Warning: a very long post so best to settle down with snacks and a beverage.
Di Carlo, as newest agent, was given the oldest listing. The Herman-Butch Estate, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, was never off the market long. Di’s agency had sole responsibility for maintaining and selling the property.
The last purchaser, Chef R. wanted create a goth/death metal/goth rock kinda bar, documenting the project for his reality television channel. Chef R.’s belligerent on a good day. At the estate, there were no good days. Red paint splattered itself on the wrong walls. Power tools walked to the attic. Blueprints spontaneously combusted. No one messes with Chef R., “not even &@##!! ghosts.”
Inviting people from a paranormal “reality” show to film it, the group settled in at the old house – for about 2 hours – before everyone ran screaming to shiver on the sidewalk waiting for Di’s office to open. Chef, the colour of his “whites,” waving the deed and muttering “All yours. Not mine. All his.”
Di was running out of potential uses and users: conference center; horror writing workshops; “live” video games; story-telling and folk lore; haunted renovations. She drafted letters; put the house in social media. And waited.
She thought her colleagues were joking: “A message, Di.” Snicker, sniggle. “Some guy and his wife want to see your nightmare, I mean dream, house.”
So, this left Di cautiously pacing the front porch. Groans and moans from within the house, and the woods behind unsettled her. Away from the property, blue sky danced with sunbeams. Grey clouds reached out to touch the lightening rod and chimney pot. Here cool winds waltzed.
“Ms. Carlo, I presume” Di stumbled, and awkwardly greeted her potential buyers. He was rather dapperly dressed as if for a Broadway revival. Narrow stripped wool suit, tie, watch fob. Impeccable.
His wife . . . Di, doubting she was really a goth queen or gothic princess, must be a model. Still in her work clothes. And the extremely pale skin . . . make-up, sensitivity to sun, which explained the exquisitely decorated bamboo umbrella she carried.
“As I mentioned on the phone, this is really is an as is fixer-upper. The last . . .”
“No mind, my dear,” he grinned, moustache twitching “Basement laboratories are rarely up to spec. Doors nailed shut. Secret passageways bricked in”
“Exactly,” nodded Mrs. G (for Goth) “I have a list,” producing a long narrow scroll covered in exemplary calligraphy. “We may seem like a fussy family, but really even our butler is just like a big black pussy cat.”
“Ms. Carlo, why not show my wife the interior attributes while I stroll the grounds.” Looking like Grouch Marx, (now Mr. M.), produced a large cigar from an inside jacket pocket, and strode into the prickliest, blood-drawingest thicket.
Mrs. G. put her hand on Di’s arm – the fingers were nail polish-frosticles as they crossed the threshold. The house breathed a sigh of relief or welcome, Di wasn’t sure which. Hopefully, then, she had been forgiven for the Chef R. fiasco. Starting in the basement, Mrs. G. made notes, asked odder questions than most potential home buyers. “Any axe murders committed on the grounds?” “Are there many thunderstorms and hurricanes.” “Does the electricity fail on a regular basis, with crews taking days to repair?”
Double-checking her list, Mrs. G. seemed satisfied with her inspection and Di’s arcane knowledge. Mrs. G. confided: “The education system is appalling in our district. The curriculum leaves out basics like bat biology, Transylvania poetry, simple spells. My daughter resents the daily visits to the school councilor. This house would be perfect for home schooling.”
Mr. M. bounded in. “Splendid! Plenty of room out back for the relatives. And with a swamp added, the perfect playground for the children.”
“Inside – well, someone started horrid renovations to this nice old house, but I think you would enjoy the workout of un-redoing. Darling, let’s get it today. Surprise everyone. A full flower moon present.”
Di mumbled: “It is an as is sale.”
“I read my wife’s mind. We often talk for hours without moving our fingers or lips. As we speak, Ms. Carlo, our butler is bringing the money from the car. Now, where do I sign?”
“A down payment?” Di felt a little woozy. “We might want to discuss this in my office . . . .”
“Oh, no. I believe in cash transactions paid in full only. To make sure you get a great commission, I’ve added another $200,00 to the asking price”
At that moment, someone cleared their throat on the porch. “Come in – I’d like you to meet the nice real estate agent who’s been helping us.”
The butler walked in with a large suitcase open to reveal stacks of $1,000 bills. Di fainted. Lurch carefully placed her on an old horsehair chaise lounge.
“Lurch,” Gomez said, “You have such an effect on women. No wonder Fester is jealous. Tish, Cara Mia, won’t the family be surprised!”
Number 1313 Mockingbird Lane giggled from skeleton bricked into an attic fireplace, to the secret passage from the basement to the bottom of the hill. Now to learn finger-snapping . . .
There are references mostly to the Addams Family but some to the Munsters throughout this tale. I met the Addams Family before their mid-1960s television. Charles Addams drew cartoons for the New Yorker Magazine, including who would become the Addams Family. My father had several volumes of Addams collected cartoons. I couldn’t read the captions (not all had them), but I thought they were very funny picture books. But then, I was always precocious when it came to books.
And, I always thought of Wednesday as being weird and depressed – I could identify on some levels. The 1960s Wednesday was strange, but not as cruel and mean-spirited as in the movies.
So, for your listening pleasure: The theme song from 1964 Addams’s Family. And, the barber shop cartoon – I remember the first time I saw it in the Addams “picture books.”
They’re creepy and they’re kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They’re all together ooky,
The Addams Family.
Their house is a museum
Where people come to see ’em
They really are a scream
The Addams Family.
So get a witches shawl on
A broomstick you can crawl on
We’re gonna pay a call on
The Addams Family.
And, the barber shop cartoon – I remember the first time I saw it in the Addams “picture books.” It remains one of my favourites.
Conjured and concocted for Tale Weaver #65 – The Old House