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Mark M Lichterman

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The Midnight Skulker11
By Mark M Lichterman
Posted: Saturday, October 01, 2011
Last edited: Sunday, October 02, 2011
This short story is rated "G" by the Author.
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If Mitchell’s imagination had seen the youthful sounding ‘Sophie Chin’ as the dark haired, dark eyed, slim beauty as portrayed by Nancy Kwan in the1960 movie, ‘The world of Suzi Wong’, that sure as hell wasn’t Sophie Chin.



San Diego, California

February 28, 1974

5:33 p.m.  Pacific Standard Time

Dialing the number…

Picked up on the first ring: “Century twenty-One!” A youthful voice said, “Sophie Chen.”

“Hi,” – Mrs., Miss? – “Miss Chen. You called us. This is Mitch Lipensky.”

“Mr. Lipensky! Great! I’ve been waiting for your call.”

“ ‘You’ve been waiting for my call’?” he questioned. “I didn’t even know that I was going to call until now. How do you even know that we’re here, in San Diego, at this hotel?”

Ignoring the questions, “Have you made an offer on a house yet?”

“No.  But we are working with another broker.”

“Doesn’t matter, did he… Your salesperson is a man?”


“It doesn’t matter if you’re working with another broker so long as you do not buy anything from me that he showed you first. And he didn’t show you anyplace you liked enough to make an offer on, did he?”

“Well,” begrudgingly, “there was one we liked…”


“But,” conceding, “it was more than we wanted pay at the time.”

“It’s a good thing because I’ve got your new home!”

“Excuse me!”

“Mr. Lipensky, I said that I have your new home.”

Looking at Marsha, “She says ‘she’s got our new home’!”

“Yes,” Sophie said confidently. “I know exactly what you’re looking for, about the price you want to pay, and I have it!”

 “Really? You’ve got our new home, do you?”

“Yes, I ‘really’ do!... Tell you what, my office is about fifteen minutes away. So what if I come on by now, pick you and Mrs. Lipensky up and show you your new home.”

Picking up on the continual use of the word ‘home’ as opposed to ‘house’. “Hold on a minute.” Speaking to Marsha, “She wants to pick us up in about fifteen minutes so she can,” said rather sarcastically, “show us ‘our new home’.”

“What have we got to lose, Mitchie?... But I’d like to get out of these clothes and take a quick shower, and I think you would also, so ask if she can get here in, oh, about forty-five minutes.”

“Miss Chen…”

“Call me Sophie.”

“Okay, ‘Sophie’. Mrs. Lipensky, uh, Marsha says, if it’s okay with you, to give us forty-five minutes.”

“Yes, I heard what she said… Okay if I call you ‘Mitchell’?”

Warming to Sophie Chin, “Sure: ‘Mitchell’, ‘Mitch’, ‘Mitchie; all work fine with me.”

“Thanks’, you won’t be sorry! Nothing ventured, nothing gained, huh? But I know you’re going to fall in love with this house… Tell you what; I’ll even pop for dinner for you and Mrs... Uh, ‘Marsha’ okay?”

“Yeah, we’re about the least formal people you’ve ever met, so ‘Marsha’ will do just fine.”

“Okay,” Sophie Chin said, “I’ll meet you in front at, uh, six-fifteen. Okay?”

“How’ll we know you?”

“I’ll know you!”


“Mitchell,” The door to the white ’65 Cadillac Coupe Deville opening, “Marsha!”

If Mitchell’s imagination had seen the youthful sounding ‘Sophie Chin’ as the dark haired, dark eyed, slim beauty as portrayed by Nancy Kwan in the1960 movie, ‘The world of Suzi Wong’, that sure as hell wasn’t Sophie Chin.


Surprising Marsha, “Hi!” Hugging her, then, “I’m Sophie!” She – shocking him – hugged Mitchell…


Although sounding as though in her mid-twenties, truth be told Sophie had to be, at least, into her early sixties. Height at about 5’2”, Sophie was, well, roly-poly would be a charitable description. Also, about as far from Mitchell Lipensky’s remembrance of ‘Suzi Wong’ as one can get,  as opposed to Suzi’s long, straight-hanging shiny black hair, Sophie’s hair was cut short and, as though ‘permed’, tightly curled ringlets haloed  a round, dark completed, wrinkle free Chinese face.


“Sophie, hi, we’re…”


“Yes, I know, ‘you’re glad to meet me’.” taking Marsha by the elbow, “you sit in front so we can talk.” Opening the back door for Mitchell, “I want it light enough for you to see your new neighborhood, so we’ll talk as we drive.”


A bit ‘miffed’ at Sophie’s haughty attitude, “You keep saying ‘our house’...”


“No!” Interrupting him, “No, I keep saying ‘your home’ because ‘a house is not a home’.”


“You don’t even know us, so how can you be so sure that you’ve found ‘our home’? Marsha’n’me don’t even know how in the hell you found us.”


“Okay, I’ll tell you from the beginning.” Stopping for a red light, Sophie waited until it turned green.


 “About a week ago, it was my ‘up’ for assignments coming through our ‘referral relocation department’.”


“We thought that only went to ‘Forrest Olson’. At least that’s the impression we got from the other broker.”


“I don’t know exactly where the requests go but, obviously, one did go to Forrest Olson’ and, obviously, one went to C-21.” Putting her arm out the window, the Cadillac took a left turn.


“When I received your broker’s request, considering your requirements and what you have to spend, I really didn’t know what I had to show you so I dropped the request slip into my drawer and forgot it.


Her eyes flicking to the rear view mirror, “Let me tell you something about me.” glancing at Mitchell. “I am more concerned about my clients,” she said forcefully, “than I am about myself! If I do not have a ‘home’ to show my ‘people’ I will not waste their time or mine. I don’t need the money all that badly and I’m the one that has to look at myself in the mirror each morning and each night and I flatty refuse to ‘sell’ you a house! I won’t even show a house unless I, myself think of it as my clients ‘home’ and not just a ‘house’ that I’m showing.


“Anyway, when I got this listing this morning, it rang a bell and I dug ‘you’ out of my drawer and called your agent in, uh…?”


“ ‘Schaumburg’.”


“Yes.” Glancing at Marsha, “I called your agent in Schaumburg and talked to, uh…”




“Yes.” Her eyes flicking to the image of Mitchell in the rear view mirror. “Alice and I had a long talk about you and your family and the prospects for the sale of your home there, and she thought it would probably go out pretty fast for very close to your asking…”


“It sold this afternoon.”


Really!” Patting Marsha’s knee. “I don’t even want to know what it sold for now, but that makes things even better.”


“This is how you found us; Alice told you?”


“No, Alice didn’t know where you were staying but she gave me your number at home and your…” Looking at Marsha, “mother…”




“Yes, your mother-in-law. Anyway, your mother-in-law told me where you were staying here in San Diego… Also, she told me to tell you that the kids and dog are all doing just fine.”


“Okay,” Mitchell said, “mystery solved.”


“So,” Marsha said, “tell us about ‘our new home’.”


“I’ve known the owners for years. As a matter of fact over the years they’ve bought a number of income properties through me and I’ve always admired their home…”


“The one we’re going to see now?”


“Yes. Really lovely people, I’ve known the Sawyers for close to twenty years. They own the Mercedes Benz dealership in La Jolla and, now that they’re older, they want to be closer to their dealership so they called me this morning telling me that they wanted to sell it fast, so we priced it right and I called Alice, then I called,” again glancing in the rear view mirror, “I called your mother and here we are.”


“On our way to see our new home.”


“Yes. Sometimes I can feel it, and I feel it now! You and Mitch are on the way to see your new home.”






©October 1, 2011 / Mark M. Lichterman

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Reader Reviews for "The Midnight Skulker11"

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Reviewed by Rose Rideout 10/5/2011
GREAT as usual Markie.

Your #1 Newfie Friend Hugs XOXOXO, Rose
Reviewed by Annabel Sheila 10/3/2011
Sounds like its all too easy to me....wonder what's going to happen....great writing, my friend.

Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 10/2/2011
Great story, Mark; well done as always!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Texas, Karen Lynn. :D
Reviewed by Laura Fall 10/2/2011
Wonderfully written story indeed my friend Laura

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