The Salesman

by John Wyatt
copyright 2002


“Martha! Where are all my ties?!”

I hate having a maid. I hate the way she comes in and cleans up while I’m not looking. I hate the way she puts things where she wants them. I hate Martha. I hate lots of things these days, but right now I most of all hate having a maid. I checked myself over thoroughly, making certain that I looked like the Chief Executive of Sales for our prestigious downtown auto dealership.

“Martha!” I banged on her door, praying she wasn’t asleep or taking drugs. I imagined it was her head I was banging on the door. Banging her head bloody until she damned well put things where I wanted them! I knew she kept drugs, but I didn’t want to anger Martha further so I kept my peace.

“They’re in the wash, Mr. Keyohe.” Her voice was muffled. Was she smoking? She wasn’t supposed to smoke - not indoors at least. I had strict rules about that. I let out a deep sigh and tried to look as professional as possible, sans tie. By the time Martha came in to clean the bedroom I was already on my way out. She smelled faintly of smoke - so she had been smoking after all! I would have said something then, but I was in a hurry to get to work and decided it could wait until this evening. Maybe bang her head a few times too - just so the lesson will stick.

It was nice living such a short distance from work; the savings on gas was tremendous. I lied earlier. This wasn’t a prestigious auto dealership. It was a second rate dealership and quickly fading. The neighborhood had gone to the bums and the gangs; no one with any real money wanted to shop in such a seedy district. Several derelicts lay on the sidewalk outside my apartment building. I wonder if someone banged their heads too many times? Maybe they deserved it.

“Where you goin’?”

Crap. Did I mention about the gangs? I only saw two thugs but they were gorillas and stood blocking my path.

“I paid you yesterday, remember?” I tried to sound weak and whiny. Signs of strength only infuriated them. I still had the knot on my head where they had banged me a couple of times for not paying on time.

“Hmmmmm. Whacha think, should we let him by?”

“Yeah, I guess so. He bein’ so nice about it and all.”

The two thugs stood aside to let me pass. I crept by them cautiously. Was I bent over enough to seem properly servile? I hoped so. They liked servility in a man. They were petty drug dealers - I had seen them peddling their wares to the derelicts. The police never did anything. I wonder if they used my money to pay the police? Anyway, it was just easier to go along with the thugs, at least until I was able to do something.

I forgot all about the gang as I approached the dealership. The boss had hired a new secretary and I wanted to make a good first impression. I hoped she didn’t notice my missing tie. I pulled myself up strode proudly into the showroom.

It was a mess! Someone had strewn papers about the floor and there were customers milling about unattended! Where were the other salesmen? I stormed up to the secretary’s desk - to be met by the most gorgeous woman I had ever seen! I like tall women, a bit on the heavy side, and this brunette beauty was just what the doctor ordered! I couldn’t tell her age; truly beautiful women are ageless.

“May I help you?” Even her voice commanded attention! Sexy yet authoritative. I smiled and asked if the boss was in.

“I’m sorry, I’m new here. Who is it you’re looking for?”

Just then Mr. Brown walked by. Mr. Brown owned the dealership, along with his silent partner. Everyone called him “Doc” Brown, I think it had something to do with all the college basketball trophies in his office.

“I see you’ve met Annette, our newest addition to the staff. Annette, this is Bob Keyohe, our chief car salesman.” Mr. Brown was very cordial this morning. Some days he would grill me about my low sales, and then I wanted to pound his head into the desk and shout that the damn people just don’t want to buy old model cars! Today he looked to be in a good mood.

“Oh, I see. Good morning Mr. Keyohe.” Annette had a winning smile. I knew we would get along fine.

“Have the other salesmen come in yet?”

Annette looked puzzled.

“They’re a bit late. Big poker game last night.” Mr. Brown gave me his condescending smile that said I shouldn’t ask any more questions. “You can go ahead and get started without them. Besides, it leaves a bigger playing field for you.”

“That’s true. Annette?” I faced her and gave my widest smile. “Have the new models come in yet?”

“Uh, I…I’m not sure…”

“How can I be expected to sell these old cars? Could you please check on the new models for me?” Maybe just a little pounding - a tap to the head, just enough to bring her in line.

“I’ll take care of it Annette.” Mr. Brown gave me his supercilious smile which said that we were done now and I should attend to my own business. Maybe he had his own plans for Annette and didn’t want me to know. People did those sort of things, illicit things behind closed doors. Maybe he thought I didn’t know about such things. She doesn’t fool me either; I can tell by her face that Annette wants him, but it wasn’t worth an argument so I left.

I strode out to the lot where several customers wandered aimlessly, window shopping for cars they didn’t intend to buy. I smiled and received their cold, formal smiles back. Stay away - that’s what those smiles mean. One couple was looking over one of our better mid-size cars; the man was sitting in the passenger seat while his wife whispered through the window. I could hear them whispering; they didn’t know that I could hear them, but I could.

“It’s so expensive!” she whined.

“That’s because it’s a high quality car.”

“But, it isn’t even this year’s model! You’d think they’d cut the price for that.”

Damn Annette! She’d better get those new models pronto! I sauntered over to the couple, putting on my best salesman’s smile.

“This model is on sale, yesterday the price tag was 12% higher. It’s the last of last year’s models and that’s why it’s marked down.”

“Uh, I don’t think so. Please let us alone.”

“Would you be interested in a test drive? There’s no obligation.” I gave them my most winning smile.

“Please, just go away.” The man’s wife was doing all the talking for him. Wives are like that. A good pounding, that’s what she needs! This was a fine automobile! I should bang her head on the hood to show her how solid it is! Why didn’t she want her husband to test drive it? I moved over and opened the driver’s side door.

“3.6 litreV-6 engine - and the highest horsepower in its class. It was rated a best buy two years running!”

“Uh…no, I don’t think so.”

I could see her mouthing to her husband. She probably didn’t realize that I could read lips. Get rid of him she was saying. But it’s such a nice car he replied. He didn’t speak either but he mouthed the words. I couldn’t see his face but I knew he was mouthing the words and she was ignoring them. If I wanted to make the sale I had to act quickly! I leapt into the driver’s seat and started the engine.

“Let’s take it for a spin!” I threw the powerful car into gear and stepped on the accelerator.

“See how much pick-up she has! You won’t find this kind of power in any other mid-size car!”

I picked up speed as I raced through the lot.

“My, this car really does have a lot of pickup!” That’s what the man wanted to say; but she wouldn’t let him. She stood back waving her arms. That meant “Don’t tell him how much you like it.” I whipped the wheel around and slalomed through the other cars.

“See how well it corners? That’s rack and pinion steering, the best there is. Even the luxury cars can’t do better than this!”

The woman stood by the office waving frantically, trying to tell her husband not to buy the car. He wanted to buy it, I could tell. As we sped around the lot he kept saying what a fast car it was, or at least he wanted to say that. She kept him from saying it outright, but I knew he was saying it inside. How could I make her shut up?

“Do you take trade-ins?” the man wanted to ask, but I was intent on making her stop giving these directions to her husband. Pound her on the hood, that’s what she needed. Pound her until she stops trying to steal my sale. I steered the powerful automobile straight towards her. Her wide eyes told me that she knew what I intended. She must have read my mind! I don’t know how she did it, but she did it and now she was trying to run because she knew I wanted to pound her into the hood. I stepped hard on the accelerator.

“Please stop!” the man shouted. I don’t know why he shouted. He knew I could hear him fine. His wife ran towards Annette, who had picked up some of the gang members from the street. Was Annette a gang member too?

“Just run her over.” the man said. Now he was talking sense. His mouth said other things, but that’s because his wife was making him. I knew what he really wanted to say. I zoomed towards Annette and the gang. Now I was in charge! I was behind the wheel of the mightiest mid-size car ever built! Now I would pound them good!

Just then the man jumped out of the car! Damn! I had forgotten to make him fasten his seat belt! I must have hit a speed bump then, because I lost control of the car, crashed into another car, rolled over, and fell out onto the pavement! I lay on the ground, next to the overturned vehicle, its wheels spinning madly. The two gorillas from the street ran towards me with Mr. Brown behind them. He was part of the gang too! I tried to get up and run, but the gorillas were too fast for me. They pinned me down while Annette struggled with something in her hand. I screamed as a sharp pain bit into my arm!

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“Is he calm now?”

“Yes, he’ll sleep awhile. Martha, please take Mr. Keyohe back to his room. And this time put on the restraints.”

“Yes, Doctor.” The nurse lifted Mr. Keyhoe to his feet.

“And make sure his room is cleared of anything he could use to hurt himself with.”

“Yes, Doctor.”

“Annette, can you please help Mr. Timmons back into his wheelchair. I’m afraid this incident has upset the entire ward. Please see that their medication is increased accordingly.”

“Yes, Doctor.”

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Where did I put those ties? I hate it when the maid cleans up while I’m out.