by Roy Dorman
It was Saturday morning. The first vacuum cleaner salesman had knocked on his door at about 10:00 AM. Eddie Gibson, who had been living alone after being married for ten years, welcomed the company.
He had been watching the first salesman demonstrate his machine when he saw a second one step into his living room with briefcase and demonstration kit in tow.
“You must not have heard me knocking; that vacuum he’s using is really loud,” the second one said.
The first salesman shut off his machine. “What did you say?”
“See what I mean? That model is way too noisy.”
Eddie could see that unless he did something there was likely to be trouble. “Why don’t you vacuum on opposite sides of the living room? There’s plenty of carpet for the both of you. I’ll just go into the kitchen and start some water for coffee.”
Eddie took down three cups and saucers from the cupboard and waited for the water to boil. It seemed as though the noise from the vacuums had actually increased since he had left the living room. He found out why when he brought in the coffee. A woman and another man had joined the first two and there were now four vacuum cleaners running in his living room. And another woman was standing just inside his front door.
“There’re already four salespeople in here—you’ll have to come back another day,” shouted Eddie above the noise of the vacuums.
“Toasters!” yelled the woman at the door. “I don’t sell vacuum cleaners; just toasters!”
Eddie sighed, put the coffee down, and waved her into the kitchen. He didn’t like leaving only three cups of coffee with the four competitive salespeople. Two of them had met near the middle of the carpet and were doing something with their machines that resembled a stock car demolition derby he had once attended at the county fair.
Eddie got out a tub of margarine and a jar of grape jelly from the refrigerator. “I’ll make more coffee and you can make toast,” he said to the toaster person. “I’ve only got a half a loaf of bread, so I’m going to drive to the supermarket and get another loaf. You can make up what’s here and take it and the coffee in to those vacuum cleaner hooligans, okay?”
“No problemo. I’m Paula, by the way.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re here, Paula. I’m Eddie.”
The noise in the living room suddenly stopped. Eddie went in and found the salespeople turning their machines off and on. “You probably blew the living room circuit breaker. Somebody will have to go down the basement and flip it back. One of you can finish the floor and another can do the upholstery and the drapes. The other two can just sit. I’m going to get more bread for toast.”
When Eddie stepped outside he saw there were two men wearing gimme baseball caps racing around his lawn on riding lawnmowers.
“I guess I should get two loaves,” he muttered. Then, looking at the guys on the lawnmowers in their strap t-shirts, he said, “And maybe some beer.”
At the supermarket, Eddie decided to add some chips and salsa to the two loaves of bread. He then went to the liquor section to check out the specials on 12-packs of beer.
As he was hoisting the second 12-pack into his cart, his cell phone rang.
“Hey Eddie. It’s me, Johnny. Happy Demonstration Day!!!!”
“What? What are you talking about, Johnny?” said Eddie.
“Just check out today’s date on your phone. What’s it say?”
“It says April… Aw, damn, Johnny, ya got me again.”
“That’s right, buddy. April Fools! That’s three years in a row. I thought for sure you’d be ready for me this year. If ya don’t have a good offence, ya can at least play good defense. So, how’s the demonstratin’ goin’, Eddie. Got a house full?”
“Very funny, Johnny. Yeah, I’m at the store getting some supplies. Might as well have a party. Since you set this whole thing up, how about you bringing over a couple of buckets of hot wings?”
“Sure, I can do that. I’ll be there in a half hour.”
On an impulse, Eddie grabbed a bottle of merlot. He thought Paula was kind of cute.
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Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and is the submissions editor of Yahara Prairie Lights. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in Burningword Literary Journal, Gravel, One Sentence Poems, Cease Cows, Flash Fiction Press, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Drunk Monkeys, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Birds Piled Loosely, and a number of other print and online magazines.