Ok, so here's some back story 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 to show homes for them, and I call home owners, tenants, and listing agents to get approval to show their homes. It's a pretty monotanous job, but it pays well enough, and I get to sit down instead of be on my feet for 8 hours. Sometimes though, the monotony is broken by some pretty odd or interesting home owners. 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 is not one of those instances.
My day started out fine enough. Aside from an intensely humid walk to work, I was feeling pretty good. As hot as it was, it looked bright and colorful everywhere, and I was in a pretty good mood. Sat down, stuffed a meal bar down my throat, and started making calls. About an hour into my work day, I came across an appoinment for a listing here in Texas. It was for a house on a farm road, and the price was pretty high for that market. It'd been withdrawn from the market for years and it had only just come back up for sale about two days ago.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 going out there, scheduled a showing for one his buyers.
This property had a listing agent with no contact info. That already struck me as odd. Sometimes, an agent sneaks in without contact info by setting up online, but it's pretty rare. It's extremely rare for an agent like that to list a home. It should actually be impossible due to our company policy, but it happens. Usually only on listings that have been in our system since the beginning, much like this one. It made me hesitate, but when you have to make about 400 calls a day, you don't hesitate for long on anything. I checked the contacts list and there was one choice. It didn't have a name. Just said "Home". This is not as rare. Whether it's bad work ethic on our behalf, or a home owner who wants to remain annonymous, a lot of tenants and sellers don't list their names. I didn't think too much of it, and went to make the call.
I phoned the "Home" number for the house and it rang and rang. After about ten rings, I was ready to hang up and mark it as a "Did not Answer", but then I got the machine. It was the generic automated voice that answered. I hate those more than nearly any annoying seller. They take forever and they're so loud and robotic. Just a pet peev I guess.
"Hello. No one is available right now to take your call. Please leave message for ...", the automated voice drolled 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 shpeel, "Hi, this is Wayne with (my company), I'm calling about your home on (the address). I have an agent named (showing agent) who would like to show your home to a buyer today at--".
I was cut off. The phone clicked and I could instantly hear what I can only describe as old-timey, 30's music echoing through the home. It was accompied 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)?", I asked, already getting the creeps.
There was a chuckle and snort through the heavy breathing, then just more music, slapping, and heaving. I could tell it was a man's voice. Sounded like a big man.
"Hello, sir?", I asked again.
"Yeah.", A raspy voice said. Then nothing else aside from that disgusting breath gurgling up and down.
"Yes sir, I have a (agent) 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 almost interrupted me.
"I'm not sure, sir. At least one.", I answered. It 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 laughed heartily and I could hear the phlegm in his throat. He hung up before I had a chance to say anything else.
I felt slimy, somehow. But, he gave me approval, and I was glad to be done with the call. I approved 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 3 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, I got a chill up my spine. It was the same agent that had shown the house with the music and the screaming. I pulled his profile up on my screen. I wasn't even paying attention to the complaints of the home owner on the line. I saw that this appointment was the next on his schedule, and it had been past the showing time for an hour. 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?