for the first time since she’d ordered him into her car and up the stairs to the hotel room with what looked like a gun in her pocket.
“I … I don’t even know who you are,” he stuttered, close to tears. His teeth chattered from the cranked up AC and his soft middle-aged paunch jiggled. He wore a sweater of chest and back hair, silk boxer shorts decorated with dollar signs and nothing else. He only barely resembled the business card photo of him in a lime green polo shirt with a cocky smirk pasted on his face she had in her purse by which to identify him.
“I bet you don’t know who I am. I bet you never gave me a second thought. That’s why you’re here. I want you to remember my face when you confess what you’ve done. I’m… the buyer,” she spat at him.
He gasped and understanding crept into his eyes, “The buyer of my house? That buyer?”
She ignored him and turned to her bag on the bed. She opened the large black purse and rifled through it, finally pulling out a fabric roll tied in the center. He watched nervously as she untied it, unrolled a collection of stainless steel tools and laid them on the bed. It looked like she’d wandered around her suburban home and picked up anything she could find that was small and sharp. There were cuticle clippers, an Exacto knife and a Leatherman tool among other instruments. She even had a set of hair clippers. He shivered again, wondering what exactly she had in mind.
Her hand hovered over the collection as she weighed her options. Finally she plucked a pair of razor sharp tweezers from the bunch. She turned to the terrified man in the chair and swaggered over to him, one hand wielding the tweezers and the other resting on her belly. She knelt, with moderate effort, on his left-side next to his head.
“You have something, right here, that’s been bothering me,” she purred into his ear, aimed the tweezers and yanked a centimeter-long grey hair that had been protruding from his ear.
He screamed in agony.
“Ow! That hurt! What are you doing?! What do you want from me??” the agent yelled.
She giggled with glee and moved around to look him directly in the eyes. She reached up to his between his eyes and found an errant hair right in the center. She closed the tweezers around it and yanked as hard as she could.
“Please, no more!” he bellowed, “I can’t take the pain!”
“Oh, the pain. You poor dear,” she smirked condescendingly. “You don’t even know pain yet. But you will …”
“No! Stop! I’ll do whatever you want,” he begged.
She paused and considered. She glanced at her tools forlornly and then back at him, a gleam of excitement in her eyes, “Hmm, so you’re ready to give me what I want already? A little extra AC, some tweezing and you’re putty in my hands, eh? You Arizona Realtors sure are soft, aren’t you?”
She stood with help from the bed, shook her short, dark hair and smoothed her dress calmly, too calmly. He could see the storm coming.
“Here’s what I want, it’s really very easy, I want you to confess your sins!” She leaned down into his face and shrieked the last three words. Her lips curled back and he could see her white, even teeth. He could feel her hot breath on his face. She’d eaten a carne asada burrito recently. He’d never been so scared in his life.
“My sins? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh you don’t? Huh,” she said, picking up a pair of cuticle scissors from the bed, “I think one of your earlobes is just a wee bit longer than the other. We should fix that …”
“No! No, please! You mean the scummy crap I did on your deal? The one where I was both the owner and the agent? You want me to confess all of the things I did?”
“Now you get it. Yes, I want to hear you say what you did and that it was wrong. I need to hear you say it!” She was coming unraveled, he could see it. The cool facade was gone and she was ready to snap. There would probably be blood soon. Or at least some seriously painful grooming.
“OK. OK. I … I abandoned the house. Four months after you signed the short sale contract and saw the house in pristine condition, I moved my family out and totally stopped maintaining the pool. Even though I had an agreement with HAFA that I would continue to live in and maintain the house and I knew you were getting an FHA loan, which would require the pool to be in working condition. I knew it would be a problem and I did it anyway and didn’t tell you. It was wrong.”
“That’s a start,” she said, trimming her cuticles absent-mindedly with her instrument of torture, “what else?”
He took a deep breath, wondering how much she herself knew. How much had they uncovered in the inspection report? How much had her agent told her about his misdeeds?
“Um… well I also took the stove and the dishwasher out and sold them. After we moved out. Not only was that a violation of my HAFA short sale agreement and a huge problem for your FHA loan, but it was in direct violation of the contract that we signed. You saw the house when we were there and it had nice appliances in it. The contract states that they are fixtures and remain with the property. But I wanted to make an extra few bucks. So I sold them.”
“You are such an ASS-HAT!” she screamed and grabbed the tweezers again. She furiously plucked individual hairs from all over his chest. The ones near his nipples hurt the worst. He began crying like a baby.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It was wrong and unethical and I’m sorry. I also knew about the leak under the master shower down into the dining room and I didn’t even try to find out what the problem was or get it fixed. In fact, we just put a bucket downstairs and continued using it for awhile. I should have disclosed that. I’m so sorry,” he blubbered.
She halted her tweezing madness and stood back.
“And you let us waste FIVE MONTHS of our lives hoping for this house to become an approved short sale. When it finally did you let us waste hundreds of dollars on inspections and appraisals just to find out that you’d screwed us out of any possibility it could actually work. You’re an agent. You should know better. What were you even thinking?”
“Well,” he sniffled, “I thought if you wanted the house enough you’d put your own money into fixing those things and buying new appliances before close of escrow. I’ve heard of that happening.”
“Oh my god, I hate you,” she seethed and reached back into her bag. She pulled out a home waxing kit and said, “You’ve confessed. Now you’ll receive your penance.”
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
Amanda opened her eyes and smacked a hand on top of her alarm clock. She brushed her short, dark hair out of her eyes and reached down to give her pregnant tummy a little rub. She was still glowing from the exhilaration of the dream. She would probably never get her revenge; but hey, a girl can dream, right?