The first person who comes to view the house doesn’t even try to hide it. I open the front door and he says, so this is where it happened? I say, are you looking to buy, sir? He laughs, are you kidding me, and I politely show him the door.
The next one is a little more subtle. It’s a couple, too young – clearly the place is out of their price range – but they ask all the right questions until we get to the upstairs bathroom. Then the boy whispers, I heard it was in here, and his girlfriend clasps his arm, are you sure? They turn to look at me, and I show them out.
After that I get everyone: a family with a son taking a selfie in every room; a girl who thinks she can go in but bottles it on the doorstep; a middle-aged man who turns up with a video camera; a freak who I catch about to have a wank in the downstairs toilet; a twenty-something who decides to etch his name into a closet; a couple that try to steal a wall-fitting; a graffiti-artist in the master bedroom; an old man with a Swiss Army Knife who takes chunks out of the skirting board in the spare bedroom.
I say to my boss, that place is never going to sell. Even if someone knocks it down and builds on top of it, no one’ll want to live there. She says, give it time. I ask her to give it to another agent at least. She says no.
Eventually, the freak show peters out. I get no one coming to view. No calls, or emails. We take the photo of the house down from the office window. I go back to selling anonymous houses. I forget about it. It’s the only house I don’t offload, but I don’t care.
Then one day we get a call. My boss phones me – I’m out showing a couple around a decent little bungalow – and when I finish I head to the house. My boss says someone’s there, they’d noticed the sign up and decided to give us a call, could you send someone over?
When I arrive it takes me a minute to find the keys. Then I get out the car. The man who called is on the porch looking through the windows. I say, hello, tell him my name and he tells me his. We shake hands. A smile passes between us.
He tells me he’d been visiting his elderly mother nearby and was thinking of moving to the area to be closer to her. He saw the house, and, well, you know. I say, sure, and open the door. He seems normal enough.
We go in. I show him the living room first, and he asks about the fireplace and laughs at the garish carpet. We go through to the dining room, and he asks whether it would be possible to add a conservatory where the French doors are. I say I’ll look into it. In the kitchen, he says something about potential and that it would need a refit. In the bedrooms, he admires the space and light. He likes the size of the bathroom, but not the design.
When we are back downstairs we pause for a moment in the hall. The man looks up at the ceiling and asks what the house is going for. I tell him. He nods, cheap. Then: such a pity it’ll never sell, though. I looked at him, sir? He says, well, you know, what with the murder and everything. I sigh, another one. I thought they’d all moved on.
The man looks down at me, another one? What do you mean? I tell him about the freak show. He shakes his head and I say, do you want to see where it happened too? The man smiles, no need. I already know.