I should have known better when the guy traded his black, mint-condition Acura MDX in for a third of its trade-in value. I sold him an NSX full bore, and he couldn’t drive it off the lot fast enough. Then the trouble started.
Having the first sale of the day at Harper’s Auto Sales, a subsidiary of Harper Enterprises, I got the first column on the tally board, so I wrote my name, Victor, on the top and marked one sale. A few minutes later, Mabel, our extended warranty girl, went into convulsions of fear, crawled under her desk, and refused to come out. We called her doctor, but he inexplicably got lost on the way, and never figured it out. The pipes burst in the girls bathroom releasing a black, viscous goop. It smelled horrid. Then the lights began to flicker.
Customers continued to roll in, but they all seemed agitated. I showed this pipe smoker the Acura MDX, but when I opened the door, I swear on my rolodex the car moaned. The customer heard it, too. At first we thought someone was trapped inside somewhere, so we opened it up, but there was nothing in front or back. Not only that, but a sulphury smoke surrounded us, dropping the temperature about twenty degrees. It wasn’t the cold that made my scalp tighten and my spine chill. Needless to say, the customer took off.
I avoided the car for a while. Let the green peas, Steve or Carla, sell the damn thing. I was taking lunch when one of our best closers, Callen, burst into the showroom, beach white face, yelling. “The MDX started on its own, and blew oil out its exhaust pipes all over me.”
That’s impossible,” said Jay Harper, the owner. Yet, the proof covered him with splatters from head to toe.
“I know,” said Callen. “You don’t understand. I was standing in front of the car, and the oil came after me—and it was a lot. I got away from most of it. Look.” He pointed at the car, and sure enough, there was a huge oil slick in front of the MDX, bubbling with steam and blanketing the trunk of the next car up.
“All right,” said Jay. “That tears it. I’ve been hearing things about this car all day. Whoever sells it gets a five hundred dollar bonus. Call all your tire-kickers and let it go at cost.”
Everybody hit it hard—mostly because even the lay downs walking in for different cars were getting the creeps and leaving before we could land them. But by closing time no one had bought it. No one sold a thing. But that wasn’t the worst part. None of us could leave.
We all tried, but every time we did, either some invisible force held us back or we became horribly disoriented, eventually finding ourselves back in our desks. Only Mabel had gotten out, but Will had driven her to the doctor earlier in the day.
None of us slept. We closed our eyes in our chairs, but the sulphur smell permeated the offices, and the noises—they were awful. Screams, moans, cackles, crashes. We tried to call the police, whether we used the land lines or cell phones, we always got a busy signal.
In spite of not having slept, none of us had seen what happened to Steve. Carla asked where he was, and we all shrugged at each other. We started to look around, but he was nowhere inside. We went outside, and I swear to you this is true, the sun was an ugly mud color and the entire dealership—building, showroom, and lot—blended with a sickly yellow. We wouldn’t be able to sell to a grape this way.
Carla whimpered. I looked at her, and she was staring in the direction of the MDX. There was a slight dent on the front, and it seemed to be covered in blood. “Ain’t nobody can sell it now,” she said.
“It’s going to take our best climber,” said Jay. He meant me. “It’s up to you, Victor.” I told you so. “Besides. You’re the one that took it. The rest of you, stay inside and stick together.” They did as he said. He put his hand on my shoulder. “What do you need from me?”
How would I ever do this? Back to the foundations. Know who your selling to and create the demand. But who…? “You know what would be good for your PR?” I asked.
“A scholarship. Call the bishop and offer him an endowment. Make it for a school for exorcism of inanimate objects. A big one.”
“What the hell, Victor?”
“Do it. And tell him you’d like to speak with the priest he’ll put in charge. No strings or stipulations. Just get a name.”
The MDX honked and started to rock and squeak, tires occasionally bouncing off the ground.
“Okay. Okay!” said Jay.
Thirty minutes later he came back. “Father Brett of St. Agatha’s.” Jay handed me the info.
I dialed the father’s number on my cell. A few rings and he picked up. “Hello, Father Brett. My name’s Victor at Harper’s Auto Sales. Have I got a deal for you.” I sold it to him at triple the trade-in value. Five hundred dollar bonus. Cha-ching!