Okay, so here’s some backstory before we get into the disturbing stuff. I work for a call center that handles real estate agents. I’m pretty much a glorified assistant to agents, but to about 300 different agents a day. I schedule appointments for them, and I call home owners, tenants, and listing agents to get approval to show their homes. It’s a pretty monotonous job, but it pays well enough, and I get to sit down instead of be on my feet for eight hours. Sometimes, the monotony is broken by some pretty odd or interesting homeowners: Old folks that have had their home forever and can’t use a cell phone or computer, or disgruntled people who are about to foreclose with the bank and just want to swear and have you identify with them. They’re all usually pretty funny…at least…in retrospect. What I’m about to tell you about now, however, is not one of those instances.
My day started out fine enough. As hot as it was, it looked bright and colorful everywhere, and I was in a pretty good mood. I sat down at my desk, quickly stuffed a granola bar down my throat, and started making calls. About an hour into my work day, I came across an appointment for a listing here in Texas. It was for a house down on a farm road, and the price was pretty high for that market. It had been withdrawn from the market for several years and for some reason, it came back up for sale about two days ago. And like a lot of agents, one real estate agent saw the price and picture (both were very nice), and probably without even stepping foot on the property, scheduled a showing for one his buyers.
This property had a listing agent with no contact info. That struck me as odd. Sometimes, an agent sneaks in without contact info by setting up online, but it’s pretty rare. In fact, it’s extremely rare for an agent like that to list a home (and due to our company police, it should’ve been impossible). Although, it does happen with listings that have been in our system since the beginning, much like this one. The listing made me hesitate, but when you have to make about 400 calls a day, you can’t hesitate for long on anything. I checked the contacts list and there was one choice. It didn’t have a name and just said “Home”. This is not as rare. Whether it’s bad work ethic on our behalf, or a homeowner who wants to remain anonymous, it ends up that a lot of tenants and sellers don’t list their names.
I phoned the “Home” number for the house and it rang and rang. After about 10 rings, I was ready to hang up and mark it as a “Did not Answer,” but something picked up on the other line. It was an automated voice. I hate those more than nearly any annoying seller. They take forever and they’re so loud and robotic — just a pet peeve of mine, I guess.
“Hello. No one is available right now to take your call. Please leave message for…”, the automated voice drawled out the long phone number, as I motioned my hand in a hurried manner, like I could somehow speed it up through my impatience.
Once the beep sounded, I began my usual spiel.
“Hi, this is Wayne with [company redacted], I’m calling about your home on [address redacted]. I have an agent named [name redacted] who would like to show your home to a buyer today at…”
I was cut off. The phone clicked and I could hear what I can only describe as old-timey, 30s music echoing through the home. It was accompanied by a low slapping or thumping sound. Like someone was dancing very slowly and loudly by themselves. The sounds were soon accompanied by a heavy and anxious breathing right up against the phone on the other end.
“Hello, is this the homeowner for [address redacted]?”, I asked, already getting the creeps.
There was a chuckle and snort through the heavy breathing, then more more music, slapping, and heaving. I could tell it was a man — a heavyset man.
“Hello, sir?” I asked again.
“Yeah,” a raspy voice replied. Then nothing else aside from that disgusting breath gurgling up and down.
“Yes sir, I have a [name redacted] that would like to show your home between 12 and 1 today, would that be possible?” I asked, running through the words.
“They got buyers with ’em?” the voice asked.
Well, no shit, I thought, but didn’t say.
“Yes sir —”
“How many?” he interrupted.
“I’m not sure, sir. At least one,” I answered. His question caught me a bit off-guard. I’d never had a seller ask me that before.
He grumbled for a minute, and I could swear I heard someone scream bloody murder from somewhere in the apparently large house. I wanted to pretend it was part of the song, but there had been no vocals up to that point. And the scream wasn’t exactly melodic. The slapping stopped and I started to suspect that it had never been slapping to begin with, but maybe chopping. I shuddered and then he spoke.
“Well, alright. Send ’em over. We’ll entertain some new guests,” he said, laughing heartily. I could hear the phlegm in his throat. He hung up before I had a chance to say anything else.
Somehow, I felt slimy, but, he gave me approval, and I was glad to be done with the call. I scheduled the appointment and went to the next call. A few calls went by and I had completely forgotten about the whole thing. I just absorbed myself in my mind-numbing work, powering through my day.
It wasn’t until about three hours later that I got a call from a home owner. They had been called earlier for a showing and the agent never showed up. I pulled up their information, and as soon as I saw the agent’s name, chills went down my spine. It was the same agent that was scheduled to show the house on the farm road. I pulled the agent’s profile up on my screen. I wasn’t even paying attention to the complaints of the homeowner on the line. I saw the angry client’s appointment was supposed to be the next one on his schedule, but the agent was a no-show. Oh my god, I thought. He never showed after going to that house on the farm road.
I rushed the angry home owner off the phone with whatever bullshit customer service response my brain manufactured. I don’t even remember what I said. I tried calling the agent, but he didn’t answer. It went straight to voicemail. With real estate agents, that’s pretty common, but this time it was…unnerving. I called his office, under the guise of getting approval for an open house on one of his listings. Usually a sure fire way to skip through the lies of “He’s not in the office right now,” or “He’s currently with a client”. But his assistant seemed sincere when she told me he hadn’t returned to the office today, and that he wasn’t currently answering his cell phone. She even seemed a little worried, as though this wasn’t normal for him.
I tried to reassure myself that it was fine. It’s quite regular for agents to just not answer their phones for days at a time. I pushed the weird and dark thoughts from my mind and went about my day. But like a fly that won’t stop buzzing around your face, the thought just wouldn’t leave my mind. The sound of the screaming, the odd old music, and the heaving, grunting man who seemed all too happy for visitors. What the hell did I send those people into?