4
min

Two Door, Water and Ice on Front

33 readings

2

FINALIST
Jury Selection

With nary a customer in the store, the woman leaned her butt against the sales counter, folded her arms across her chest and stared into the distance, bored by the insipid banter emanating from the two men who stood beside her, men with whom she was now associated as a junior salesclerk in the large appliance department of the big box store nearest her home. Already she was regretting her decision to make this her third job. Maybe she should have taken that waitressing job. Disgusted, she turned to her colleagues, interrupting them. “Where is everybody,” she demanded, as if they were to blame for the empty store. “I need to sell something.”
“The third customer will be yours,” the senior clerk replied. Both men laughed.
On the other side of town, Eddie Fugate sat at his kitchen table and carefully rolled up the narrow strip of cardboard into a disc. Then he fashioned a second, smaller disc in the same manner and placed both in his brief case alongside a plastic drinking glass and an insert from the Sunday paper featuring advertisements for refrigerators and other kitchen appliances. Lastly and carefully he placed in an envelope eight hundred dollars in cash, all in twenties. Eddie wasn’t good with math but he knew that five twenties equaled $100 and he had forty of them.
Satisfied that his preparation was complete, he called his friend for the third time that morning, just as he had on each of the previous days since he hatched his plan to acquire a new refrigerator. “Pick me up now,” he said.
“I’m about to walk to the car,” his friend said.
“Good.”
Eddie took up his usual position by the front door, rocking forward and back in his usual manner, his feet firmly planted on the floor, his gaze directed to the corner around which he knew his friend’s car would appear.
This most recent plan to purchase a new appliance was inspired by a visit to the house of the friend who would soon pick him up. While Eddie was in the friend’s kitchen helping himself to the contents of the candy dish that was always on the counter, the new refrigerator immediately caught his attention. Unlike Eddie’s, this one had the freezer on the bottom, not the top. And it had two French doors one of which contained a dispenser for water and ice.
“Me want new ‘frigerator,” Eddie said.
“Yours works fine.”
“Need two doors. Freezer on bottom. Water and ice on front.” Eddie said. “You buy for me.”
The friend wasn’t surprised by Eddie’s request since he helped Eddie pay his bills from funds contained in the account where his monthly disability check was deposited. “You have a part-time job,” the friend said. “If you want a new refrigerator, save up the money and buy one.”
“Lotta hundred dollars,” Eddie said, feigning dejection.
“It is a lot of money,” the friend said, then softened his position. “If you save $400, I’ll contribute $400.”
Eddie accepted the challenge. The new refrigerator would be his most recent acquisition in a long line of purchases designed to ensure that he was keeping abreast of the latest trends. When he needed a microwave, he purchased the most expensive one available at the time. His first washer and dryer he replaced with a stackable set when he started seeing them displayed in the big box stores that he visited frequently on his Saturday morning walks.
Although Eddie usually spent all of his money soon after cashing his paycheck (hence the need for his friend’s assistance), Eddie could save money when he put his mind to it. Within a month or two he had saved the four hundred dollars, in part by selling his old refrigerator to the neighbor who not coincidentally had also purchased his old washer and dryer. And since he had been studying the pictures in the advertising inserts from the Sunday paper that his friend had given him, he knew which model he wanted.
The two men agreed to go shopping on the following Saturday morning. In preparation, the friend gave Eddie $400 in twenty dollars bills. As the friend expected, Eddie was standing inside his front door waiting for him. When they arrived at their destination, Eddie jumped out of the car and walked as fast as he could into the store while his friend parked the car. Once inside, it took him a minute to get his bearings. Beyond the hardware section he saw major appliances in the distance. He made a beeline for the three sales people who were talking among themselves.
Eddie had been noticed by all three clerks as soon as he entered the store. All three watched when Eddie’s gaze met theirs and this short, round faced, overweight man broke into something resembling a trot, holding up his pants with one hand and waving what appeared to be a newspaper with the other hand. The clerk whose place in the pecking order dictated that Eddie would be his customer, suddenly declined to take advantage of the opportunity. “You’re the one who’s so hot to sell something,” he told the woman. “Here’s your chance.” Both men chuckled.
Reluctantly, the woman stepped forward.
“Hi girl!” Eddie exclaimed as he approached.
“May I help you?” she asked perfunctorily, assuming that she couldn’t.
Eddie placed his brief case on the top of a nearby washing machine and extracted the advertising insert. Smoothing out the page across the lid, he pointed to the refrigerator that he wanted.
The woman led Eddie to the desired model. “Does that look like the one you want?”
Eddie compared the refrigerator in front of him with the one pictured in the advertisement. “Yeah, yeah,” he said, nodding his head vigorously.
“It’s on sale,” she said. “For $750.”
“Lotta hundred dollars,” Eddie said, wide-eyed, suddenly feigning doubt.
When at that moment Eddie’s friend arrived after parking his car, the woman’s eyes registered a glimmer of hope. “Does he want to buy it?” she asked the friend.
The friend declined to respond, instead pointing his finger back at Eddie. Eddie could handle himself in these situations, he knew.
But Eddie had tests to run before making his buying decision. First he pulled out the larger of the two coiled strips of cardboard, removed the piece of masking tape and held one end to the top of the refrigerator. “You hold,” he said to the salesclerk.
The woman didn’t understand.
“He wants you to hold on to the end of the cardboard strip,” the friend said.
“Oh,” she said, complying.
Eddie extended the strip down the length of the refrigerator. “Good, good,” he said.
“What’s good about it?” she asked.
“Not too tall.”
The woman smiled. Eddie didn’t know it, but he had made a new friend.
Next, he unrolled the second coil of cardboard across the bottom of the refrigerator, this time requiring no assistance.
“Not too wide either?” the woman asked.
“Nope. Good.”
Enjoying the moment, the woman now watched with interest as Eddie extracted the drinking glass from his brief case and placed it in the ice water slot on the front of the refrigerator. It fit. The woman laughed out loud.
“Me buy,” he said.
“Great!” the woman said. Then she looked at Eddie’s friend. “How does he plan . . .” But she caught herself and returned her attention to Eddie. “How do you plan to pay for it?”
Eddie carefully laid out all of this twenty dollar bills in eight rows of five each. “Lotta hundred dollars,” he said.
“Yes it is.” She was about to make a cash sale in less than ten minutes. She stole a glance at her still idle compatriots. Regret was written on their faces.

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