Something Amiss

for sale

A pungent smell hit the real estate agent and young couple upon opening the door of the modest home. Ms. Nichols rushed through the entryway to open a window in hopes the room would air out before her customers entered. She wanted to make this sale, as no other prospective buyers had inquired about the low-end property. These folks might be her only chance.

Her sales instinct kicked in, and she tried to downplay the odor. “My, my … it’s a little stuffy in here,” she commented in her flurry to raise another window. The husband covered his nose and mouth and muttered sarcastically, “Damn, more than a little. What is that stench?” His wife elbowed his ribs and quickly shushed him.

The scene startled Nichols. Appalled the house had been left in this condition, she wished the owner had warned her. His seeming desperation to list the property apparently overshadowed its preparation. From a professional standpoint, this showing presented a worst-case scenario.

Beyond being clean, a seller should always keep the place in its most pristine condition. The staging was all wrong. Mr. Blackwell should’ve made his house as nice as possible, maybe even bake cookies or burn a candle to create a homey atmosphere. A pleasant showing experience. Maybe he was single and had no one to help him ready it for viewing.

Instead, a mystery stench overwhelmed the visitors upon their arrival. Quite a fatal mistake. If Blackwell truly wanted to sell, he had to insure all was in order before he left home. No phone call, no forewarning. Nothing.

Ms. Nichols blushed, giggled nervously, and thought to herself, “How could he miss this?” She speculated a dead mouse under the refrigerator had gone undetected.

She issued the couple to other rooms – quickly – as no one wished to prolong their exit. All three covered their noses and mouths upon re-entering the front room. The real estate agent continued to ruminate over the situation and made half-hearted apologies as they left. She saw the pair shaking their heads in disgust or confusion, she couldn’t tell which, as they got in their car and sped away.

Her own head wagged side to side in consternation at the seller’s negligence. She fanned her face and took out her phone to check her voicemail, thinking he may have left an explanatory message. She assumed this must be the first time he’d sold a home and didn’t know what to do. Surely it was inexperience or ignorance on his part.

He knew the truth. The fact of the matter was he hoped to unload the property before anyone discovered what he’d hidden under the living room floor. Blackwell recently moved the couch to cover a spot where he sawed through the hardwood and sub-flooring. He’d hastily stored his late wife’s remains there after he stabbed her to death one week prior.

Panic drove the man to act on impulse and immediately put the house on the market. Leaving in such a rush, he hadn’t considered how to cover up remnants of such an act, this being his first foray into criminal behavior.

Time was of the essence. He had to get out of town before anyone noticed his missus, a so-called homemaker, was missing. Maybe he’d sell the house “as is” and have the company simply wire him the money. Obviously, the murderer hadn’t put much thought into the consequences of his actions.

The phone in Blackwell’s pocket jingled. He saw the real estate agent’s number pop up on the read-out and thought, “Bloody hell, she’s annoying. I might just have to do something about her, too.”


The Studio 30+ prompt “he knew the truth” was originally from Kenneth. Studio30

(image: Huffington Post)


  1. Katy the last line was the clincher, and chilled me right now to my bones. I guess once you acquire a taste for murder you want more?

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