Meet Allison Little - A Little Will Go A Long Way - Real Estate Diva, reluctant sleuth. "I am not a doctor, I do not live with winsome witty children. I am not a park ranger and I do not cut my hair with a nail scissors. As a matter of fact, I also do know exactly why a person is dead, I do know that when I find a dead body in the kitchen of a million dollar home, it will make it that much more difficult to sell. Difficult, but not impossible."
Allison Little is an excellent Realtor but less skilled as a investigator, what with best friends, cats, handsome handymen and weird, scary art to dispose of. Selling a house has never been more difficult, or more dangerous.
The first thing you should know about me is that I do not cut my own hair with a nail scissors. Please. Robert would kill me if I even considered touching my hair with my own two hands.
I'm not a doctor and I never know exactly why a body is dead, I only know that when you find a dead body in the kitchen, it makes it that much more difficult to sell the house, what with all the hysteria about full disclosure now-a- days.
Difficult; but not impossible.
I am not a national park ranger. I do not work while also caring for adorable children or difficult teens. In fact I completely forgot to have children. Some where in my past, the word children was written on some long ago goal list along with items like white wedding at the Marin Country Club and Lose 50 pounds by Christmas penciled in just below that.
I am not a sheriff for a small town in the Deep South.
I also know that some people will look to the author and say, "Oh, is that YOU?" Of course it's not her. I have twice the listings she does and better hair. I'm here to tell you, I am myself. For some people like my best friend Carrie, that is enough. For others like my long-suffering broker on record, Inez; it's too much.
"Can't you just tone it down a little?" Inez asks on a weekly basis. Nope, I answer.
Sometimes I think I should get a little dog. But then I'd have to get a new bag to carry him in, and suddenly it seems too complicated.
That body in the kitchen. You are probably wondering about that, like is it some kind of metaphor? No, the dead man was the former Mr. Mortimer Maximilian Smith. He had two interesting first names to make up for the third and by the time I discovered him he was already quite dead, sprawled out on the kitchen floor of his strenuously decorated home in Southern Marin.
I wasn't really supposed to be there at all. I don't usually sell homes in Marin, my beat is the River's Bend area of Sonoma County, but my mother knew Mr. Smith from her exercise class. He told her that he wanted to sell his house quickly and needed someone he could trust.
I can appreciate his concern. Especially since, according to my mother, Mr. Smith's children don't exude trustworthiness (although she later admitted that she had not, in fact, met any of the Smith children, so you can see I began this project using only cold hard conjecture). But, since the children had apparently announced last week that they thought it was better for dad to move out of his huge home and into a more suitable location, Dad, in response to this new threat to his lifestyle, needed to counter fairly quickly.
I love adult children of a certain age. Suitable location translates to a retirement community that was just far enough away from said children to relieve them of the obligatory weekly visit. From the sound of it, the children were probably considering one of the active senior communities currently proliferating across the country.
I can hardly wait to see how Boomers manage to spin death. In Mr. Smith's case, he already knows.
Here's another fact: the children weren't planning to sell the house; that was Mr. Smith's idea. And it made no sense at all.
Enter, me Allison Little - a Little Goes a Long Way - with New Century Realty. I had a dead man on the Spanish tile floor, survivors who did not want to sell, and the police on the phone. Or was it the fire department? Whomever. I was personally hoping I was calling within the county limits, but there is no guarantee. I could be talking to some nice young thing in Sacramento or LA, or Bangladesh.
"There's a dead body in the kitchen." I calmly announced.
"Very. Can some one come out and, you know, get him?"
"There's no hurry ma'am if the person is already dead. Are you in a safe place?"
I hadn't even considered that. Really, I don't consider my own safety that often- over confidence coupled with having read too many magazine articles with titles like Take Back the Night when I was a teenager. Anyway, who would want to take me on? Most desperate junkies weigh maybe a third of what I do. I could sit on them and crush them. It seems that enough junkies have spread the word to that effect. I'm never accosted when I'm in the City.
I would judge where I was standing was reasonably secure, although not entirely. Any place my mother recommends has the potential to become instantly dangerous, if only because she may show up unannounced. In fact, it was her fault I was standing here in the first place.
My mother's phone call had interrupted me just in time. I was languishing in one of those interminable information meetings that realtors must endure on a depressingly regular basis. Sometimes we attend the meeting because of peer pressure, sometimes because we need the credits to continue our license. And sometimes we can acquire actual, useful information. This was not a meeting that covered the latter. This meeting was entirely devoted to beating the dead horse of 1031-exchange subject. We had been flaying the horse since 9:00 AM. I knew there was only 45 days to identify the new property; I understood that before I came in. Inez made me attend.
It was two o'clock when a rescue call came in. The phone buzzed and danced across the Formica topped table, I blinked, trying to focus on the phone. My eyeballs were about to fall out because they were so dry. Before the call, what was left of my eyes kept straying to the picture of the beautiful waterfall on my water bottle. The bottle was empty except for the picture. The guy next to me, who just recently won the Mr. River's Bend contest (ticket sales to fund a worthy cause, I think it was the Homeless Prevention League or Seniors, something like that) and looked it, guzzled the last of his water bottle emblazoned with the simple command Refresh! I would love to refresh him. And I would love to know less about 1031 exchanges.
So I did not care who was calling. I murmured "a client," picked up my eyeballs (that was a metaphor) and escaped to the women's room. The acoustics in the ladies room are excellent.
My mother calls any time, for any reason. For the most part, her calls go directly to voice mail in my futile attempt to convince her that I work and am often busy. But this was an exception. I answered.
She had an idea that could only be discussed over lunch. I'm all about a free lunch, so I agreed.
I think I'll name my first child Liz Pendens.
"Mr. Smith is such a nice man," my mother insisted. "He should be able to sell his own house if he wants."
My mother sat on the edge of her padded chair at her usual table at the Marin County Club. She was dressed in her "casual" uniform; pressed tan slacks and a pressed cashmere sweater. How her dry cleaners manage to press cashmere I'll never know.
My mother always wears pearls. She tells me they are more refined than diamonds.
She daintily cuts her tiny side salad that she claims is enough for a full lunch. She eats the lettuce bite by bite. She chews carefully.
I too, chew carefully.