Retired Realtor Drawn Back In For One Last Big Score

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Vol 37 Issue 28

ESL Textbook Concentrates On Food-Preparation Vocabulary

NEW YORK–An English as a Second Language textbook focuses predominantly on food-preparation vocabulary, night-school student Eduardo Reyes reported Monday. "I must admit, I would like to learn how to say more than, 'I have diced the onions,' and, 'Did he want scrambled or over-easy?'" said a disconsolate Reyes, speaking through a translator, following his first lesson. "I had hoped to learn words for the different parts of the body so I can pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. I have instead learned much about the grilling of chickens."

Candidate Turns To Focus Group For Position On Rape

RICHMOND, VA– Wanting to "feel out the popular attitude before committing to a position," Virginia House of Delegates candidate Mark Earley turned to focus-group analysis Monday to determine Virginians' stance on the hot-button issue of rape. "So far, results indicate that the state's residents skew heavily toward anti-rape," Earley said. "A good 99.9 percent of Virginians say they feel strongly that the state would be a better place if rape were reduced." Earley has not yet declared whether he will adopt a hardline anti-rape stance or take a more moderate position to avoid alienating the state's estimated 35 pro-rape voters.

Cuba To Buy Car

HAVANA–In a bid to bring its citizens greater independence, the nation of Cuba decided Tuesday to pool its resources and purchase a car. "We know of an '82 Buick Skylark in Haiti that we should be able to fix up and make usable," Cuban transportation minister Alvaro Perez Morales said. "Having a car will make it easier for our citizens to do everything from grocery shopping to commuting to work." Use of the car will be determined by lottery, with a winner chosen daily from the nation's pool of 11 million citizens.

I've Never Been So Accurately Insulted In All My Life

Well, you crossed the line, that's for sure. I've been insulted before, but until today, I'd never been attacked with such appalling accuracy. I cannot believe you had the gall to unleash that torrent of utterly valid criticisms. Vicious, founded attacks like yours cut deeper than any knife.

Celebrity Meltdowns

Mariah Carey, Ben Affleck, and Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean are among the celebrities to check into rehab after recent breakdowns. What do you think?

Peeping Tom Tired Of Watching People Watch Television

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO–Jonathan Hargrove, a Colorado Springs-area peeping Tom, expressed exasperation Tuesday, when a fifth consecutive victim did nothing more with her evening than watch hours of television. "I thought peering in on strangers would be more, I don't know, exciting," said the 44-year-old Hargrove, speaking from his hydrangea-bush hiding place. "I guess I somehow expected other people's lives to be more sexy or interesting than mine." Hargrove did note, however, that Big Brother 2 is "really starting to heat up."

Headline News' Makeover

Last week, CNN Headline News unveiled its much-hyped makeover, intended to lure younger viewers. Among the changes:
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Just Like Everything Else!: Fox 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. ABC Pete's wife is still on him about building that darn shed, these kids are going to be the death of Sheila and Dave, and the hot next-door neighbor is up in EVERYBODY'S business! Sunday nights on ABC couldn't be any more familiar!

Special Coverage



Retired Realtor Drawn Back In For One Last Big Score

HARRISON, OH–After 30 years in the real-estate business, Jack Parker knew what he was: retired. His time in The Life had given him more than his share of ups and downs, and the veteran RE/MAX agent was finally out of the game for good, with a little house of his own and some money socked away. Yes, Jack Parker's days of proudly serving the home-buying needs of the greater Cincinnati area were over.

Retired agent Parker stands before his last big score.

At least, that's what he thought.

Last Thursday, four months after hanging up his red RE/MAX blazer, Parker was drawn back in for one last big score. "I was out on the porch, taking a little nap, when I hear a guy walk up," Parker said. "I tell him go away, I don't want any of whatever he's selling, thank you, when a voice I never wanna hear again says he might have a job for me. And I think, oh, Christ. It's Sneaky Pete."

"Sneaky" Peter Kelp, a rattlesnake of a broker in his mid-40s who has had a hand in upwards of half of all Harrison home sales since the mid-1980s, had a job all lined up. And Parker, he knew, was the perfect guy to pull it off. All he had to do was bait the hook.

"Nice little place you got here, Jack," said Kelp, giving Parker's modest suburban split-level the once-over with what Hamilton County realty insiders call "the sharpest gimlet eye this side of the Ohio." "I mean, it's not where you'd expect a hot realtor to retire to, but I guess it keeps the dogs off your scent, so to speak."

Shooting Parker a telling sideways glance, Kelp added: "But it's no 1.5 acres of prime Harrison property with a 6.31 percent 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, either, you know what I mean?"

"I knew right then he was working an angle," Parker said. "He knew it hurt me to retire without that one last big score. But I wasn't about to get up out of my chaise lounge. The realty game cost me my health and a couple of perfectly good marriages. I wasn't about to go back to that. So I tell Sneaky Pete I'm retired, and that there ain't enough commission in the world, and that he can get off my property, thank you very much, and who the hell ever heard of a three bedroom/four baths on a prime piece of Hamilton County property for just $237,851, anyway? But he just smiles and throws a picture of a house in my lap."

"And, oh, man, what a house," Parker added.

Through his various realty-world connections, Kelp had been able to secure guarantees on a 3,200-square-foot one-story home on Westlake Court, an area with low property taxes and good public schools.

"Sneaky Pete says to me, 'It's the one last big score every realtor dreams of,'" Parker said. "'The commission on this, you simply would not believe. It's a cream puff, a lead-pipe cinch in the right hands. But that's the catch: I gotta move it in 30 days, or it reverts back to the client's estate for tax reasons. I gotta do this now, Jackie Boy, and that means I need your magic.'"

Parker sighed, put his head in his hands, and told Kelp to ankle it off his half-acre lot.

"I just waited," Kelp told reporters. "I knew it wouldn't be long. I left the photos and the floor plan there. And he hadn't said no."

Two nights later, Kelp received a call from Parker shortly before 3 a.m.

"Okay, damn you," Parker said. "I'm in. But we do it my way this time, with my guys. And no screwups, Kelp. I'm not letting you do me like that splanch in Walnut Hills."

Parker soon had his scheme nailed down.

An anxious Parker cases the 3,200-square-foot joint.

"We get a guy interested, see," Parker said. "We show him pictures and tell him how lovely the place is: the all-new moldings, the built-in fireplace, the vaulted ceilings. 'They don't make 'em like this anymore,' that whole rap. Then we pick him up wherever he wants, in broad daylight. He doesn't suspect a thing. We take him right in through the front door, just like we own the place, hand on his arm. Real friendly. Real friendly. We lead him around, maybe I say something about the screened-in porch or flagstone patio or some snow job like that, and I sneak behind him so I can see him but he can't see me. Then, when he walks through the French doors into the living room... blammo!"

Parker then smacked his fist into his palm to illustrate the buyer's reaction upon seeing the broad expanse of hardwood flooring leading up to the bay window with the view of Pike's Pond.

To make sure things go as smoothly as a double-glazed picture window, Parker has contacted all of his old associates from the realty game.

"It ain't gonna be easy," Parker said. "I must've cased the joint with Kelp a million times. I had two specialists drive down from Dayton with a truck full of fancy equipment to sweep the place for bugs. I got the best roofer in the business, Big Beef Manzo, checking the shingles. And, if things get down and dirty, I just call in Joe The Cleaner to have a little talk with the client. He'll clean the place up nice."

Kelp said he never had any doubt that Parker would be in on the plan. And he has no doubt about his motivation.

"Parker isn't doing it for the money," Kelp said. "He thinks he is. But I know why he's really doing it: the thrill of the sale. It's in his blood. He loves the plan, the pitch, the drama of it all. It's the only thing in his life he's ever been good at, and he knows it. It took him all of 36 hours to call me after he threw me off his acreage. Oh, he's in, all right. He's in for life."

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