THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
I ran into Sue Ellen of Paradise Realty at the new coffee shop in the town square the other day, and learned that although the housing market may be tanking in most of the U.S., property values are booming here in Paradise.
“Larry B! Just the man I wanted to see.”
“Always happy to see you too, Sue Ellen. What’s up?”
“My business,” she said without shifting gears. “Did you know that in the last five years real estate prices around here have tripled? You got here just in time for a bargain, Larry B.”
The idea that if Gwen the Beautiful and I put our place on the market we could make out so well was totally unexpected. But that’s what Sue Ellen was encouraging me to do: Put Cloud Creek Ranch up for sale.
“I’ve got some people from Florida who’ve already bought three properties similar to yours,” she said in that professionally confiding way realtors everywhere seem to have.
“Why’d they buy three properties?” I asked.
“They’ve got money to burn and are moving their whole family our way.”
“Why?” I wondered again.
Sue Ellen shrugged. “Does it matter? I’d love to bring them over to your place sometime this week.”
I told Sue Ellen I’d discuss her proposition with Gwen the Beautiful and let her know if we were interested. Then I did some asking around over at the County Clerk’s office, where Wilma, the Assistant Clerk, confirmed to me that “more property titles are changing hands these days than I ever knew we had property titles. Paradise is in for some big changes, absolutely.”
“Why do you think so many people are relocating here?” I said.
“Well, it’s certainly not jobs!” Wilma snorted. “About the only work to be had is minimum wage. But it’s beautiful here, and it’s peaceful, and it’s safe.”
“You figure the low crime rate is a big selling point?”
Wilma looked a little nervous. “I don’t think it’s that kind of safety. It’s something else.” And then she excused herself to get back to work.
Now I was intrigued. As the Old Billionaire might say, I wondered what Wilma was so “het up” about. It was time to check with the one man in Paradise who could be counted on to know just about everything: Uncle Ernie.
I found him on his bench in front of the courthouse, deep in a conversation about whether Raymond Burr really couldn’t walk when he was the star of a series called Ironside some thirty-odd years ago, “Or was he just enjoying getting pushed around in that wheelchair all day?”
I’m always glad when someone asks about a show I’ve written because those are the only questions I can be sure I know the answers to. “He could walk,” I said, “but he’d gained a ton of weight and was grateful for the chair.”
Uncle Ernie grinned at the other Old Boys gathered around him. “Just like I said. Thanks for the help, Larry B. Now how can I help you?”
“You could tell me why so many people are moving here, and why they think Paradise is so safe.”
Uncle Ernie nodded. “Lot of the folks I talk to are here because they think something terrible’s going to happen to the world. Earthquake! Nuclear war! Maybe even Armageddon! And they figure we’re high enough to not go sliding into the ocean and country enough to not be a bomb target and religious enough to have an inside track on getting to heaven if it comes to that.”
“It’s a survivalist thing?”
“Of course it is,” one of the other old boys said. He had a slight accent, but I couldn’t quite place it except to be sure it wasn’t from around here. “This is the safest place on the planet. I know it for a fact.”
“How do you know it?” I said.
“The message was beamed into my brain by the leader of the grey aliens. Radamanthus himself.”
Uncle Ernie was watching me closely. “Larry B, you look doubtful,” he said with a mischievous smile. He turned to the old boy. “Tell him where you came here from, Matthew.”
“New Mexico,” the old boy said. “Roswell.”
So, Sue Ellen, if you’re reading this, my answer about selling our property is no.
Because if you can’t believe an old boy from the UFO capital of America, who can you believe?