Chapter 10: I Must Scream

The best way to sum up the last few years of my life is as a rollercoaster ride to hell. Although I've done my best to work on the house, even if only in a limited fashion, my efforts were always cut short by the weather, health issues, or acute depression.

Meanwhile, the commercial property situation remained unresolved. I'd consulted multiple lawyers, realtors and other professionals, and they all agreed: 1) they'd never seen anything like it; 2) they're clueless how to address it; 3) it's totally legitimate. I'd even consulted a criminal lawyer, to no avail. I was legally bound by the contract and could not cancel it without immediately being sued for breach of contract. Plus, I was legally required to return every dime the buyer had advanced, no matter what.

So, in December 2017 I agreed to yet another extension, since the alternatives were far worse. Which meant nothing could happen with the house until September 2018. Or, quite possibly the following year, after yet another extension. There was no knowing anymore. Worse, there was no knowing what shape the house would be in by thenóit might be rotted beyond repair, in which case it would be all over for me, because I could never afford to rebuild it.

But it wasn't a simple matter of waiting for the closing to finally take place, because it was impossible to make it through any given month without some sort of crisis. Every time I thought things couldn't possibly get any worse, they did.

January. My monthly advance contract expired, but I couldn't renew it because both lawyers were AWOL.

February. Both lawyers were still AWOL, leaving me high and dry with a car that was in the shop almost on a weekly basis.

March. In violation of a written agreement, the buyers failed to pay the commercial property taxes. I wasn't aware of this until I received notice from a Manhattan attorney that I had thirty days to pay off $17K in overdue taxes, or else the property would be foreclosed.

April. A lien was placed on my personal property to the tune of $10K because the buyers, who had agreed to assist with them as well, once again failed to do so. To complicate matters further, my lawyer went into the hospital for a health emergency right in the middle of the crisis.

May. The thirty-day warning I'd received in March went unheeded by the buyers, and not only was a foreclosure in the works, I was named as a defendant in a lawsuit. While I'd received assurances that everything would be resolved, my confidence in anything anyone associated with this quagmire might say had dropped below zero.

June. The buyers were suddenly anxious to close, in spite of the fact that they didn't have all of their permits, and I suspect it was because they were named in the same lawsuit I was, and needed to steer clear of legal issues. But they were going to leave me responsible for mopping up the tax mess they created. I told them in no uncertain terms they had to make everything right before I'd let them have the property. Which gave them pause.

Meanwhile, I was served another summons, this one beyond outrageous, because a number of other David Smiths owing massive sums of money (up to six digits) to various businesses and agencies across the state were inexplicably rolled into the lawsuit, leaving me liable for all of their debts as well as mine. Assurances from both lawyers that everything would be fixed failed to assuage my fears.

To quote Harlan Ellison, I have no mouth and I must scream.

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