••• The International Writers Magazine: Life Stories
Moving into the Continental
Clara wondered what the date was on the eviction notice that lay crumpled into a ball atop the mounds of garbage in the worn-out dim kitchen. Neither she nor her mother Anna wanted to know about that notice. Anna especially wanted to make it so they never got it, and so did Clara, though she did think about it once in a while and wondered what was going to happen, when the date finally came.
Who will come? What will they do—what is it like, to be evicted?
She squeezed the bedspread tightly to herself, as she went on thinking, They may come with sirens blazing and force us out of the house and then where will we live, where will we go?
She glanced at the window a moment and a voice came from the air behind her, saying, The car—you’ll have to live in the car. Mother’s Lincoln is big enough to live in. That’s what you should do.
Clara turned around to the voice, and all at once was the showroom of a Lincoln dealership, with Mother’s car set there, now gleaming, all brand new and glowing, huge and wide and tall, in the bright lit showroom with the red and yellow and green bright painted walls and the shiny-faced fat salesman in a gleaming white shirt standing by the car. He came up to Clara and Anna, he Mother.
Interested in this big Continental four door? he oozed, rubbing his hands together. I can see you got that look. I know the look. I seen it a million times.
Yah, I think we’re interested, said the women, in near-unison. We’re being evicted from our house. We need to live in a car now. How many bedrooms does this one have?
The car stood there waiting for the answer, huge.
Oh, said the salesman—It has four bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a family room and two full baths. Can I take you through it? I’d love to take you through it. It’d be lovely to live in—just lovely. Come on in, don’t be shy.
He stepped loosely over towards them, and swung the big door open. Anna and Clara climbed into the car followed by the salesman. He swung the door back closed with a sound like a bank vault swinging shut. Past the big leather-covered steering wheel stretched the long wide leather seats and the new car smell overwhelmed them. They stepped past the seats into the kitchen, and the salesman’s voice echoed off the broad clear windshield.
Behold your kitchen, ladies! he oozed.
Anna stepped forward and ran her hand along the dashboard counter top. Clara tried the sink; the water flowed. Beyond, the refrigerator, dishwasher and oven set into the far door glowed of the fresh new stainless steel all around them.
Wow, said Anna. And look Clara, look! This is just exactly like my kitchen at the house used to be years ago—when George was still alive.
Yes, there’s no trash—
The passenger side window above the sink was trimmed by a beautiful curtain which was pulled back. Rolling hills and fields stretched off into the distance past the window, all flooded with springtime sunlight.
Perfect, thought Clara, for long evening walks together out there. Just perfect—
So step through this door! said the salesman, fingering his tie, smelling a sale—back here is the dining room! Come on around the seatback there—look!
They walked around, and Clara was amazed that they didn’t even have to stoop. They came around the passenger seat past the door into a large dining room with a fine brown stained walnut dining room set, and a wonderful crystal chandelier above.
My word, breathed Anna.
The room was clear of trash from door to door, and it was exactly as her own dining room had been, so many years before. She steadied herself on a chairback, as the new car smell mixed with the smell of new wood and new leather and new shellac all around her.
This is great Mom, said Clara—and look.
Out the window spread rolling pastures dotted with black and white happy dairy cows all feeding on the lush happy grass, even better than the view from the kitchen. Wonderful, yes—but Clara had to ask.
Where’s the showroom, she said to the salesman. Out the windows are fields and pastures and it is very beautiful, but—where’s the showroom?
You’re experiencing the car now ma’am, said the salesman. Everything you see is part of the experience of this fine, fine American-made luxury car. The showroom’s still there. But you’re in the car now. Here, he said—come, there’s more, look here.
He grinned even more brightly as he slid back a beautifully done pocket door, and a sumptuous living room appeared, complete with nice big couches and two matching green La-Z-Boys and with a large flat screen TV against the back of the front seat. The rear seats of the car stretched across to the other side where a beautiful lace curtain adorned the driver’s side rear window. Everything was gleaming shiny clean and free of trash. As they came in, the salesman’s voice boomed smoothly on.
And through there, are the bedrooms, and the baths, he said, pointing to a seatback that pulled down to reveal a door, which he went to open, and past the door there was Clara’s bedroom—with the vanity dresser and her bed, and the window, outside of which—she pulled back the curtain and shade a bit—outside of which was the peak of Mount Everest, tall and windblown with a plume of snow off it looking like the picture in the National Geographic magazine at the hospital that got her all into this. She let go the curtain, and the big man led them on to see Anna’s room, and her private bath, and they came out the back door, and stood again in the showroom. The salesman closed the car door and the three of then stood in the shining light next to the big brand-new Lincoln.
There, the salesman said—you could live fine in that—and I can give you a great deal. I can put you in this car for—well, wait. Let’s go over to my desk. I need to look at the data sheet on the car to give you an exact price. But it’ll be more than reasonable for what you’ll be getting. Here, come on. This way. There.
He led them toward a row of desks and chairs against the back wall, but Anna looked to the right, and was stopped dead in her tracks. A truck stood there, and a man. A red pickup truck, gleaming and new, and the man standing next to it was her husband George, back just like he was before he had died. She rushed up to him.
It was the time before Clara, before George’s accident, before all the hoarding; she rushed to him, and they embraced. The salesman and Clara stood back, watching, smiling.
George! Anna pleaded. Now that you’re back, we’re going to make sure you get enough sleep, so that you don’t fall asleep at the wheel like you did before. You won’t ever crash again like you did before. Promise me.
I promise, said George. He pulled off his glasses. I’m here to buy this truck. I need a truck for all my upcoming contracting work—are you going to buy that car? I saw you come out of it—that’s a great car, you’ve got a great eye.
They both glanced toward the Lincoln with the big front porch stretched across it, newly painted, all spotless and free of trash, and Anna looked back to George, saying, My God, yes. After all, now that we’re married, you need to make a living, and we need a place to live in, and I think this red truck and this Lincoln car are the answer.
He nodded. Clara stood mute, a shade of their wonderful future before them. The salesman grinned and said, Well I’ll be at my desk—come over when you’re both ready. And he walked away whistling, a car and a truck both sold just like that, and more people made happy. Oh yes, yes, yes—the showroom expanded larger and larger with happiness, love, and all that. Yessiree!
© Jim Meirose September 2016
Jim Meirose's work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Permafrost, Blueline, Ohio Edit, Bartleby Snopes, the Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly review, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards. Two collections of his short work have been published. And a novel, "Mount Everest" was released in 2015 by Montag Press. Another novel, "Eli the Rat", has just been released by Montag as well. Three more novels are under contract with Montag for 2016-2017 release: these are previously published novels which had gone out of print from other houses.
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