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BUT WE STINK!

"But we stink!" was what I yelled at him.

My husband wanted to drive by and show Nita and Charles the fish we'd spent all day catching. We barely knew them. We'd gone to church together for several months but had never been invited to their home. Now my husband felt he just had to "drop by."

I learned long ago that when my husband wants to do something, we do it. I spit-bathed our daughter, brimming with questions and covered in dried mud from head to toe, with tissues. I dug into my purse for some lipstick -- the best I could do to clean up my sweaty, grimy body. I was still spattered with the guts of tiny minnows that I'd been loading onto hooks all day. Was this man in his right mind? We'd certainly never be invited back, if Nita and Charles even let us in to begin with.

When we knocked on the door, it swung open immediately as if we were fully expected. "It sure didn't take you long to get here," Nita said. "I just hung up the phone with the pastor."

We didn't say anything as she ushered us into the living room. "Stay with Charles," she said, "AND PRAY while I go out to meet the ambulance."

Charles' face was ashen, but he smiled weakly. "I'm so glad you came," he whispered. "Please pray for me. I think I'm having a heart attack." My husband and I fell to our knees beside the couch where he lay and began at once to pray. Our daughter went to sit quietly in a chair beside the couch and bowed her head. The room was filled with peace, and Charles began to breathe easier.

The ambulance whisked him away; Nita followed in her truck. We were left to close up the house and head home. On the way, I shamefully offered my husband an apology for resisting his suggestion that we just "stop by."

Charles survived the heart attack, and we were invited back to their house again and again.

Stink and all, we'd been at the right place at the right time.

Mel Davenport - Cedar Hill, Texas

© 2005 Mel Davenport. All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission.

Mel Davenport is a storyteller and part-time librarian. She lives in Cedar Hill, a suburb of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Mel teaches workshops in storytelling and puppetry and shares stories with those who love to hear them. Her recent book, "My Part of the Sky, Our Battle with Alzheimer's Disease," is a collection of family stories that reflects one family's way of coping with the demon who stole two of its strongest women.

WHAT A RARE CONVERGENCE --
"JUST SOMETHING ABOUT THIS PLACE..."

In late 1993 I had my annual physical in Palo Alto, CA. The doctor told me that stress from the business I owned was eating me up. He gave me a choice:

"Bob, either of two things will probably happen: you can continue what you're doing, in which case I probably won't have you much longer as a patient, or you can choose to change course, in which case you'll probably continue with your life and your health will most likely improve."

He was right. After fourteen years the business was beginning to go sideways. I had hired a man I knew who wasn't working out, plus construction was down and so were our profits.

So I decided to take time off and have a serious look at Oregon. I had traveled through Oregon as a college student on my way to ROTC Army summer camp in Washington state and liked what I saw along the way. In fact I made a promise to return one day and examine it much more closely. The time had now come to do that.

I crisscrossed western Oregon and finally found Eugene, a city much to my liking. I decided it was a place my partner and I could embrace and grow to love in a short time. It turned out that she agreed.

Back in San Carlos, CA, my home of seventeen years, I began making plans to sell both the business and the home. The business sale went quickly, but the home unexpectedly took much longer. The house was priced right (or so I thought), and it was in a desirable part of northern California. It was definitely a seller's market, but after several months, there had been no offers.

Finally, I asked the realtor why.

"Drop your price $20,000 and you'll have offers," she said.

"Why didn't you tell me this earlier?" I asked.

"You didn't ask," was her reply.

So I followed through on her suggestion. The following Sunday a young couple rang the doorbell. They seemed unusually interested in the place, particularly the man. I showed them around, and he kept saying, "Wow, I sure feel comfortable here, sir. Just something about this place . . ." They stayed for about an hour.

On Monday my realtor called to say we had three offers. Could we meet her at her office? The next day we sat in her office, anxious to open the envelopes. I remember telling myself to take my time, make some notes and be sure to read the fine print. Two of the three offers were close in price, but the third was decidedly lower.

We heard a knock on the office door. "Pardon me," said the lady visitor. "I represent one of the prospects interested in buying your home, sir." She continued, "I know this might seem entirely irregular, but my client, Mr. W, asked if I could tell if his bid has been received favorably. Has it?"

 

I responded, "Unfortunately, your client has the lowest bid of the three. I'm sorry, but we intend to award the house to the highest bidder here this afternoon." She looked a bit downcast but then ventured, "There's a phone down the hall. I don't suppose you'd object if I called to tell my client the news? I must add that since last Sunday he just seems absolutely determined to buy your house. As a matter of fact, I don't remember ever having a client so committed. I think he might want to raise his bid. Of course he won't know by how much, you understand. Is it all right with you if I make the call?"

I looked at my realtor who seemed about as shocked as I was.

"Well," I said slowly, "I don't have an objection. Anyone else feel differently?" Dead silence. The lady thanked us and left.

 We waited a few minutes and again a knock. The lady reappeared at the door looking a bit tentative, yet strangely hopeful.

"My client decided to raise his bid by a considerable amount," she said and handed me a sealed envelope. "He just told me this most amazing story on the phone. It continues to simply blow me away. I'd like to tell it to the three of you before you open the envelope."

"Of course," I said.

"Later in the day last Sunday," she began, "my client phoned his father to tell him that he was absolutely sure he'd found the house of his dreams. His father asked where it was located."

 

Knoll Drive, Dad.

Where on Knoll Drive, Son?

777.

Oh, my God! Son, your mother and I decided to move from that home when you were three years old!

The room was absolutely silent. Because we had such a strong affection for the house, Karen and I had hesitated for days about selling it. She and I agreed we had to find the right buyer -- someone we were comfortable with -- before we could sell it. I wasn't sure, of course, but it seemed we had found him now.

The buyer's realtor said, "Now you know the rest of the story, as the newscaster on the radio says before he signs off."

"Not quite," I said. "We need to open the envelope and read his bid."

I looked around the room. Everyone was staring at the envelope.

Quickly I opened it. It was now the highest of the three bids with no exclusions and no contingencies.

"Your client has a new home," I said.

When I came out of my utter shock and disbelief, I thought, How could we have a more perfect reason than that to sell the house?

Bob Roach - Eugene, OR

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