Dan Rattiner's Stories

Counting Pennies: Gorgeous Mansion for Sale in the Hamptons

A conversation about real estate.

The 1955 Jaguar XKE pulled up in front of the real estate office in Bridgehampton, and out from it emerged Carl Walterson, his wife, Carla, and their six-year-old son, Willie.

“I’ve been expecting you,” broker Biff Carlton said, meeting them at the door.

“I’d like to head right out,” Carl said. “We’ve got a lunch date and a babysitter coming in an hour.”

“Absolutely,” said Biff, walking back inside and grabbing his briefcase.

“That’s quite a car you’ve got there.”

“Thanks.”

“Want to go in my Buick? There’s lots more room in the Buick.”

“No, let’s go in the Jag,” Carl said. He motioned to his wife and son. “Carla, you and Willie climb in the back so our salesman can get in the front.”

“Love to ride in the Jag,” Biff said. They all climbed in.

“Where we going?” Carl asked.

“I’ll give you directions. Got a beautiful oceanfront home just for you.”

Fifteen minutes later, the car pulled up in front of a massive three-story mansion on five acres. The sea splashed against the dunes beyond.

Biff led them through. There was a library, a sunroom, a living room with two fireplaces, a playroom, an up-to-date kitchen, a dining room, seven bedrooms and six baths. A tennis court and pool were out between the house and the dunes. Built originally for a railroad tycoon.

“Garage?” asked Carl.

“Detached, off to the left.” He pointed to the left. “Behind the trees. Servants quarters above it.”

“I love it,” Carla said.

“I like it, too,” Willie chimed in.

“What’s the asking?”

“Owner wants $350.75. I know it’s over your budget. But I thought you might stretch it a bit.”

“I think the most we could afford is $300, as I said over the phone,” Carl said firmly.

“That’s our budget,” Carla said. “But couldn’t we offer just a bit more?”

“Would they take $310?” Carl asked.

“I doubt it. They seem firm.”

“Well, we’ll think about it,” Carl said.

On the way back to the real estate office, Carl saw a gas station coming up on his right.

“We’re near empty,” he said. “If you have a minute, I’d like to fill it up.”

“Take your time,” Biff said.

The attendant came out of the station, started the high-test pump, cleaned the windshield and admired the car.

“Brand new?” he asked.

“No. A year old. I got it for $22.50. Quite a bargain. New they run $44.”

“Very nice anyway,” the attendant said. “That’ll be eight cents.”

Carl had only six. Carla pitched in with a penny. And so did Biff.

“I’ll pay you back,” Carl said.

“No worries,” Biff said. “Happy to help.”

“Well, a penny saved is a penny earned,” Biff said.

They dropped Biff off with a promise they’d call him in the morning. Leaving, they saw the Carvel just down the road.

“Can we stop for an ice cream?” Willie asked from the back seat.

“Don’t have any more pennies,” Carl said.

“Well, I have one,” Willie said, waving it at them.

“Gosh darn, why didn’t you offer it up to that man?”

Willie grinned. “I wanted an ice cream!”

“That’s my boy!” Carl said.

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