At lunch with Lute, he quipped that Lucinda’s unwanted advances and perfume nearly lost the sale.
Niles stayed until Friday morning and drove back to New York City without staying anyplace overnight. As he drove into the city, for the first time ever, he seemed as if a visitor. “This is no longer home,” he whispered.
He tapped out the code to enter his house and walked in. “There are parts of this that ain’t going to be easy,” he thought looking at a house full of good times, bad times, lonely times, but mainly just time. “It’s hard to put down a good book,” he thought.
“Twenty-five years in this place,” he thought. “Annie and me almost had a family and life here. I think the only thing that kept me here was hoping she’d come through the door. It’s good I’m going. Hope is good, it is based on reliable things. Hope is gone, now.”
That night he slept in a bed that felt strange, like sleeping in a motel. Several times he reached over for Annie, something he had not done in several years. He woke at one time in bitter tears. Finally, he moved to the living room and slept in the recliner.
Saturday morning he called a realtor, Maggie Zymanki, ‘the last name in reality.’ Cops loved her and she loved working with cops. She rang the doorbell an hour later. She carried herself very professional; helpful and knowledgeable beyond what Niles expected. Moving to her was conducted like a symphony. She spoke with drill sergeant preciseness. She guided Niles step by step through the sale, the packing, the move, settling into his next home, and even provided a name for a psychologist in the event of trauma or separation anxiety from the move.
She gathered her papers and placed them in a brief case.
“How long have you been single?” she said.
Niles looked on her with suspicion, the same as he did Captain Dave.
“I’m an older sister,” she said, “okay.”
“Ten years,” Niles said.
“The move is the best thing for you,” she said. “I’m telling you right now, don’t regret it. I’m a big sister not an agent, okay.”
“Sounds like you’ve been through this before,” Niles said.
“Not personally,” she said, “but a hundred times before.”
“Almost 15 years we were married,” Niles said. “I just can’t bring myself to get close to anyone else.”
“Than don’t,” she said. “If you do, it will end and then you become a pro at it.”
“Do you have a degree in psychology or something?” Niles quipped.
“No,” she said. “Just because you’re starting a new life don’t run out there and marry the first bar-stool Betty that comes along; be patient. And watch out for the babes in the real estate business. I work with a whole herd of ‘em. They’re all well traveled and desperate.”
“Except for you,” Niles said.
She chuckled. “Never desperate.”
She patted Niles on the hand. “Everything you need to know is in the brochure I’m leaving with you. Any questions, call.”
She stood and so did Niles.
“How long do you think it will take to sell?” Niles said.
She smiled broadly. “I got a half dozen buyers as we speak, they just don’t know it. It goes to the highest bidder.”
“You’re good,” Niles said.
“And so are you,” she said. “Now, when you settle in up there in Brewster Harbor, give me a call; real estate, love, Knicks, Yankees, Giants, or fishing makes no difference.”