- Merriton: Twelve Hours from San Francisco – Kindle Edition
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“That? That’s a shed…” Randy was on the edge of frustration. The stupid realtor had taken him to timeshares and condos all day.
“Yeah, that’s a shed. It’s not even your shed, but I’m stopping here ‘cause I need to talk to you two.” The realtor twisted in the seat of her car, facing Randy and Sierra in the back seat.
She turned off the windshield wipers and let the car get quiet. All that Randy could hear was the rain pounding on the car. He looked at Sierra and the two of them looked at the realtor.
“I’ve shown you everything available in the area that you said you’d be interested in.” She was facing Sierra, but she turned to the back seat and looked Randy in the eye. “It’s obvious that she has no idea what you want and it doesn’t matter what she wants. You won’t tell me what you want, so I’m going to show you the house you’re going to buy.”
She turned around and looked at the steering wheel. “You’re nice kids. I don’t really want to sell this house to you, but I’m pretty sure that this is the place you want. Before I show it, though, you need to know that no one has lived in this house for more than two years ever since I started sellin’ here.”
The realtor started up the windshield wipers again and Sierra asked, “What’s the matter with it?” The realtor pulled the car into the muddy drive alongside the shed. She shook her head while her silver Toyota slogged through the gravel and mud. “I don’t think there’s anything the matter with it. I think the kind of people that buy it don’t really want to live here. They got some idea of movin’ out to the country or somethin’ and Merriton doesn’t live up to that fantasy.”
The words hung in the car. Randy felt like he could just pick them off the felty ceiling of the vehicle and put them in his pocket. He wished he had his camera filming the realtor so he could keep the words. Two thoughts wrestled in his mind: “I’ll show you” and “Maybe she’s right.” He watched the towering trees encompass his view and feuded with his own mind.
Sierra saw it first. She drew in a breath of air. “I don’t think this is really in the price range we talked about.” Randy stopped looking out the side window and pulled himself to the middle of the car to look out the front windshield. The house was exactly what he wanted.
“Actually, the trust is willing to give this place up for the same price as that condo at the Cascades that you liked so much.” The realtor pulled the car as close to the house as possible and Randy jumped out of the backseat. The mud threatened to take his shoes from his feet as he headed to the porch. By the time he got to the door, he turned around and noticed that Sierra hadn’t even gotten out of the car. The door opened and Sierra bounded out and jumped quickly to the porch. “Randy! The last person who owned this house killed himself!”
The realtor was still getting out of the car and opening her umbrella. Randy pulled Sierra around the side of the wrap-around porch. “This is exactly what I have been looking for. You keep showing me condos and timeshares. I don’t want that. I want to move here.” The realtor opened the door and walked into the house without them and they came around the corner to enter. They followed the sound of her footsteps and ended up in the master bedroom at the back of the house.
On the wall and floor was a dark brown splatter. Sierra was appalled. “Didn’t they even clean it up?!” The realtor looked at the stain. “Yeah, but he stayed here for about a week before anyone noticed, so the stain is still here. The trust doesn’t want to negotiate. They don’t want to fix it up. They just want to unload the property.”
Sierra looked at Randy. “You want THIS house?” Randy looked at the stain. “Is there another bedroom?” The realtor shrugged and headed to the stairs. “Yeah, follow me.” Up the stairs, there were three more rooms filled with furniture circa 1973. “All this stuff has been here since Artimus Bowen died. It just keeps getting included with the house every time it gets sold.” She took them to the room with gold shag carpet and an orange and gold bedspread. “This is where Artimus and Edith died. They both died in that bed right there. Edith, about two years before Artimus. They lived here for thirty-two years, and everyone still misses ‘em a bunch.”
The realtor sighed, “I’ve sold this house three times and Andy has sold it about five. I think a couple ‘a times some realtors from town sold it. I sold it to the guy who blew his brains out downstairs.” She looked around Edith and Artimus’ room. “Sometimes I think he bought this place to kill himself in it. Had more money than sense if you ask me.” She walked over to the bed and tucked the bedspread a little more under the pillows. “Damn shame, really. The Bowens were happy here for a long time and we were happy with ‘em. Edith taught me to play piano.” The realtor looked up at them. “Artimus never talked to no one, but he kept the goats happy and healthy. No one wants goat’s milk anymore, though.”
While the realtor reminisced, Sierra looked over to Randy. With one look, she knew. She could feel all the open paths before her close off. She could almost see a park ranger closing the metal gates and locking them.