The Dream Mechanic – Part XXXVOct 15th, 2010 | By Tom Fillion | Category: Series, The Dream Mechanic | 730 views
CATCH OF THE DAY
Catch of the Day was originally published in Leaf Garden #8
A hand was thrust at me through the threshold of the open front door. The handshake was strong, aggressive and affirmative and the hand was attached to Jack Franklin, a six foot man in his mid-thirties. It was an A personality grip and a foreshadow of his wide shoulders and square jaw. He wore a white T-shirt and gray slacks.
He led me through the empty foyer then retrieved a large sandwich stacked with sliced meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes in the kitchen.
“Jean, time to vacuum the room where the waterbed goes,” Jack Franklin called to his wife.
She responded instantaneously and stood there like a Motel Six maid ready to vacuum. I returned to the van to gather the parts of the used waterbed that the Franklins purchased.
There was no other furniture except in a small, open den next to the bedroom. The den contained a desk, a reclining office chair, and a lamp. On the wall hung a framed picture of an antique locomotive from the era of opulent, gilded passenger cars.
“That’s my dream,” Jack Franklin said.
He moved with his sandwich to the reclining chair and pointed at the train with his free hand.
“I want to have my own passenger car and locomotive like in the days of Carnegie and Mellon,” he said. “You can do it today in America if you believe in yourself.”
There was determination and conviction in his voice – and part of that enticing sandwich.
“Do you believe in yourself, Wilbur?”
I had told him my name. His directness startled me. It caught me off guard like I was the Invisible Man and he could see through me. I was there to set up the used waterbed, not to confront my self, my beliefs, my emptiness.
“I like setting up waterbeds. I have to believe in myself to do that.”
“What kind of money do you make?” Jack Franklin interrogated. “Have you ever thought about going into business for yourself? What if someone offered you the opportunity to make one hundred thousand dollars in one year? Would you be willing to listen to someone like that?”
He took a big chunk out of his sandwich. I’d listen to anyone who gave me a sandwich like that right now, I thought truthfully.
“Who’s going to do that for me?” I asked instead.
Jack Franklin paused. He had thrown out the chum block. His eyed were glazed and frost-bitten. He was ready to throw the hook into the water and insert it deep into my throat and reel me ashore. I was his catch of the day.
”I’m in the business of counseling people about setting up their own business. That’s what my business is. You look bright and ambitious. You want to get ahead, don’t you?”
“I can work with you,” Jack Franklin stated. “I think you have what it takes. You set up waterbeds, you’re someone’s employee, the man with the beard? Is he your father?”
“I can see a resemblance. Like I said, you’re his employee, and he’s probably a nice person, but what about a business where Wilbur Dobbs is responsible to Wilbur Dobbs, and Wilbur Dobbs can make as much money as Wilbur Dobbs wants to?”
His voice intensified as he posed the questions. I had never heard my name mentioned so many times in such a short time span. It was like he was trying to hypnotize me. Even Johnson from Allied Credit Corporation when he was in full battle regalia never used my name so many times.
“There’s a lot more doors open for you if you have money. And women will find you more attractive.”
“That sounds good,” I said, playing along with his strategy.
“I increased my net worth last year by two hundred fifty thousand dollars, and I’m going to do even better this year,” Jack Franklin proclaimed.
My eyes lit up like the windows on a winning, one-arm bandit. He had found a breech in my flak jacket. I remembered the used waterbed and no furniture except in the den. Something didn’t add up.
”Do you want the waterbed against this wall or the far wall?”
“Fine, right there,” he said.
“I’d be satisfied with making fifty thousand dollars,” I said, lowering my expectations.
Jack Franklin took another bite of his sandwich.
“It only takes a small investment of one hundred dollars on your part. How many waterbeds is that?”
“Five or six. It depends on Dave’s mood. Sometimes he pays me more than fifteen dollars per setup.”
“That isn’t too much of an investment to guarantee your financial future, is it? When you go into business for yourself with my help, you can write off the one hundred dollars as a business expense. I’m going to make an appointment for you so we can discuss your financial future.”
He flipped through a memo pad.
“Let me check my schedule. I don’t think I can see you until…”
He turned several more pages, grimaced because he was so busy, but then found an open spot. Somehow I felt the memo pad was as empty as the house.
“I’m booked until the first of the month. That’s two weeks from now. That’ll give you some time to think about your financial future. What about ten a.m. on Wednesday, the first?”
“How ’bout Thursday, the second? I’m busy on Wednesday,” I stated as I tried to find a day that didn’t work for Jack Franklin.
I might be his catch of the day, but I decided to head for deeper water or some structure to cut the line he snagged me with.
“My wife and I are at church all day Thursday. Thursday is out for me.”
“Okay, Wednesday, the first,” I agreed.
He finished off his sandwich, then wrote the appointment on a card and handed it to me. I stuffed the card in the pocket right below the orange lettering on my blue shirt. He crouched down next to the used waterbed. The outside vinyl on the frame was light blue with a small rip in it. His eyes moved from the rip to the silver mattress that filled with water.
“You want some duct tape over the rip?”
“That’s a good idea. You’re very resourceful. You’re going to make a lot of money when you go into business for yourself,” Jack Franklin assured me.
I put a silver, duct tape patch over the rip in the blue vinyl. Duct tape and paperclips and I could fix just about anything.
“I’ll see you on the first at ten in the morning. Bring either cash or a money order. No personal checks,” Jack Franklin said.
He led me to the side door to the garage.
“I’ll open the garage door from in here.”
I walked through the kitchen toward the garage. The sandwich ingredients were spread on the counter.
He had one last chance to offer me a sandwich, but he went back to the den to stare at the locomotive and the gilded passenger car. I could hear the vacuum cleaner as it hummed in another interior, hollow room. In the garage four levels of shelves lined the walls. The shelves were filled with soaps and detergents. Four or five fishing poles leaned into a corner. An old, white station wagon was parked inside. It was tattooed with stickers on the back windows that said: “Christ died for your sins,” “I read the back of the book and we won,” and “Ask me about my soap of the month.”
The garage door mysteriously opened, flooding the garage with bright light, I used my height to place the appointment card on the top shelf near the fishing poles where Jack Franklin wouldn’t find it until he had sold all that fucking soap.Help Support T21 with your Dollar Donation Today
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