Market Value

Cartoon by Dan Rattiner

On a gorgeous July afternoon, Thelma and George were sitting out on their front porch, each reading a copy of the latest issue of Dan’s Papers.

“Says here that people have been leaving the city in droves and real estate sales in the Hamptons are hot,” Thelma said.

“I wonder what our house would go for,” George wondered.

“You’re not thinking of selling, are you?”

“No, just wondering. I suppose if somebody offered us $10 million.”

“Who are those people?” Thelma said, nodding toward the street.

Out front of the house, in the driveway, three people were getting out of a black Mercedes-Benz.

“I have no idea,” George said.

There were two women and a man. One of the women was talking to the man.

“Yes, there is a swimming pool,” she was saying. “It’s around the other side, by the garage.”

“Excuse me?” George shouted, walking over and rolling up his copy of Dan’s Papers as if he might use it as a weapon.

“Yes, we’re prepared to offer you $10 million,” the woman shouted back.

“I didn’t…” George began.

“If necessary, we could go up to 11,” the other woman said.

“Might we go inside?” this second woman said.

Thelma was standing by the lounge chair on the deck, still holding a Dan’s Papers.

“These people are offering us $11 million,” George shouted back at Thelma.

“Oh,” Thelma said.

They went inside, all protocols in place, naturally. They went through the kitchen and the dining room and the three visitors raved about the place. Apparently one of the women was a broker, the others a young couple.

As the guests went up the stairs, George said, “I don’t know if 11 million is enough.”

Thelma stopped him. “George, what are you saying? Your grandparents would roll over in their graves if we sold their house.”

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“These are the four bedrooms up here,” the woman said from the top of the stairs. “Great views of the pond from the master bedroom.”

George had been born in the master bedroom.

Suddenly the bathroom door off the master bedroom sprang open and two women came out.

“We just heard that offer for 11,” one of the women said. “If 11 million is not enough, we could go higher.”

“How much higher?” George said.

“I’m sorry,” the agent with the young couple said. “I’m showing the house.”

“Well, we got here first,” one of the other women said. Behind her the water dripped from a shower head. She turned to Thelma. “You have a lovely home. A bidet. And four shower heads.”

“We’re offering 15,” this lady said.

“I’ll leave you my card,” the broker with the young couple said. “Call us if you would take 12.” With that, she led the young couple down the stairs and left.

The two other women then finished their tour of the upstairs when, from the landing above and behind them, Thelma said, “There’s something in our pool.” She was looking out the landing window at it.

“What?” George said.

“I don’t know. A deer?”

The four of them moved quickly through the sunroom to the slate leading to the pool, just in time to see a man, in full scuba gear, climb out of the water and begin to walk over to them, his flippers banging against the slate.

“What are you doing in our pool?” George asked.

“I’ve been sent over by the buyer,” the man said. “The pool passed muster.”

“What buyer?”

“I don’t know. But I was told to tell you that the buyer will offer 13 million.”

The two women snorted. “We’ve already offered 15 million,” one of them said.

“Well, he’ll go up to 16. Seventeen if need be.”

“Who?” George asked.

“Here’s my card,” one of the women said. “If you will take 15, call us.” And they left.

“Like I said, my buyer will do 17 if need be,” the dripping wet scuba man said. He reached in a zipper case and pulled out a damp card and dropped it on a nearby table. Then he zipped back up, flip-flopped to the pool, dove in and was gone.

With that, a helicopter came down and gently landed on the broad back lawn behind the house.

Thelma and George ran over just in time to see two men and a woman climbing down onto the grass.

“Are you the owners?” one of the men asked.

“Yes,” Thelma and George said, both at the same time.

“I love your house,” the woman said. She was wearing diamonds and a fur, which seemed very inappropriate on this hot summer day.

“I will give you $25 million for your house,” the woman said. “And if that’s not enough, I will go up to 30. But you must sign a binder,” she said, reaching into a bag and pulling out a legal document.

As she was holding out a pen, a noise could be heard from up on the roof. Everybody looked up.

A man, covered in soot, poked his head out the top of one of the chimneys.

“Don’t sign that,” he shouted. “I will give you 40 million.”

Another man’s head poked out of another chimney.

“Fifty,” he said.

Thelma and George were then startled to see a man dragging a kayak out of the pond.

“Eighty,” he shouted.

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