By Teresa G. D’vall
Stephen King once compared the short story to a kiss, brief, yet intimate and sometimes more memorable than reading a good novel, which he described as an affair. If you’re a Constant Reader, you know what Introduction he wrote that in, and may recognize the first name of the main character in this short story. I chose to borrow it because mine ends with a kiss.
Real Estate Brokers are essentially salespeople with a license to embellish and as you know, Merriam-Webster defines the word salesperson as ‘fabricator of truth.’ Not really, but I’m using my license, the poetic one, to illustrate the fact there is good and bad in all professions. Selling your house and a business concurrently is an emotional process that requires trusting your agent will never do anything wrong to you and certainly not steal your cookie jar, but Wyatt Colman did both. Anyone who’s been lied to understands that broken trust can take longer to heal than a broken heart so allowing an agent to be your friend is not something you should try. Of course, all real estate agents aren’t liars, just the unscrupulous ones, and those who routinely text you after midnight then deny it afterwards.
Entering into the covenant of friendship can be fun but placing your faith in another person, or Wyatt Colman, is risky. I suggest you safeguard yourself against the pitfalls of friendship and distrust everyone now. A failed friendship can leave a lasting impression on the soul and not the kind you want to remember.
Wyatt Colman was my Realtor for nearly a decade and a shameless prevaricator who claimed he could change a diaper in 9 seconds. He spoke fluent cat (sppsppspp), was prone to injury and that red spot you get in your eye from strain. Always a complainer, Wyatt falsely accused his fish, Salmon, of being a bad hugger, poor dinner company and fond of red wine. Even though he was tall enough to change my light bulbs by raising his hand; bugs scared him. Wyatt Colman was also a race car driver, a bartender, enjoyed pot roast, watching Lost in Space on Sunday nights, and the company of a Tito’s Martini.
Hapless, yet well-intentioned, he spent over 7 years alternately trying to find me a new house, sell my old one, or my business but never succeeded. This is probably because I never saw one listing agreement or a signed purchase contract, even though he showed me over 100 properties and, presumably, wrote offers on at least a dozen. I simply took him at his word, which he later revealed wasn’t worth the paper my offers were never written on. Real Estate may have been his chosen profession, but he was much better at making me laugh when nothing about my day was funny than securing a place to live. His name wasn’t really Wyatt Colman either, but Wyatt has two t’s, which is only pertinent to me and Not Really Wyatt. Mostly me. Besides, I don’t want to embarrass the guy.
Not Really Wyatt declared we were friends by text one afternoon while my hands were full of partially made meatloaf. I was trying to leave an abusive marriage then and didn’t really have time to respond but did anyway because it’s not often you receive a text from your real estate agent’s pet. It read:
“Salmon says hello.”
An afternoon spent debating the merits of cats versus fish as affectionate companions generally does not involve real estate but Wyatt was funny and laughing wasn’t something I did much with a husband who worked tirelessly at scaring all of us.
Until his fish started texting me, I rarely gave Not Really Wyatt a second thought. Raising six kids on no budget at all leaves few spare moments for a stressed out Realtor who needed me to remind him what property we were seeing on any given day. He was persistent though, kept nagging me about moving out, locking my bedroom door at night and deleting his texts so my husband wouldn’t kick his ass. I didn’t need Not Really Wyatt to tell me I was in an abusive relationship. Any survivor of abuse can pinpoint, with clarity, the moment they were first threatened.
The decision to leave is made over time and not one you embark upon because your Realtor decides he wants to be your ‘friend’. Getting out is what I needed help with and Wyatt promised he’d do that, in between instructing me to ‘sleep well’ every time the clock struck 12:20 am. A creature of habit, Not Really Wyatt often stayed up later than me but always said good night before bed. Consequently, I had to sleep with my cell phone under a pillow the last few weeks of my marriage.
Wyatt Colman was the worst best friend I ever had; and a bad kisser. Although he did help me leave, he didn’t stick around for the aftermath, which was explosive. He abandoned me when I needed his support most and never offered an explanation. Instead, I fought all the battles he promised to fight with me, alone. Friendships don’t usually start with a text, or end with the words: ‘The last thing I need is to be seen leaving here with a bottle of Vodka!’ but ours did; mostly because Not Really Wyatt was not really a friend.
Friends don’t ask you to wear a hula hoop so they can watch, stare at your legs when they think you’re not paying attention or nickname you feral bobcat. They don’t leave voicemail about being in jail that only the two of you understand, text at 8:14 am to say good morning or late at night to confess they’ve accidentally thrown their air conditioner onto the streets of Warwick. A friend doesn’t suggest you go outside and admire the sunset because it’s particularly beautiful, then send you pictures of it. Buddies don’t drunk text after midnight to proclaim they like long hair and nails or that you’re funny. And pretty. Pals don’t spend two hours texting molly screw directions then disclaim them as being given while ‘Tito’s upped’ and suggest you come by to be shown instead. Most of all, a friend doesn’t randomly acquire amnesia and forget he did all those things, then tell anyone who’ll listen you were just his client.
Sometimes Realtors hurt you and there is nothing you can do but feel bad until enough time passes that it doesn’t matter anymore. The last promise Wyatt Colman broke was the one in which he swore he’d text me the name of his plumber so I could get the heat working again because he couldn’t. Then he kissed my cheek, softly, as he always did when visiting to make household repairs or drop a door on his foot and said I’d see him again. I never did get that text.
I spent more nights wondering what exactly went on between us than I did anything else the last 22 months. Even after we stopped seeing each other as friends regularly, he continued to offer me advice and support but in sporadic intervals that were more confusing than helpful.
The last text Not Really Wyatt ever sent me read:
“I’m not mad, never was mad. I can’t put all this in writing now, but I will.”
I wasted a lot of time waiting for Wyatt Colman to put ‘all this’ in writing.
Self help articles about mending a broken heart abound but few writers pontificate on healing a broken promise. Common sense dictates a cheating partner is not one worth holding onto but forgetting a promise breaking friend is more complicated, especially when you were more than amigos but less than lovers.
So how do you get over nothing?
Start reading Stephen King again, even if its been 25 years since you last tried. And follow the advice he gives you in the Introduction to Skeleton Crew because it’s true. Writing keeps you from feeling bad; it heals a broken soul.