Please enjoy this scene from the comic mystery novel RED HOT LIBERTY. Real estate agent Molly O'Malley and her New Age clients, Leah and Charles Wacker, are being sued for discrimination. Liz is Molly's attorney. The Ahmeds are the plaintiffs.
Molly smiled politely at everyone in the room, but no one seemed pleased to see her. She got the distinct impression that they all blamed her for the situation, but then she hoped it was just her imagination working overtime.
William Cowan chose Leah to be deposed first. The court reporter swore her in. She was asked preliminary questions establishing her identity, given basic protocol instructions, and then the questioning began in earnest.
"Did you refuse to sell your house at 121 Wildflower Lane to Mr. and Mrs. Ahmed because they are Muslims?" Mr. Cowan asked.
"Of course not," Leah said.
"Why 'of course not?' What would make anyone think otherwise? Their offer was better than the one you accepted. What other reason would there be?"
Leah fiddled with her peace sign necklace. "There were several reasons. For each contract we received, I added the numbers of the buyers' names to the dates of their respective contracts and the amount of money they were offering. I chose the other offer because their number was a four and the Ahmed's number was a six."
Mr. Cowan blinked.
Leah sighed. "Four is a more auspicious number for a home sale. It's solid. Six is unsteady. A four contract is more likely to close and not experience delays or problems. Don't you know your numerology?"
Mr. Cowan shook his head. "Seriously? You're being serious here?"
"Of course I am."
Mr. Cowan shook his head again. "But you would have made significantly more money with the Ahmed's contract. It's irrational that you wouldn't have accepted it."
"My wife is as rational as they come," Charles said. "She's a psychologist."
Liz leaned forward. "Mr. Wacker, I realize I'm not your attorney, but I should advise you that you're not permitted to interrupt another's deposition."
Charles glared at her. "You're right, you're not my attorney."
Properly chastised, Liz sat back in her seat.
"And what did your real estate broker, Molly O'Malley, advise you in this situation?"
"She told me to trust my judgment."
Mr. Cowan looked at Molly. "Seriously? She told you to base your decision on numerology?"
Molly started to speak up in her own defense, but Liz placed a hand on her arm.
Leah sneered. "She didn't say to base my decision on numerology. I don't think she knows what it is either. How you two can presume to advise people on contracts without understanding the basics of numerology, I'll just never know. It's scandalous."
"When she presented the offers to you, did Ms. O'Malley advise you not to discriminate against the Ahmeds?" Mr. Cowan asked Leah.
"When we listed the house she told us we couldn't discriminate. She didn't need to tell us again. We're not idiots."
Mr. Cowan's expression did not appear to agree with that assessment. "Did Ms. O'Malley suggest you take the other offer because those buyers were also her clients and she would make more money in that scenario?"
"Mrs. Wacker, you said earlier there were several reasons you didn't sell the house to the Ahmeds," Mr. Cowan said. "Would you please elaborate?"
"Well, I did use my pendulum over each contract. The pendulum gave me a 'no' signal over the one the Ahmeds submitted. The Hoyts' offer received an enthusiastic 'yes.'"
Mr. Cowan smirked. "Your pendulum?"
"Yes, it's a very nice one made of rose quartz crystal. His name is Rock Hudson. He's never steered me wrong."
Mr. Cowan snorted. "Your pendulum is named Rock Hudson?"
"Yes. He's quite handsome, but I do think he's gay so I always have to take that into account when he responds to my questions."
Mr. Cowan emitted a sharp chuckle, which quickly morphed into a giant belly laugh that shook the conference table. Finally, when he could catch his breath, he said, "You're going for an insanity defense here, aren't you?"
"How dare you, sir!" Leah said. "I'm a psychologist."
Charles glared at Liz. "Aren't you going to tell him to be more respectful to my wife?"
Liz shrugged. "I'm not your attorney in this matter, Mr. Wacker."
Mr. Cowan collected himself, took a drink of water, and managed to continue. "I see, well. So, back to the day that the Ahmeds looked at your home. You made a comment to Mrs. Ahmed about how her burka didn't allow her chi to flow. Would you please explain that?"
"Burkas are so bulky and all-encompassing," Leah said. "The chi, a person's lifeforce, is restricted by such garments. It's not healthy. I was just trying to be helpful."
"And how do you presume to know this, Mrs. Wacker?" Mr. Cowan asked.
"Well, I was an Arab woman in a past life and wore burkas. I remember what it felt like. Most unhealthy."
Mr. Cowan leaned forward. "Excuse me?"
"In one of my past lives, I was an Arab woman named Yasmin. I lived in Persia—what is now called Iran. I was married to a man named Omar. We had three sons and two daughters. We were a happy family, but I wasn't very healthy at all. I died young. I think it was because I wore a burka all my life."
Mr. and Mrs. Ahmed looked at her with alarm. Mr. Ahmed scrunched down in his seat and tapped his temple.
Mr. Cowan had no response and everyone sat in uncomfortable silence for a long time.
Finally, Mr. Cowan asked, "Because of your past life as a Persian are you prejudiced against people of Arab descent or the Islamic faith?"
"Of course not! I just told you I was very happy as Yasmin. The Ahmeds here could even be my direct descendants."
Mrs. Ahmed squeaked.
"Is there any class of people for whom you do hold a negative bias?"
"Republicans. Would never have sold my house to a Republican."
Despite herself, Molly grinned. Republicans were not a federally protected class. Yes, there really was a God after all.