Please enjoy this scene from the comic mystery novel RED HOT LIBERTY. Molly O'Malley is a real estate agent and this is one of her more unusual closings. Jake is her boss for whom she has romantic feelings. Ted is the office's resident Trekkie. Be-in-Harmony.com is an online dating service where Brian and Shannon met.
The first item of new business for Molly was the closing scheduled for her Be-in-Harmony couple. A camera crew was scheduled to film the closing and then the wedding, which was to occur immediately afterwards. Shannon and Brian were one of Be-In-Harmony's many success stories, and the company planned to feature the couple in a series of television commercials. The fee the newlyweds were set to receive for allowing the film crew to tag along was enough for the down payment on their new love nest.
To accommodate the camera crew and equipment, the closing was held in the large conference room at Broker's Best. The happy couple arrived already decked out in wedding gown and tux. Shannon was all shiny teeth and flowing lace as she flitted about, giddy with excitement. Brian's smile was forced as he tried to maneuver in a tuxedo that was far too small for him.
Molly stood right inside the door of the conference room, waiting for everyone to arrive.
"Hi, gorgeous. I'm Dirk, the movie director."
The man who introduced himself to Molly appeared to be a teenager. He wore jeans and a tee-shirt with the famous silhouette of Alfred Hitchcock on it. His black movie crew hat was embroidered with the word DIRECTOR. Pimples peeked out from behind heavy pancake face makeup.
Molly smiled and extended her hand to shake. "Molly O'Malley, the buyers' agent."
He grabbed her hand and planted a wet kiss on it. "Ever consider a career in show biz? You've got serious oomph appeal."
It wasnít the first time a director had used that line on her. She wondered if they taught it in director's school.
One of the members of the film crew bumped into them as he carried a tall gold folding chair into the room. When he unfolded it, the black canvas back said DIRECTOR.
Dirk winked at Molly. "You just relax and flash that million dollar smile, and I'll make you a star." He swaggered over to his chair where the script girl handed him a megaphone.
"God help us," Molly mumbled.
Jake came up behind her. "How's it going?"
"I've got serious oomph appeal, and Director Dirk is going to make me a star."
Jake chuckled. "Well, at least the kid recognizes serious when he sees it." He gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze and walked away.
Much to her dismay, he took her breath with him.
Ted walked in and handed Molly one of his business cards. "Give it to the director and ask him to call me. I want to talk to him about filming my Star Trek convention."
"I have a feeling he's no Steven Spielberg."
Ted shrugged and rubbed his shaved head. "Sometimes a case can be made for style over substance. Not that I'd personally know anything about that, of course."
Molly bit her tongue and tucked his card into her suit pocket.
Finally, the closer, the listing agent, and the sellers showed up. Eager to get the entire thing over with, Molly ushered everyone in and got them seated around the big central conference table.
Molly was pleased that the listing agent had chosen her own preferred closer, Jackie, to handle the deal. Jackie was good at rolling with the punches.
Jackie laid all the paperwork out and had just begun to go over it with the buyers and sellers when Dirk's voice boomed out at them through the megaphone. "I didnít say action!"
Jackie looked up and gave him a withering glare. "Okay, well move your ass, Mr. Hollywood, because I've got another closing in an hour and we need to barrel though this one."
Dirk raised his megaphone and said, "Quiet on the set!"
Dirk gave a signal to the script girl who slapped the clapboard, and he announced, "Action!"
Jackie picked up right where she left off.
Jackie slammed the pen down on the table. "Now what?"
"Take it from the top!"
Dirk's sigh whooshed out through the megaphone. "Start at the beginning!"
"Oh, for crissakes." Jackie rolled her eyes and took a deep breath.
Dirk signaled again for the clapboard. "Action!"
Jackie began the closing at the beginning.
Ten minutes into it Dirk boomed, "Cut!"
Jackie glanced at her watch. "Now what?"
"The groom is sweating!"
"Grooms sweat. That's what they do," Jackie said.
The makeup girl scurried over with her kit and did her best to repair the beleaguered groom.
"This suit is just a little snug. Having trouble breathing," Brian said.
Shannon's smile disappeared.
The flood mopped up, the makeup girl scurried away.
"Okay! Quiet on the set! And," Dirk signaled the clapperboard, "action!"
"I ain't taking it from the top," Jackie said through clenched teeth.
"That's okay! Just pick it up where you left off!"
Molly was getting a headache. She forced a million dollar smile.
Another ten minutes into the closing, Jackie presented Brian with the official name affidavit. "This document lists all the variations of your name that our search associated with your social security number," she explained. "Brian Doyle, Brian A. Doyle, and Brian Aloysius Doyle. Please sign at the bottom acknowledging these are all you."
Huffing and puffing, Brian managed to sign the document and push it back across the table to Jackie.
Jackie presented Shannon with hers. "And this is yours. Shannon Flanagan, Shannon P. Flanagan, Shannon Penelope Flanagan, Shannon Flanagan-Henriksen, Shannon P. Flanagan-Henriksen, Shannon Penelope Flanagan-Henricksen, Shannon Flanagan-Arriola, Shannon P. Flanagan-Arriola, Shannon Penelope Flanagan-Arriola, Shannon Flanagan-Kaminskió"
Brian snatched the document out of Jackie's hand. "What's this? You've been married before? Three times? You said I was your first. You said I was your first everything. You lied to me!"
Shannon grabbed the document from his hand. "And you posted a Photoshopped picture of yourself on Be-In-Harmony that showed you to be three times smaller than you really are. That's not exactly honest, is it?"
Brian stood up. He was really sweating now. "We need to go outside and talk about this." He shook his fist at Dirk. "And don't you dare follow us out with that damn camera, either."
Shannon jumped to her feet and got tangled in her long train. "Fine!" She struggled with the dress but managed to storm out of the room on Brianís heels.
"Cut!" Dirk said.
Jackie shook her head. "The last time this happened at one of my closings, it was a lesbian couple and it turned out one had previously been married to a man. They went outside to discuss it and never returned."
Molly stomach turned over. She had worked so hard on this deal and desperately needed the income. Her bills were staggering: an eighteen hundred dollar a month office fee paid to Jake, enormous advertising costs, E&O insurance, professional membership fees, the BMW payment, and Robin's salary. Not to mention all the money she was paying her lawyer. And then, of course, her home mortgage and living expenses. No closing, no paycheck.
Jackie looked at her watch. "Well, I'm going to slip out back and have a smoke. If they don't return by the time I'm done, I've gotta leave for my next closing."
The sellers looked shell-shocked. "We'll get to keep the earnest money, right?" one of them asked.
The listing agent stood. "Let's walk over to Starbucks. I'll treat."
Everyone left the room, except for Molly and the film crew.
Molly laid her head down on the table and moaned.
"I bet with your va-va-voomness Be-In-Harmony would give you a free membership," Dirk said. "And then when you find your fairy tale ending, we could do a commercial about you."
She sat up and shook her head. "I'm not the kind of woman who is destined to live happily ever after."
"The really gorgeous women in history rarely do. Ironic, isn't it?"
Jackie reappeared. "Well, I didn't even get my cigarette lit when I saw our happy couple tearing out of here, out the back alley. Gotta get moving." She patted Molly on the back. "Tough break, kid."
"It's a wrap!" Director Dirk's megaphone announced.