REAL ESTATE: More Fablesby Adrienne Raphel
The Frogs Desiring a King
We’re doing more restructuring, announces Jason.
Everybody, welcome back Davina. Welcome Davina back to the family.
Davina is taller than Jason already and when she stands, she adds five inches.
Davina, you’ll take the lead on our bantam market, says Jason. It’s a very hot market right now.
Better no rule than cruel rule.
The Flies & the Honey Pot
This house is everything you asked for, says Heather, and that’s not all. Mini-fridge, tall boys, Pac-Man. MAN CAVE says the sign above the wet bar.
And that’s not all, says Heather. Spiral staircase, recessed nook. Wall-to-wall carpets, sofa, BOSS BITCH pillows. WINE O’CLOCK wine glasses.
What do you love about a house, says Heather.
Ranch, says the client. A ranch, says Heather. Great choice.
No, says the client. Ranch. There’s going to be a ranch fountain at my wedding.
Heather arranges her injected face muscles and pulls her eyeballs into their sockets.
Like a chocolate fountain, adds the client. But ranch.
Do you do ranch, says the client. I’m vegan, says Heather.
Pleasure bought with pain, hurts.
The Fox & the Woodcutter
There isn’t even a parking spot, but Christine navigates the SUV in a half-moon and opens the door to the field. This could be your forever home, says Christine. The wind moves the grasses and her hair remains shellacked with a purpose, eyebrows flexed.
But it’s an empty lot, says the client.
Of course not, says Christine, and pulls a scroll from her structured black tote. I had an architect render these for you, she says.
My marble staircase, says the client. My garage, says the client. You can pick out all the finishes, says Christine.
I love that we’re right near my mama and papa, says the client. I love that for you, says Christine.
Christine clicks open the lock on her black structured tote. A flock of white doves soars up and out, arching into the wind. Black clouds whip against the sky. Her white-blond hair does not move.
Our forever home, says the client.
Your forever home, says Christine.
There is as much malice in a wink as in a word.
The Farmer & the Cranes
Six bedroom, six and a half bath. Jason is in a hard hat that’s too small and a three-piece suit but he’s traded the vest for Canada Goose. Heather is in snakeskin but sneakers.
What do you think this home needs, says Jason. A marble island, says Heather. A marble foyer. A marble fireplace. Something to warm it up.
Exactly right, says Jason. You’ve got instincts.
I’m great with starters, said Heather. That’s what I do. This will be a great starter home.
I’m thinking Davina will be the agent on this one, says Jason. But you’re so great with starter clients.
Heather dry swallows.
If words suffice not, blows must follow.
The Bat & the Weasels
I know, says Christine. I knew you knew you’d want it when you saw it with your daddy’s recipes and that perfect swing. Imagine, your porch moment.
As the sun sets over the fully finished bungalow, a flock of white doves rises from the cracked earth.
Oh, says the client. Oh, we’ve got to have this. God wouldn’t have sent up that sign if this wasn’t The One.
Yes, says Christine. I have the vials all prepared. It only takes a pinprick.
The client freezes.
Just hold up your right forefingers, says Christine. Just a drop. Just a tiny, tiny drop..
It is wise to turn circumstances to good account.
Adrienne Raphel is the author of Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can't Live Without Them (Penguin Press, 2020), and What Was It For (Rescue Press, 2017), winner of the Black Box Poetry Prize. Her
essays, poetry, and criticism appear in the New Yorker, Poetry, the New Republic, the Paris Review Daily, and other publications.