Fiction

Save it or Sell it

“Whoooa! Look at this place, it’s a mess! You’re going to have a hard time making them stay here.”

“Puh-lease! Just take down that wall, some new paint, some new lights, it’ll be beautiful!”

“…Okay, and cut!”

The TV personality and home renovation hosts Glenn Cheshire and Shelly Dane walked away from each other immediately after the filming stopped. The crew was filming the episode’s setup, examining the client’s house and assessing the situation.

The series, Save it or Sell it, was into it’s seventh season and over the course of those seven years Glenn and Shelly still hated each other. They tested well as an ensemble. Onscreen they had a playful rivalry. Offscreen they shouted and swore and occasionally threw punches.

Glenn dropped into his chair as they set up for the next shooting in the basement. His makeup girl checked his hair and his face. He was frowning, but she was too nervous to say anything.

“Unbelievable. That fucking bitch, did you hear her? ‘Puh-leeeeease,’ Jesus she makes me sick.”

Not wanting to be rude to either hosts, the girl said “You were right about this place, it is a mess, haha.” She laughed nervously.

“Right?? Fuck me. Anything she does will make this piece of shit look even shittier in comparison. Fuuuck, I’m gonna lose.”

“Um, well, the list to move seems pretty easy.”

“They never move. FUCKING IDIOTS.” He stomped at the ground and swore.

On the other side of the house, Shelly was enjoying herself immensely. She was on the phone with the show’s go-to contractor, Nick.

“It’ll be cake. Cake! This is in the fucking bag! You should see this place, even basic improvements will change everything. Fuck they better give me a good budget.”

“What are we working with?”

“Mid-century home, two stories and a basement, unfinished. There’s gonna be asbestos obviously.”

“Okay shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Oh, and they want to redo their porch.”

“Goddamnit.”

Shelly cackled as she hung up. She didn’t give a shit what problems or gripes Nick would have, they were going to win this one. She would be up by six against Glenn and everything would be right in the world.

~

Save it or Sell it only had one camera crew. Considering the content of the show, it wasn’t necessary to have more than one. They could schedule a real estate showing one day and check in with the construction on another. It worked well and rarely collided. The drama that was edited into the show – termites, rotting wood, beams not up to code – was true, but they never rushed to the scene.

One week into the filming of the episode, the crew and Glenn were on their way to meet with the clients at a showing. Glenn was with the producer, the assistant director, and his makeup assistant. The camera and lighting team where in another van with all the equipment.

Glenn was rapping the car door armrest, impatient and frustrated. The way the show worked, he would set up a series of homes and the clients would choose which to visit. Typically he presented up to seven, they chose and visited four, and three would be filmed and broadcasted. These clients were particularly bitchy. Thankfully they finally agreed to do a showing.

They were do some set-up and the clients would arrive and filming would begin. Glenn wasn’t looking forward to it. What was the point – he knew they were going to stay in their shitty house.

A phone buzzes and the producer, driving, gets the assistant director to answer.

“Hello?”

Though not on speaker, the call is still easily heard. “Uuumm, something happened in construction. You guys need to get over here.”

“What? What happened?”

“Ummm…”

“What?!”

“…They found a skeleton.”

There was a weird silence over the car until Glenn, unable to contain himself, burst out laughing.

~

At the client’s house, the whole crew stood in awkward silences amongst the torn down walls and barren ceilings. A skeleton – a real, honest-to-god, pile of bones – was crumpled between two beams with asbestos stuffed in the skulls.

The construction crew had scattered onto the lawn, Nick was keeping his distance, but staying in the room. The production crew were, for the most part, freaking out. The producer was keeping a level head, but did look a little pale. Shelly was pacing, biting her knuckles, and mumbling obscenities to herself. Glenn was grinning like a ghoul, reveling in the confusion.

“Get this on film!” He hissed to one of the camera guys.

“Okay, okay, okay.” The producer finally said, relying the room onto her. “What the hell happened here.”

“We were taking down the wall,” Nick explained, still at the edge of the room, “And, well, we found that.”

“Did you call the police?!” The producer questioned, unable to contain her volume.

Shelly answered for him, “Not yet.”

“WHAT?”

Shelly threw her hands in the air, “It would mess up the schedule!!”

Glenn eyed the same camera man, “Are you getting this??”

“Unbelievable.” The producer started shouting orders, starting with calling the police, then the clients, and finally the network.

Shelly paced and ground her teeth. Glenn was over the moon. He could tell, just by looking at her, that she was furious. Neither of them cared about the beyond-dead person not three meters away from them. He knew she knew everything was bust. The second the clients heard about this they were explode and never want to be associated with the house again. They’d come into the construction site, seen the bones, turn to him, and immediately demand a move-in ready home.

And Shelly would never recover.

Glenn could barely contain his glee.

The police arrived with sirens off and started taking witness accounts. They took photos of the bones and asked for the wall that used to cover it. In the middle of their investigation the clients arrived and, though the police appear indifferent, the crew tensed up at seeing the wife.

The wife was red in the face and stomped into her half-demolished home, her husband meekly trailing behind.

“What THE HELL is going on here?!” She saw the skeleton and recoiled, but bounced back angrier than before. “WHAT THE FUCK. That better be a FUCKING joke.” She pointed at the producer, who flinched, “This better be a FUCKING prank show!!”

“I-I-I–”

Not giving a chance to respond, the wife went after Shelly, technically the first point of contact between the show runners and her, “What. Is. Going. On. Here.”

Shelly, instantly reverting to her TV personality, approached the clients carefully, “There’s been…a mishap. But, I’ve already asked the police how long this will take and it’ll only be a couple days at the most. And of course, none of this will be filmed or broadcasted.”

“IT BETTER NOT BE FUCKING BROADCASTED.”

In a spooky show of speed, the wife spun on her heels and directed her mood at Glenn, who was absolutely ready.

“YOU. Find me a place to live by the end of the day.”

He smiled, “Of course! I completely understand. Let’s head back to where we were originally scheduled for today.”

The wife would’ve stormed out, but the police stopped her, looking for statements. Shelly was fuming, but because the clients were present she had to restrain herself.

Glenn was complete. There would be no better day, no better win. He could forever hold this up against Shelly and she would never be able to counter.

Again, he turned to the camera man and grabbed his shoulders.

Puh-lease tell me you got that.”

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