Stanuary Week 1 - Con
A lot of people went the angst route for this prompt (which is, honestly, an amazing route), but I wasn’t feeling like angst
for once. So, I thought, what would be better than salesman Stan, trying to con some people into buying a vacuum that sucks?
“Later, sucker!” Stan called out, diving into the Stanleymobile. The restaurant owner he’d just nabbed a free meal from slammed a fist against the passenger’s seat window. Stan grimaced at the man’s tomato-red face and bulging eyes.
Well, not many people dine and dash in Podunk towns like this. Guess it makes sense that he’s pissed about it. The man slammed his fist against the window again. The glass shuddered. Stan fumbled for the car keys, stuck them in the ignition, and hit the gas. The Stanleymobile pealed out of the parking lot with a loud screech. Stan glanced in the rearview mirror and spared a derisive laugh for the restaurant owner, who had fallen down when Stan drove away.
“Was that mean?” Stan mumbled to himself, focusing back on the road. “Laughing at that guy?” He turned onto the highway. “…Nah, he deserved it. Calling me a ‘ragamuffin’ and pricing his shitty waffles like the Queen made ‘em.” Stan scoffed. “Who even calls people ‘ragamuffin’ anymore?” Red and blue lights appeared in his mirrors. “Aw, shit.”
Small-town cops don’t have anything better to do than chase down dine-and-dashers. Shoulda known better. Stan looked over his shoulder. They’re still pretty far away. Might be able to lose ‘em. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a smallish gravel road. Perfect. He turned sharply. The Stan-Vacs in the back seat slammed against one of the back windows, matching the staccato of the gravel kicked up by the car. Clearly not a good day for the windows in this baby. I’m just glad they’re still holding up.
After roughly ten minutes on the dinky country road, Stan felt confident he’d lost the police. He sighed and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.
Now I just gotta figure out what to do. I’m in Bumfuck, Nowhere, with six bucks to my name and a car full of shitty vacuums. Stan squinted at the horizon. A white house was beginning to take shape in the distance. He grinned. Good. Some country bumpkins I can pawn these useless pieces of shit onto. Maybe I can convince ‘em to buy more than one.
Stan pulled into the gravel driveway. He sat in the Stanleymobile for a moment to take in his surroundings. It seemed to be an average farm: a mildly sprawling farmhouse, a barn that had seen better days, a huge vegetable garden pushing up against the house’s foundations. Stan grabbed a Stan-Vac from the backseat and got out of the car. Cattle lowed somewhere in the distance, chickens clucked and scurried in a nearby coop. He walked over to the porch, up the steps, and knocked politely on the front door. There was loud barking from inside. A muffled voice scolded the dog for making noise. Stan gathered himself, placing his most professional, schmoozing smile on his face as the front door opened.
“Howdy there, son,” the man who answered the door said. He had kind eyes hidden behind glasses, dark hair, and a large, distinctive nose. Stan brushed away the hypocritical nature of that last observation and focused on what was most important to him. This stranger had a trusting look.
He’s not one of the farmers who’s suspicious of “city slickers”. Just the kinda person I was looking for. Stan cleared his throat.
“Hello, sir,” he said. “I’m here today to offer you a bargain you’d be a fool to turn down.” The man raised an eyebrow in amusement.
“Is that so?”
“Yes. Because, you see, I’m here to give you a chance to buy the Stan-Vac, the best vacuum cleaner you can find off the black market.”
“Uh-huh,” the man said. He held up a finger. “One moment, please, son.”
“Hey, Sally, get over here! We’ve got some young man tryin’ to sell us stuff!” the man called into the house.
“Is that right?” a woman’s voice called back. “I’d better come see.” The man looked back at Stan.
“Go ahead, son.”
Why does he keep calling me “son”? Stan opened his mouth but no words came out. Shit! He threw me off! The man smiled good naturedly.
“You can start from the beginnin’, since I interrupted yer prepared speech.”
“Oh, uh, no- no need,” Stan stammered. He coughed and began to talk in his salesman voice again. “As I was saying, this vacuum utilizes technology the government doesn’t want you to know about. I’m not supposed to say, but you seem trustworthy, so…” Stan leaned in conspiratorially. “Our engineers designed this using blueprints smuggled outta Area 51.” The man laughed.
“Them’s some mighty bold claims, young man. What’s yer name?”
“Stan. Stan Forrest.”
“A strong name,” a woman said, joining her husband at the door. She smiled sweetly at Stan. “Go ahead, Mr. Forrest. Keep tellin’ that tale.”
“There’s not much else to say,” Stan said, struggling to keep up his faux cheerful tone.
This isn’t how my sales pitches usually go! People either slam the door in my face or buy ten things from me. They don’t laugh at my bullshit stories and call their spouse to the door.
“That’s a pity,” the wife said. “I only just got here.”
“Well, there is one last thing,” Stan said, abruptly remembering how his speech ended. “Within the first use of the Stan-Vac, you’ll know why people call Stan-Co brand you can trust. And why Stan-Vac is known as the vacuum that sucks more than anything.” Stan plastered a false, toothy grin on his face. The wife and husband laughed.
“You need to work on that there slogan of yours,” the husband said, shaking his head. “How long have ya been sellin’ these machines?”
“I’m not at liberty to-”
“I’d say ‘bout a week,” the wife interrupted, casting a careful eye over Stan. Stan looked down nervously. “Oh! I was right.”
“It makes sense then, that ya messed up,” the husband said kindly. He patted Stan on the shoulder. “Ya haven’t had much practice, and Sally and I ‘re pretty good at rattlin’ travelin’ salesmen. Well, the ones what bother to come to our door.”
“How old are ya, Stan?” the wife asked. Stan stared at her silently. She tutted in disapproval. “Never mind, yer clearly ‘bout as old as our younger sons. And yer just skin and bones!”
“Come on in, son, have a bite to eat and somethin’ to drink. Ya clearly need it,” the husband said. Stan took a step back.
“Thanks, but, uh, I’d better- better get going,” Stan stammered, looking back at the Stanleymobile, considering making a break for it. The husband stepped onto the porch and put an arm around Stan’s shoulders, ushering him inside.
“Now, now, we insist.”
Fuck! What the hell is with these weirdos? And I left my brass knuckles in the car. Rookie move, Stan.
“I really-” Stan protested.
“Just a quick meal, son,” the husband said. “Folks what come to the McGucket house never leave hungry.” Stan’s stomach rumbled.
Those tiny, shitty waffles weren’t very filling. But then again, who knows what these peoples’ motives are? As the husband nudged Stan across the threshold, air filled with savory aromas greeted him. His stomach growled in earnest. …What the fuck am I doing, turning down a free meal?
“Fine, one meal, then I have to get going,” Stan conceded.
“That’s more like it!” the husband enthused, patting Stan on the back. “Come on, son, let’s get some food in ya.”