My aunt, Dimple Snodgrass, is a real estate agent. She drives a cream-colored Lexus—the hybrid model because we all have to do our part.
She’s a real go-getter, the top producer in her office. Her motto: “Keep It Simple With Dimple!”
The Lexus glides into an empty spot on top of a two-story parking garage. The garage is in Preston Center, an oasis of offices and stores in North Dallas surrounded by expensive homes, many of which have sold because of Dimple’s effective marketing campaigns and her willingness to stab a colleague in the back.
She exits the car in a haze of White Shoulders perfume, her platinum hair teased up high and wide.
“Hello, Charlie,” she says. “How long has it been?”
“Howdy, Aunt Dimple.” I force a smile on my face. She’s family and all, but I don’t much care for her.
“Been meaning to have you over for dinner,” she says. “Work’s been crazy. I’m bouncing around like popcorn in a hot skillet.”
Aunt Dimple has never had me over for dinner. She only calls when she needs my special skills.
I guess you could call me a clairvoyant. Every now and then, if the conditions are right, I sense things that other people can’t. Supposedly my grandfather, who died before I was born, had the same condition. No one else in the family does. Maybe it skips a generation, though I had an uncle who once claimed he saw into the future after listening to a Ray Wylie Hubbard CD while tripping on peyote.
Sometimes it’s just a color, like what the psychics call an aura. Other times it’s an image that might or might not make sense. Right before she broke up with me, my last girlfriend looked like a pair of Florsheim shoes, black wingtips polished to a high gloss.
You might think the Florsheims had something to do with whoever she was leaving me for. But after she dumped me, she swore off romantic entanglements and was killed three days later by a drunk soccer mom in an Escalade. The soccer mom was wearing Manolo Blahniks.
Aunt Dimple points to a row of dingy one-story buildings next to the parking garage. “Look out there, Charlie. What do you see?”
I can see a sandwich shop and a nail salon that advertises half-price pedicures on Tuesdays. I’m not a businessperson, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t what she’s talking about.
“What am I supposed to see?” I ask.
“Opportunity, Charlie. A land play. Those buildings need to be torn down for new development.”
Keep It Simple, With Dimple!
I try to get a read on Aunt Dimple. Nothing comes through except the color yellow, which might be related to the St. John knit suit she’s wearing.
“Problem is, the guy in the middle.” She jabs a finger toward a narrow storefront. “If he won’t sell, that screws up this whole deal I’ve put together.”
The storefront is tiny, older than the others, barely as wide as Aunt Dimple’s Lexus.
A sign on the door reads “Marco’s Shoe Repair—Your Quality Cobbler Since 1971.”
“Marco is Albanian,” she says, “so he doesn’t want to sell.”
“What does being Albanian have to do with not wanting to sell?”
“They are a hardheaded people, Charlie.” She sounds testy. “Look it up sometime.”
In my mind, Aunt Dimple now looks like a hammer, which seems pretty self-explanatory.
“I need you to get a read on Marco,” she says. “Find out what buttons to push. I got to make this deal happen.”
Marco is in his 80s. He’s also dead, lying on his back behind the counter, hands clutching his chest.
The room, which smells of leather and neatsfoot oil, feels peaceful. In my mind, I see tranquility. A freshly mown lawn, a stack of books, blue clouds. Marco was a good man.
I text Aunt Dimple the news.
Then I see the papers on the counter, a contract of sale. I flip through the pages to the last one where Marco has signed his name next to Aunt Dimple’s. Without knowing why, I stuff the contract in my pocket.
Twenty seconds later she barges in. She sees the body, and the tranquility disappears, replaced by a possum with red eyes.
“Tootie-fruity!” She stamps her foot. “This effs up everything.”
“It’s just money, Aunt Dimple.”
“Just. Money.” She glares at me.
“Don’t you have enough already?”
“It ain’t about the money, you freak. It’s about winni—” She sniffs the air. Confused. “What is that?”
I don’t reply, nervous all of a sudden.
She stares at me. “When I was a child, I used to have the same gift as you. It went away … mostly.”
The contract in my pocket feels hot.
She peers at Marco’s corpse. “That Albanian so-and-so lied to me. He was gonna sell to someone else.”
The smell of leather becomes overpowering.
“What do you think, Charlie?”
I nod, and just like that I can’t smell anything anymore, not even neatsfoot oil. I feel relieved, peaceful almost.
“Let’s leave,” she says. “We need to call 9-1-1.”
I follow her outside.
“Soon as things settle down, you’re coming over for dinner.” She pulls out her phone.
“That’d be nice.” I touch my pocket where the contract is, but it’s gone. I wonder if it was ever there.