The dream had been wonderful, yet it would never be real. All property already let. Already sold. Already gone.
"Renting or buying?" The neat young executive type, sipping his coffee next to me, pointed at the property paper. I'd been looking for 6 months and it was killing me.
"It's murder." I shifted to give him space to sit, and sighed. "I own a small shit hole I've got to get out of. You an Estate Agent?"
"No, but these guys will get you somewhere to rest your bones…" My gaze followed his finger to a small ad tucked under one of those token stories the free papers sprinkled among classifieds, this one about a spate of suicides definitely not being linked to a housing charity.
'Tired of the Postcode Lottery? The Property Roulette! We guarantee 83.333% success in placing you in your dream home. NO fee'
"I'm Ben. Let me introduce you. They only work on personal recommendation."
A quick cab ride later and we were at the Property Roulette offices and we were buzzed into a room filled by a petite businessman who smiled up at Ben. The Property Roulette rep, whose badge read ‘Steve’ asked "Has, er, Ben explained how we work?"
"Not really, but I'm going to find a better place, or die trying!" I tapped an envelope containing all the usual needed documents. You never knew when you'd find that killer place!
"That's what we like to hear," he winked at Ben, "and I'm assuming you're stuck on that bottom rung. It's just not being able to find somewhere before it's gone. Well, we're here to help."
Two days later I was standing in possibly the best apartment I'd ever seen. It was spotless with plastic sheet everywhere. Left by decorators? ‘Steve’ was apologetic. "It was a bit of a mess,” he shrugged, “Previous owner… Now have you brought your existing deeds, etc?"
I nodded. "This place is really for me? No fee!" Steve nodded then shook his head appropriately. "Ben has agreed to meet us to be your witness. Your second."
"You understand you have to sign your old property over to Homes4Less, a local housing association, for reallocation, so long as you pass the suitability check. Yes?" Steve smiled. I signed. Ben witnessed.
Steve smiled again and opened his case. "This will only take a minute." Inside were two revolvers. One he gave Ben, the other he handed to me. "What? What's this?"
"This is your suitability check."