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 Tales of Dante Steele – Part I: The Realtor

Serial StoryBy Dante Steele

It was about a year ago, when I first walked into a real estate office and told the cute little agent, behind the desk, that I was looking for a small house in the area. I didn't realize, just how cute she was, until she spoke.

"Well goooood morning! I'm Penelope Spencer! I'll be more than happy to set you up an appointment immediately. And you are?"

"Dante Steele…and a very good morning to you young lady." I could feel a slight grin come over my face but not being able to control it, I gave her a big smile.

Well, she was so busy assuring me that she had the "perfect" place and that it had just come on the market this morning, that I didn't realize at the time that she made no phone calls, grabbed no papers, or nothing...

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"What luck you must have Mr. Steele!" she wiggled with excitement. "I am absolutely certain you are just going to love it!"

"I noticed your accent, I take it you are not from around these parts. Well, believe it or not, I'm a transplant too! Are you looking for a vacation home or a permanent residence?"

As she spoke, she was herding me towards her car, but I saw her checking out my 1972 Little Red Corvette Convertible. She did not comment, .. but her smile did widen just a little.

As we drove out of town and into what you might call "a rural area", Penelope, was just bubbling with enthusiasm. She was sure she had the right little house for me and that all would just be perfect.

But when I first laid eyes upon the old farmhouse, I was thinking, "Is this the place that's perfect for me, or what?"

I happened to notice that the 'For Sale' sign was overgrown with weeds, and looked rather rusty. It was sportin' numerous BB-gun dents and it sure didn't look much like it was put out this morning, but I just figured they must re-use 'em, after all they did manage to get the signs out rather quickly.

The house was set back from the road about 300 ft and as we turned into the unpaved driveway we left a trail of dust behind us.

Penelope all but leapt out of the car and with the biggest smile said, "This is it! Your dream home." I thought to myself "Good Lord Dante, what have you gotten yourself into?"

Once inside the house, I saw that it had four bedrooms, and knew that it would be 'just perfect' for me since I am alone, single, not in a relationship, and not planning on starting a family at this point in my life. Perhaps Penelope thought I had imaginary friends that only come out to visit me in large farmhouses. Yep, it makes perfect sense, then they could occupy the other three bedrooms.

The two and a half baths were also a splendid idea, just in case I need to use the facilities, while the other two are occupied. Or maybe owning a farmhouse attracts friends, I am new to the area, and so I'm not sure about this. Anyway, cleaning multiple bathrooms is a chore that I'm just sure I'll love to spend at least a day a week on, besides, Penelope insists that "no one has just one bathroom these days, and even two is considered minimalist."

The living and dining rooms were especially nice, both had fireplaces that I could use during the long cold winter months here in Louisiana. I'm sure as I acclimate to this region, it will feel pretty chilly when the temperature drops to 70 at night..

"Just think how 'hot' your parties are gonna be," Penelope tells me with her eyes wide open and smile that could charm a catbird right out of a tree, "besides, 'everyone' has a fireplace and you'll have two!"

Walking into the kitchen, I saw that it boasted a built in double-oven and a stove-top that included a griddle. "Well, would you look at that," I caught myself saying aloud, "it even has a walk-in refrigerator/freezer."

Unbelievably, Penelope’s smile got even wider. "Perfect, indeed!" I thought, "If ever I have to bake a cake or create a large feast for huge numbers of people, I'll be all set." Though there was the lingering thought in the back of my mind, that most of my groceries go directly from the shopping bag into the microwave - but the kitchen is a marvel, perhaps it would motivate me to become a chef.

"Surely this magnificent kitchen will become a 'can't live without it' kinda thing in no time," said the agent, confirming my fantasy.

Perhaps it is a little large for one, single, individual, but never mind, my real estate agent keeps telling me how 'perfect' it is for me. She must be right I think, she's the professional and says she's been matching people with the 'perfect house' for many years now. For some reason I didn't wonder at this statement, given her apparent youth, because she smiled again and winked, while assuring me that I would be able to leave all the details in her well-manicured hands.

I only had to say that one little word, "Yes," and, of course, sign my name on the dotted line, and she was sure I could do that. "Besides," she said, "the place is an absolute steal at this price, you'll probably never get another get a chance at a deal like this!"

"Shall we take a trip into the basement?" she asks. Looking at the stairs, it appears that it will definitely be a 'trip'.

"No thank you, Penelope," I respond, and not wanting to crush her enthusiasm, added, "I really won't have much use for it, other than to throw a few boxes of nothing down there."

"But, Dante you should see it!" she tells me, "It has a beautiful wine cellar and a pool table!" Not used to being called by my first name by those so much younger than myself, I was momentarily surprised, but she was excited, so I felt I could do nothing but oblige...

It seemed more of a dungeon than a basement with a wine cellar, to me – at least at first look. "What an odd place to put an pool table," I mused, "the lighting is extremely poor."

Penelope informs me that it was owned by a sweet, elderly couple, who had to move into a smaller, more manageable, place. Strangely, there were children's toys, some of them clearly made many years ago, but still in perfect condition and dust-free, laid out as if on altars. Some appear almost never to have been used, still being in their original boxes.

I ask about them, thinking that perhaps the owners hadn't quite finished removing their belongings, but Penelope tells me, "No, they are definitely finished moving, and have taken everything they want or need. I guess the toys and anything else you find are all yours."

"A treasure!" she claims, in a oddly child-like manner, "Lucky you!"

"A treasure," I think, "some old toys? Well, it doesn't really matter, as there is still plenty of room for my boxes."

Surprisingly, the wine cellar still contains quite a few, nicely aged bottles, which I am assured will also be left with the house.

We decided to head outside to check out the property in a little more depth. Ten full acres, I'm told - there's almost nothing but grass as far as the eye can see. Well, actually, I couldn't see that far, as the grass was rather high. But I'm sure the pride of ownership in having such a big lawn, will more than make up for the task of an occasional mowing. Besides, I've always wanted lawn ornaments.

"A well manicured lawn will make this place look like a mansion," Penelope tells me, "and check out those four beautiful pecan trees!"

I consider them and realize that they might come in handy indeed - a little shade in the summer can help in avoiding a heart attack or other misfortune, and I like pecans on occasion.

The realtor points out the dozens of shrubs and bushes, and suggests that if I let them grow just a little more, I could even get creative and turn them into works of art.

However, I'm thinking they might come in useful when climbing to reach the higher pecan branches, since I'm already thinking of the nuts I'll soon be collecting. Perhaps the bushes would provide a, surely unneeded, safety net in case of an unexpected fall. When I do something, I do it myself and I do it right, but I figure it wouldn't hurt to have a few precautions in place since I'll be living alone.

We finished the outdoor 'look-see' quickly - the full, ten, un-mowed acres suddenly seemed quite a bit of ground to cover, so we kept it to circling the house. I've been a city boy my whole life and lived in apartments, condos, and more recently, penthouses. I had done well for myself, having risen to the position of vice president of a large company, and decided to retire early, while I could enjoy it.

I begin remembering how as a child I envied those with a mere quarter-acre of property, and recall that I always wanted to build a go-cart, tree house and fort. Now I could finally have it all. Maybe the go-cart would take the form of a lawn mower - but, "hey," I think, "it ought to be fun, and a much welcome change from the chaos and rush of the city."

"Do you own a gun?" Penelope innocently asks. "No," I respond, "do I need one?" The agent just smiled, and said "Well there is the occasional critter, and, you know, this is a great property for hunting rabbits!"

"What a wonderful idea," I think, "I've always wanted to hunt!" I ask Penelope what kind of gun she would recommend - making the assumption that since she had suggested it, perhaps she had killed a few rabbits herself. She began walking back towards the car, and responded, "Oh, I dont know! The kind that goes bang I guess, you know, something with big bullets."

"Outstanding," I think, "I'll walk into the local gun store and ask for something with big bullets, that goes 'bang'."

I begin to wonder how my Corvette will handle the many dirt roads. I suppose I'll have to purchase a pick-up truck, and wonder if missing hub-caps are a requirement or have a specific purpose. No one better tell me I'll be wearing a straw hat in a year, it's definitely not my style!

"Do you want me to arrange for a home inspection?" Penelope asked.

I am a little confused, and reply, "Didn't we just do that? And I'll have plenty of time to 'inspect' the property, once, umm, I mean if, I buy it."

Penelope has begun panting - maybe the heat and her enthusiasm were becoming too much for her. The realtors' listing indicated a couple of outbuildings, as well as a couple of plots, but I couldn't see them anywhere. "Cool," I think, "gardens! I'll throw out a few seeds, and won't even need to go to the grocery store."

Penelope, ever so pretty with her long blond hair and slender figure, as the sun shone upon her, said, "Was I right? I'm always right with houses, you know, isn't it just perfect for you?"

I shrug my shoulders, and respond, "Perfect!"

To be continued....

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