When the estate agent arrived I was asleep. I thought about not letting them in. They knocked on the door three times. But I knew that my brother would be pissed if I did not let them in. So I went downstairs and opened the door.
‘Wrong house,’ I said, ‘sorry.’
The estate agent was tall and thin and young. Maybe younger than me. He was wearing a suit. His car was parked where the boy and girl’s car was parked before. Inside, the television said: a combined formula of seventeen ingredients designed to combat ageing in normal skin.
‘Hi,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry if I’m disturbing you. I am from Barnard Marcus.’
I didn’t say anything for a long time.
‘For the valuation,’ he said.
‘I do not know any Marcuses,’ I said.
‘That is the company name. That is not my name.’
‘I think you have the wrong address,’ I said.
‘No,’ he said. ‘I have the right address.’
Inside I followed him while he walked around the house. He valued the downstairs first. He had a small iPad which he used to take photographs and tap information into. In the living room he knelt down and touched a small electronic box against the skirting board. Something lit up red on his electronic box.
‘What’s that mean?’ I said.
‘This measures water levels in walls. Damp.’
‘Right,’ I said, ‘damp.’
We walked into the kitchen. It smelt more of tobacco and cannabis smoke than the rest of the house. There were ashtrays and empty alcohol containers on the counters. Small spillages. He didn’t notice, or pretended not to notice. I got a cold beer out of the expensive fridge.
‘You want a beer?’ I said.
‘No, thanks,’ he said.
‘Do people get the fridge when they buy a house? Or do you have to bring your own fridge?’
‘Usually people will bring their own fridge,’ he said.
‘This is an expensive fridge. Write that down. Write “expensive fridge”,’ I said.
‘I am not going to write that,’ he said.
‘You know there’s a housing crisis?’ I said.
He didn’t say anything. He just took more photos on the iPad.
‘This could be a bedroom,’ he said, in my father’s study. I had barely been in there. It was dark because the curtains were closed. There were piles of papers and an empty ashtray on his large dark wood desk.
We went upstairs.
My parents had converted my brother’s bedroom into my mother’s study. They’d left my bedroom as-was. I never knew if I should be offended about that or pleased about it. Probably they didn’t think about it the way I thought about it.
‘This is your bedroom?’ he said, in my bedroom.
‘What’s it to you?’ I said, in a Mafiosa voice.
‘Nothing,’ I said, and took a long drink from the beer.
‘And there’s a third floor?’ he said.
‘No,’ I said, ‘no third floor.’
‘I saw the stairs,’ he said.
‘So why’d you ask?’ I said.
‘Look,’ he said, ‘I know selling a house is an emotional time. Especially if it was your childhood home.’ He gestured around the bedroom.
‘So what?’ I said.
‘But you need to let me do my job,’ he said.
‘Do your job,’ I said, ‘you fucking parasite.’
‘What the fuck?’ my brother said later, on the phone. ‘Seriously. What the fuck?’
‘He hit me first,’ I said.
‘He said you did not hit him at all,’ said my brother. ‘He said you missed.’
‘Bullshit,’ I said. My head hurt from hitting the wall and then the floor when I fell. ‘I got a couple of good ones in. In the melee.’
‘And he said the house was not clean,’ said my brother’s wife, who was on the phone too somehow. ‘Fucking Jesus,’ she said. ‘Fucking Jesus. I am so angry. What the fuck have you been doing this whole time?’
‘He hit me first,’ I said. ‘We should sue them. We should sue Marcus.’
‘They should sue us. They should sue you. Jesus fucking Christ. We are going to have to find another estate agent.’
‘Oh, no,’ I said.
‘What the fuck have you been doing this whole time?’ she said.