A saleswoman and her customer meet in an alley. They kiss as if they already know each other. “Your skin still smells like easy money,” he whispers, running his hand through her hair. “Damn right it does,” she says, nuzzling her nose against his wool coat. “Beautiful, soft wool,” she says. “Where did you buy it?” “What a great question,” he says. “From you,” of course.
She can’t remember ever having sold anyone a coat. But he pulls her in right up against his pacemaker, so she can feel the cold warmth of his heart and hear what makes him tick.
Salespeople are victims of their products. The numbers around which they orbit are like meteor showers. They lie down in bed and think about the way people buy things from them, how easy it has always been. They wonder, why am I slick? They lie very still with their thoughts. This is how they learn to be rainmakers, letting the drops fall from the clouds they conjure, the drops that never touch them. Unhooking stress from their agreeable bodies, they might remember some of the items they have never wanted to own:
A wind-up donkey from an absent father.
A photo of a mother on the shore, her hair flying.
A necklace made of Hawaiian shells from a depressed sister, who never came home.
My Father the Salesman
In his will, my father left me only an envelope filled with Kennedy half dollars. I searched his drawers and closets, but never found them. “Your father really knew how to live it up,” my mother would say regretfully. She would drink vodka martinis dry, her eyes froggy. “He spent twice what he made,” she said, “but he could sell a wolf a double-breasted suit, a snake a pair of new loafers, a frog a suede vest.” Unfortunately, that market dried up as he got older. Stumbling around with a hangover one the morning, my father plugged in the toaster oven while the dishwasher was running and blew out the power in the whole building. My mother knocked on each door to apologize to the neighbors, but not one of them would answer. “Your father couldn’t fix anything around the house,” my mother would say, “but he certainly knew how to break things.” Only once, she told me how my father was a very special kisser. “His lips were so hot they could melt an ice cube.”
Bad Day for the Salesman
The salesman headed home after another day without a sale. The sun was dissolving in the sky and the sky leaned down dangerously close to the trees. The birds were calling to each other, but he couldn’t identify any of them. Nor could he identify any of the birds he saw, except the crow walking over a lawn, scavenging for food. He shifted his case with all his goods from hand to hand as it had grown too heavy hours ago. He arrived home, turned the key in the lock and opened the door, but the chain was on. He knocked and shouted for his wife, who took her time getting to him. “You again?” she said. He took out a basting brush to give her. She shook her head. “What do I want with a basting brush? I never grill.” He opened his case and removed his best boar-bristle brush, the one with the silver handle. “Put it back,” she said. “I don’t use that kind of brush. It catches and tugs my hair.” He reached his hand in to unchain the chain, but he got nowhere with it. “Is that the best you can do?” she asked. “You’re in the wrong profession.” Then before he could give her another pitch, she shut the door, double clicking the locks.