The ‘zero happened’ of activity and the silence attached to it ended with an ‘out of the blue’ cell phone call from ‘the appraiser’ hired by the estate. I know him. He knows me. We are not buddies. We are not even ‘professional associates’. I know this. He knows this. His call was indirect and scattered in content and direction. I was patient with his verbal troop movements. It became clear that he planned to ‘flank and surround’ me with estate property content ‘happening now’ chatter and then... lance me in the heart about the painting. I listened to his talk of his toy lead soldier troop movements.
He ‘had arranged’ the sale (then ‘coming soon’) of the contents of the Maine mansion. The heirs, through the executor, “are going to have a tag sale and are very pleased”. It was to be managed (for a single fixed price cost) by a professional ‘team’ who ‘run sales’. I, making no comment, did note to myself that this ‘team’ and the appraiser were very good friends. I also reminded myself that I had reported that the contents could ‘go’ as a ‘three day auction’. To my subtle “No auction?” query the appraiser blanket smothered that option by saying ‘how much the family (heirs) want to buy (“keep”) for themselves. This “depletes” the contents making an “auction too much”.
To phrase this in its actual meaning: ‘The heirs want certain things (that they probably assumed they ‘could have’ ‘for free’ but have by now found out –been told by the lawyers through the executor- they actually have to buy-at a fixed ‘value’- and ‘pay that value’ to the estate and/or deducted it from their share ...of the estate-... and: There is a real lot more stuff in the estate so instead of putting it all out in a rag-tag before the public hammer dropping ‘SOLD’ public price ...war... we will quietly have a quiet ‘estate sale’ “over a long weekend” (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) wherein what the heirs want may be purchased by them “privately” (at steep ‘tagged’ prices) and “the rest”... “sold”... by the sale managers... ‘over the weekend (that actually includes them “letting in ‘good’ (personal contacts) buyers ...as much as a week before AND that “as much as possible will be sold with the rest ‘donated’ (?) so that ...everything... will be gone and the estate empty by ...Sunday afternoon... so the real estate dealer may come on Monday... morning”. Also, reminds the appraiser, “I have nothing to do with this sale”. Come Monday morning, after using this estate content sale approach... all of the good stuff (‘it’s about the stuff’) is ...stored in a private warehouse owned by the private parties who ‘purchased’ ‘it’ ‘at the tag sale’. Of course there is a residual mound of debris - ‘stuff’ - and that was ‘cleaned out too’. In full... including the payout of the proceeds from the whole ‘tag sale’... sans the ...substantial... ‘single fixed price cost’ to the sale managers... are paid to the estate and that amount... although not that much... ‘is satisfactory’ for ‘everyone knew the stuff was not that good anyway’; “just old used stuff that no one wants”. Yes... quite a bit “had to” ‘go to the dump’. “Too”.
Since I could understand this and the appraiser knows it, he, after noting my silent response that included me not expressing interest in any of this including ‘going to’ the sale... moved right along in his chatter.
He went to the “CAMP”.
“Yes it IS VERY FAR ‘up there’ isn’t it”. “TOO BAD” about that for ‘how is anyone going to get there?” (to any sort of contents sale...there). And... ‘there really isn’t that much in there anyway that’s “worth it”. THAT was a fine appraisal term of that property’s contents and the appraiser repeatedly used the phrase “not worth it” as a blanket to smother the glowing ember of the CAMP’s 19th century Maine farm ‘wonderful’ contents. I... just sat there and listened to him prove to me using a squad or two of his toy lead soldiers to ‘show me’ ... “how” he’d “worked it out”.
The ‘worked it out’ was that the whole contents... (sans “the family’s” personal and very minor “interest” that was really only about the agreement they shared of ‘selling the tractor’ ...evidently to a very persistent local suitor... “HEY WHAT DO YOU think of that TRACTOR ANYWAY?” the appraiser asked me)... would be “bid in” “up there”. This is understood to mean that the estate will take cash-on-the-barrelhead bids for the ‘whole contents’ from regional and local parties and ...sell it to the highest bidder... and... and:
I asked after the ‘who’ ‘was bidding’ in such a way that ‘could I bid?’ was very vaguely suggested to which... he turned the light off on that saying .... “the executor will take the bids”... “you’ve already been in there FOR THEM (the estate) so PROBABLY CANNOT bid. I can’t bid either. There’s enough local interest anyway but... ‘it’s not worth it’ because” ...and his toy lead soldiers on my flanks came into sight... if I bid... so as to ‘out bid’ the ‘local interest’ I would find... upon arrival at the CAMP to ‘clean out’ my estate contents purchase... that much of the ‘wonderful’ contents that I SAW when I was up there ...was ‘no longer there’ ...in the Sherman’s-March-to-the-Sea sense. So, therefore, there is no need for me to ‘bid’ for a ‘it’s not worth it”.
“OHHHH.... we’ll GET IT... CLEANED OUT...; lot of work. Lot of JUNK. BUT: We’ll get it CLEAN OUT for you. Don’t WORRY.” would be the buyer’s summery of their ‘purchase contract’. I ...was ‘out’. I understood this. And I understood very well that if I ‘did something’ and did ‘get the contents’... very little of that contents would still be there when I ‘showed up’. THAT message was a very important part of the appraiser’s ‘indirect and scattered in content and direction’ reason for calling me.
I don’t like it but I know ‘how this stuff happens’. I could... wait quietly and keep my eye roving over the ‘up country’ ‘weekly’ auctions until I detected that ‘it’ (the CAMP contents) was ‘starting to be sold’ and ‘go after’ anything I wanted that way but... it’s probably “not worth it”.
I, after my vague allusion to I bidding on the contents, had remained quiet... to the end of the ‘fair warning’ so... the appraiser moved some of his toy soldier out of sight again and brought up another flanking line from a new direction; the Albany property. “YOU... went there. There’s NOTHING there. Right?”
“Not that I saw.” I said.
“I’m just working from photographs. I don’t see anything worth driving over there for. That’s what I’m telling them. I gave it a low number (appraised the whole contents low) and told ‘em to take care of it themselves; have a yard sale. Of course that doesn’t include the painting. WHAT do YOU think THAT’S WORTH?”