Friday, November 2, 2007

The Kid and the Mark

They called him, The Kid. He was young, Vietnamese, with spiky black hair and a clear complexion. He smelled of trendy body-cologne, a heady mix of overpowering spices and a High Karate sensibility.

"Isn't she beautiful?" He ran a well-manicured hand over the ass of a cherry red car. He left it there, lingering, absorbing its crisp morning chill. "We just got it in yesterday; you're the first to see it."

The Mark nodded his head, and ran a hand through his thick, dark beard. His opposite hand fingered his keys, deep inside the pocket of his chinos. "Very nice," he said, in an even, noncommittal monotone.

The Kid walked to the driver side door and held it open for the Mark. The car dinged in warning. The clean, pure, new car smell wafted the air seconds later. "Would you like to take it for a spin, stretch your legs a little?"

"Sure." The Mark slid into the seat. It matched his bottom like a well-tailored pair of slacks, the leg, head and shoulder room fit like a coffin cut to his size. He turned on the radio, running the receiver through blasts of static and blips of music and jockey talk, until he reached his favorite station, 94.1, smooth jazz. The music added a soothing affect to the car.

"It's got 12 speakers, the premium sound package." The Kid leaned through the door, "Only the best right?"

The Mark rested his hands on the steering wheel, and spotted his old car, parked distant, alone. It was faded white, rusted around the edges, with natty threadbare tires and a bent antenna. Sad in its solitude, the nearest car was a hundred feet away, its glossy black finish a mocking joke compared to his old car's dilapidated state.

Listening to the soothing tones of smooth jazz, the Mark watched his car with tense, sad eyes. The old car was full of memories, good and bad. He had driven it for ten years, since college.
"Want to take it out," the Kid asked, interrupting his reverie. He had a lot riding on this sale. He was the lowest guy on the totem poll, suffering the ignominy of the dealership giving him the email address of

They stuck him with the used cars and internet leads, were he shuffled through loser after loser. The people he dealt with had little money and often bought the cheapest car they could get their hands on. If he sold this deal, he would earn some respect. It would be his first new car sale, and it would bring in a decent chunk of change, enough to go to the strip club across the street one night with the other sales guys, instead of hanging out in his crummy apartment, eating tuna again. He hated the smell of tuna; that smell of fish and oil. He hated the way it stuck to the roof of his mouth. No, he wanted the strip club, he wanted a steak, and he was going to close this deal.

"What do you say…?" The Kid leaned further into the driver's compartment, a menacing tension in his shoulder. "Let's take it out."

The Mark shook his head, his eyes still distant, the new car forgotten. "I can't," he said. "I need to go." He jumped out of the car, nearly knocking the Kid over. "I'm sorry."

He walked away, fast, purpose in each step. When he reached his old car he flung the door open, and sat in the driver seat. The morning sun had given the car a smothering warmth and it smelled of spilled soda and old French fries. He turned the key once, twice, three times before the engine engaged. The smooth jazz of 94.1 came back on. His shoulders relaxed.

The Kid stood by the new car and watched the Mark drive off, his daydreams broken, from strip clubs to tuna.

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