Ugly Puggly 27
We’d the pole stuck in the ground, falling sideways at the front of the house with a FOR SALE sign. The latest ruse was to add the name of the company. And this one even had a picture of the guy selling the house as if he was some kind of Hollywood star. Estate agents dressed like butlers.
He was a wee guy with a fancy German car and had the slicked back hair, but that was just to cover the shiny spoon of his bald spot. Ugly Puggly was the only one of us that wasn’t nervous. He was sitting on the couch nearest the door doing calculus on scraps of paper. The playboy had his phone in his hand, but wasn’t even looking at it. We leaned forward on the edge of the couch as if we were on the first date and were ready to make a run for it.
‘I’m Jeff,’ the estate agent said. He pumped my hand up and down in a handshake. ‘Well,’ he made a point of turning his head like a globe on a spindle to observe each point of the living room, and completely looking through Ugly Puggly. ‘You’ve got a real prospect here.’
I pulled my hand out of his grip. ‘I’ve no got any prospects, pal. I work for the council.’ I pointed at Ugly Puggly. ‘That’s the guy wae prospect there.’
If I could have judge a man by his smile, I wouldn’t have been working for the council. Jeff dropped me like a dog that does a turd without squatting. Ugly Puggly looked up at him with that glazed expression. His expression was of being inconvenienced. I recognised his mind was ricocheting between sines and cosines and distances of moons and stars.
We little people, but not as little as him, could inconvenience Jeff. He rattled through his sales spiel like an ABBA- tribute belting out their greatest hits.
‘Shut the fuck up,’ said Ugly Puggly. ‘Just geez a round figure of how much I’ll get for the house.’
Jeff pressed his lips together. He looked at me and then the playboy. And then back at Ugly Puggly. ‘I’d need to do a full, independent survey.’
‘You mean you’ll need to see the rest of the house?’ I said.
‘Well, I’d need to see the exterior as well.’
‘Oh, you didn’t notice the outside when you came in? You thought maybe this was a tepee. We’d grabbed you aff the street and blindfolded yeh, before holding you to ransom?’
‘You’re not the homeowner,’ he stuck his head out like a cockerel ready to peck me.
‘Neither as you mate. Yer just a guy that sells tickets. So just cut the shite and we’ll get on alright.’
Ugly Puggly laughed. ‘Just geez a ballpark figure mate.’
‘Well, there’s a lot of factors,’ Jeff said. ‘There’s a lot of accumulate dirt and dust, for example. And that’ll push the price down.’
‘I’ve got a hoover.’ I nodded in the playboy’s direction. ‘And he can clean the windows.’
Jeff’s head dropped. ‘I think I’ll have to let another of my colleagues deal with this wonderful prospect.’
‘Maybe you should. Or maybe you should jist dae yer job.’
‘Right,’ he said. And he dropped the accent. ‘I’ll hauv a look about.’
The playboy and me gave him the tour. He stuck his head in the kitchen and actually whistled. There were good whistles and bad whistles. This was the kind of whistle that told you Lassie wasn’t going to get help. Then there were the kind of whistles that told you, she was away to have a lie down. You were on your own because you weren’t even an American, no longer a tousle-headed kid—they’d built a wall to keep people like you out.
‘That takes about seven or eight grand aff it, right away,’ he said. ‘There’s places in London that rip out brand new kitchens after three months because they’re outdated.’
‘Aye,’ I admitted. ‘This kitchen’s been here longer than me.’
Jeff glanced out the window and spluttered with laughter. ‘Whit ur we in Holland noo? Is that a fuckin windmill?’
‘It is a windmill, but known Ugly Puggly, we’ll be taking it wae us.’
‘Excuse me,’ chimed in, Dave.
‘Sorry,’ I held my hand up. ‘Howard, the homeowner, I mean.’
‘Well, whit other delights have I got to look forward tae?’ Jeff was laughing as if he was enjoying himself now.
‘I’ll show you upstairs. You’ll no need to see the toilet. It’s a shitehole, literally. If you can wade through the clothes he’s left lying about, you can see Dave’s boudoir.’
‘Shut it,’ hissed Dave. ‘At least I take a shower some time.’
‘I take a shower at work.’
‘Aye, but you’ve no been at work.’
‘Well, I don’t need to shower then, dae I? I’m no daeing anythin tae get dirty.’
‘Neither am I. But I still shower.’
‘Aye, but yer shagging everybody and their dog.’
‘Excuse me.’ Dave brushed past up and went up the stairs. We followed behind him.
‘Where you fae, anyway?’ I asked Jeff.
‘Drumchapel,’ he replied.
Dave had pulled up the blinds to let in some light and opened the window. His clothes were piled on the bed. We breathed in the foosty smell of aftershave and something sour as old socks.
‘Two bedrooms,’ I told Jeff. ‘Mine is the same, but looks out the back.’
Jeff scratched at the back of his head. ‘Any dampness or anything?’
‘Just fae him wanking,’ I replied. ‘The house doesnae look much, but it’s solid.’
‘Whit about the garden?
‘Aye, pretty big. You’ve got room for an extension.’
‘Right,’ Jeff pulled at the knot on his tie. ‘Around £80 000, I’d say.’
‘I think he was hoping for a bit mair.’
Dave sidled up beside us, flicking through his phone, holding up pictures. ‘That house sold for £120 000 and it’s not got as big a garden.’
Jeff glanced at the photo and went back into sales’ speak. ‘But if you look at the modern exterior and the kitchen and dining area.’
Dave pulled up other sets of images. ‘£110 000.’
‘Aye, but,’ Jeff said. ‘You’d need to do masses of work to get anywhere near that figure. You’ve got about 250 years of dust. People like to buy new things. Not old things. And that kitchen—’
‘I can get us a new kitchen,’ I said. ‘We might no be London, but the council takes out perfectly good kitchens aw the time. I’ll get one of the old-new ones and get Howard to fit it.’
‘Aye, but that takes time,’ replied Jeff. ‘I thought you were hoping for a quick sale. I know a guy that can pay ready cash.’