Maye West Mysteries Sequel to Murder on Lake Haverly
Alone in my office, my chin resting between cupped hands, my eyes closed, I was daydreaming about the good old days. After signing up for Real Estate School, my temporary Real Estate Permit clutched in my hot little hands, I showed up at my new office. My broker, Sam Jones, said, “There’s your desk; there’s your phone; get to work!” Armed with that through training, enthusiasm, and a desire to make money, I dove headfirst into the dog-eat-dog Real Estate business.
Real Estate was a “Man’s Profession.” My three fellow agents assumed I would love to cook, clean the bathroom, and assume secretarial duties. They supplied a salmon for the “little woman” to cook. I said, “You guys are gonna get mighty hungry waiting for me to prepare your food; I am here to work just like you!” It went over like a lead balloon.
I might have had a few second thoughts after I learned what my new profession’s practice entailed. “I know what you’re thinking!” The ‘Good old Days’ of Real Estate were a piece of cake, right?
And it was! No cell phones, no lockboxes, no computer or MLS printouts! Want to show three houses to your client? No problem! Call three offices, reserve three keys, drive to three offices, pick up three keys, show three homes, take three keys back, and repeat day after day. The average commission was $300.00 to $800.00, and you worked your ass off to get one or two every month. Damn, it was fun, and I loved every minute of it!
The contract was one legal page with carbons, which evolved into 9 pages, no carbons plus addendums and CYA (Cover your ass) forms.
Shaking myself awake, time to do something productive. The problem was; my personal production was as dry as the Arizona desert since my once-in-a-lifetime Lake Haverly sale closed escrow. You remember that one, don’t you? My company listed and sold the four properties surrounding a Shangri-La lake, locally known as Lake Haverly, to my clients from New York City.
Ed (Fast Eddie) McGinley and I worked together, closing the Lake Haverly sale. His dry humor makes me laugh. To give you an example, Ed’s pain-in-the-ass client Mr. Willoby called Ed several times a day complaining about something wrong with his house. I heard Ed say, “Mr. Willoby, the inspection doesn’t cover every little thing. Ed reached his breaking point and said, “Mr. Willoby, it’s a UFO!” After a short pause, he said, “You fucking own it!” He hung up the phone, and I fell off my chair, laughing!
James Crandall was our resident hothead client, challenging our patience with the Lake Haverly transaction. He was also Frank Singleton’s and Coroner George Green’s biggest headache! James showed up to his memorial service alive, well, and mad as hell! When James’ long-lost son, John Kinney, showed up, James turned over a new leaf.
My best girlfriend, Lavonne Hall, an interior decorator, hitched her wagon to mine and followed me from Washington State to Arizona. She uses my office for estimates and plays receptionist, answering the phones when needed. She decorated my office and once a year kidnaps me and takes me shopping for clothes. She has more taste in her little finger than I have in my whole body. When John Kinney and Lavonne met, they fell madly in love and are now planning a big wedding. I am happy for them, but he is going to take her to Texas: Dammit!
Sara MacLanahan, my second agent, is a kick-in-the-pants little ball of fire. It’s a miracle that she didn’t jump ship the first week! It hardly fazed her when she found her new client’s bloody bodies in her first listing! She re-listed the property with the relatives of her murdered clients. I could see a little of me in her.
Chapter 1. Go west young woman.
Maye West is my name, and Real Estate is my game. If you are old enough, you will remember the real Mae West, a big Blonde potty-mouth bombshell. You will be able to tell the difference between her and me. At five ft. 4 ½ inches tall, Red Clairol # 44R hair; eyes that turn totally green if you piss me off. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I go from Sweetheart to Bitch in 60 seconds. I have to admit they are right.
After two snowstorms dumped 5 feet of snow on my sleepy little town in Corinna, Maine, I bugged out, and upon arriving in the small rain-soaked town of Montesano, Washington, I thought “what now?” Real Estate seemed like a viable option; the only requirement; high school diploma or GED. Because of some brilliant Bureaucratic Lunacy, I was allowed to start selling Real Estate with a Temporary Permit. Eventually, I passed the Washington Real Estate Exam, which, by the way, was not rocket science, and I passed it on the first try. All the hopefuls were allowed a pencil, ballpoint pen, one sheet of paper, no books, and no calculator. A monitor circulated the room to make sure you weren’t cheating. Two weeks later you received a postcard with an X showing that you passed or failed.
I was thrilled to be hired by Smith & Smith Realty (the
the name has been changed to protect the guilty). Sam Wiggins, the Broker, a short chubby guy with thinning brown hair and gray eyes behind large thick glasses, always sat at his computer two-finger typing and a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He greeted me with the encouraging words, “There’s your desk, there’s your phone; get to work! Nothing to this business, just fill in the blanks.” When I asked, “What exactly do I put in the blanks?” He said, “Just look in the Closed Files and copy what other Agents put in them.”
“Right, This is gonna be fun.”
Later in my career, I would learn just how bad that advice was; sales are never alike. Sammy’s only other helpful words were, “Take a different route to work every day. When you see a FISBO (For Sale by Owner) sign stop and ask if you can list the property.” Armed with all that wisdom on my first day, I spotted a FISBO sign and pulled into the driveway in my blue VW bus.
“Hey, it was what I had to drive.”
I confidently knocked on the door. An elderly man with a full head of pure white hair and big blue eyes, dressed in jeans and a not so white t-shirt, opened the door. I said with a smile on my face, “I’m Maye West with Smith & Smith Realty, and I noticed your For Sale sign and would like to talk to you about listing your property.” He screamed “I hate Smith & Smith Realty. They screwed me over on my last house, and I wouldn’t deal with them for all the rice in China.” For the next half hour, he hollered at me while I stood there with my mouth hanging open. Probably, seeing the look of horror on my face, he stopped screaming and started laughing and said: “Oh, what the hell, come on in, and we’ll talk.”
The house had two small rooms that appeared to be in the final stages of being remodeled. I would later learn, it was a “tearer-downer” rather than a “fixer upper.” We chatted for about an hour, and before I knew it, he agreed to list with me.
Now the fun began; I realized that I did not have a clue what to do next. All those contracts that I was supposed to copy to fill in the blanks were all the way back at the office.
“Help, Mamma, come get your baby girl!”
Together we filled in the blanks with the aid of the gentleman that was getting an agreement to widen the road. I shot back to the office lickety split to ask Sammy to look over the contract before I got the signature. He hollered at me, and not for the last time in my short career with Smith & Smith Realty, “You did what? Get your ass back out there and get that signature.” When I insisted Sammy look over the contract, he quickly glanced at the paper and hollered, “It looks fine, now get the hell out and go get that damn signature.”
“Why does everyone, holler at me?”
Not bad for my first day in Real Estate. Sammy was thrilled because; I got a full 7 % commission. Commissions are supposed to be negotiable. However, that doesn’t mean all Realtors will negotiate, or their Brokers will be happy if their agents bring in lower percent listings. I recall one Broker being pissed at me because I didn’t write an Agreement for Sale (private contract-no Banker) at 18% interest. The usury was 12% in Washington, with some stiff penalties and jail time. What pissed him off more was that knowing his greedy nature, I had both buyer and seller sign before he got his hands on it. Once the contract had both the seller and buyers signatures, it was a deal, and he had to live unhappily with it. Another shouting match and another short career with that Real Estate Company. BTW when you leave one broker, you can’t take your listings or sales with you. He owns all of the listings and sales, not closed. But early on I learned how to make the change at the right time; I had no listings on paper, and all my sales were closed, and the checks were in the bank.