I’ve been slacking on the job. I used to do the TerribleMinds Flash Fiction Challenge every week, but the first quarter-year has been challenging so I had to re-prioritize. I’m suffering for it because a writer always needs to be challenged. Below is my contribution to this weeks challenge. May Lord Wendig be merciful.
“What Would Death Ride?”
“Are you looking for something sporty or business-ee?” Carl said to the hooded figure who seemed to glide an inch above the ground. In the used car trade, you met a fine sampler of America’s weirdoes and many of his customers wore hoodies, and paid in cash. Cash don’t discriminate.
Carl looked for eyes within dark recesses of the figure’s hood. Eye contact builds trust. “I can see by that long yard tool you got that you must being in the landscaping business. Am I right?”
A sound like air escaping air from an opened crypt hissed from the figure. I’ve offended him! “Okay, you’re not looking for a truck. My bad. Let me show you this.” Carl walked over to a 2007 Escalade with gold chrome rims and tinted windshields. He looked behind him to see the customer floating behind him, or seemed to.
Carl positioned himself in front of the passenger door to hide the piss-poor Bondo job that covered three bullet holes. “This beauty right here only has 38,000 miles on it. We’ve cherried it out it even has a brand new interior. The former owner was a young businessman who sadly passed away during a misunderstanding with some hoods.”
Don’t tell him about the shooting you idiot!! He could hear his brother in law, Tripp, the owner of Second Chance Auto Sales, scream into his face.
The figure made one comprehensible sound. “Hmmmmmmm.”
“Oh, you like it? Plenty of room for your accessory there.”
The customer’s hooded head turned toward a quartz-blue Mercedes E-Series coupe, and he moved toward it.
“Now this one is a steal. 350 Horsepower. Only 8000 miles on it. And don’t mind that dent in the front bumper. I’ll knock a little off. Funny how the lady who owned it accidentally ran over her husband. That’s still in the newspapers. She thought her hubby was having an affair with her Mary Kay rep. I’m sure you can buff out that dent and no one will notice. And we got almost all the blood off the undercoating.”
Shut up. You’ll queer the deal. The last thing I need is Tripp complaining how his sister could marry a spineless no-account like me. All I need is one sale. Just one sale and he’ll think there’s hope for me.
“Hmmmmmmmmm,” the figure said. The figure approached the Mercedes. A long bony hand appeared from the billowing sleeve and felt the car’s hood. “Umnnnnnn,”
“German cars aren’t your thing, eh. Not mine either given their history. It’s a good thing the Rwandans and the Turks don’t make cars.” Carl laughed at his own joke. The customers head nodded.
I’m winning him over. Time for the upsell.
“You know buddy, I got a car over here I usually don’t show the other folks. But I can tell from your fashion sense that you’re looking for something bold, fast and eye catching. Come with me.”
On the far side of the lot past a row faded-to-the-primer junkers was a coal black Ferrari 458 Italia. Tripp was hoping he could move the car in this drive-by shooting gallery of the neighborhood. If not he’d make it his own car. Carl thought that if he could sell it, Tripp would be impressed, even proud to call him family.
“I ain’t going to lie to you. This car isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s got more horsepower than the Kentucky Derby, and you get this.” Carl reached into his jacket interior pocket and pulled out a window scraper they gave to customers.
He presented it to the customer. “Now I know you won’t be needing this in the middle of July, but you will need it to..” He leaned in close as he dared into the customer’s ear and tried the recite the line the smooth way Tripp did when he sold sporty cars to teenage chumps. “…scrape off all the pussy that’s going to throw themselves at this car. You like girls?”
The customer stood, silent and unimpressed.
“Guys, cause that’s cool. Oh, look at the interior.” He opened the passenger door and was hit with the iron scent of dried blood. Flowing from the trajectory of a self-inflicted headshot, the blood stain covered the interior. “Looks like the garage didn’t prep this for sale. We’ll get that stain off with a little lemon juice and you’d never know it. Well money doesn’t buy happiness. Rent it, maybe.”
The customer turned and moved away, his robes twirling as if underwater.
Carl ran to catch up with him “Wait, I haven’t showed you the BMW! Sure it’s got a leaky exhaust system but those kids didn’t feel a thing.”
C’mon Carl, be aggressive. Carl overtook the customer and jumped in front of him, but the customer kept moving. “Did I tell you get a free gas fill up with ever purchase? And zero down payment. That’s zero with one zero,” Carl begged as he walked backward. “There’s got to be something you like.”
The figure halted, released an acrid roadkill breath. His arm rose and a bony finger pointed at Carl. Carl shivered, but realized he was pointing to something behind him. Carl looked around and saw Tripp’s custom chopper parked beside the office.
“That’s my bro-in-law’s baby. Sorry, but that’s not for sale.”
The customer’s other arm rose. A bundle of one-hundred dollar bills six inches tall lay in his hand.
“But I can negotiate.”
The customer didn’t need any lessons. He mounted the bike, which started at his touch. He planted the yard tool next to the exhaust. The customer’s head turned. “Thank you,” he said in a windy voice, then wrenched the throttle and made a rooster-tail in the gravel as h sped off the lot.
Carl counted the money. There was more than enough to buy the bike five times over. Enough to pay off a mortgage or to live on until he could find a better job, something he liked.