Friday Flash Revisited: Pucked Up

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Puck looked at the watch and pondered the nature of time.

It was almost as fickle as he was.

What marriage – or a good binding-spell brought on by too much drink and a serious lack of judgement – had bound together, time would tear asunder. At least it would if Puck had anything to do with it. Robin Goodfellow was not a fairy that would remain tied by one woman for long, no matter how fun bondage might be.

Belching loudly, he sat up, snapped his fingers and produced two ice-cold cans of his favorite fizzy intoxicant. Crumpling and tossing the empties, he re-loaded his beercap. He stood, scratched his hairy belly, and brooded over his newly acquired wife.

Buttercup lay frozen on the flowery bed, a beatific smile softening features that would otherwise have appeared harsh in the early morning light. No, who was he kidding? She looked angelic, no matter how much spandex she was wearing. Still, if he was tied to her by the terms of her nefarious binding-spell until “the end of time,” the obvious solution was to stop time, right?

Puck contemplated the charmed silver band that graced his finger. Buttercup was many things, but a fool was not one of them. In fact, he might even go so far as to say she was as shrewd and knavish as himself–a perfect match. So his solution seemed almost too easy. Was it another trap?

However, Robin Goodfellow was not known for his caution. Snagging the watch from the fairy king had been risky, but he knew his boss would be too busy “making up” with Titania to notice its absence. He removed the magically-binding wedding ring, then turned to face his lovely bride. He’d make the bitch pay, but there was no reason her punishment couldn’t be fun for both of them. He pressed a button on the watch’s side.

Time once more in motion, his blushing bride opened her eyes; her smile slowly widened as she took in his appearance.

“Hello, darling,” she said. “Want to play?”

##

*I hope you enjoyed this! If you are a fellow fan of the Bard, I suggest you check out the Ohio Shakespeare Festival page and find out their schedule for the rest of this year! They are incredibly talented.

I will be concentrating on some longer-term projects in the next month, so I thought I would repost another of my favorite Shakespeare sequels. The text has been edited slightly since its original appearance on my blog several years ago.

***Today’s post is an expansion of a flash I wrote at the six minute story site as a continuation of an earlier flash, Puck’s Surprise. The kernel of today’s post is still there.

***image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

 

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Friday Flash Revisited: Puck’s Surprise

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Fairies were neither prudish nor temperate by nature, but when Puck’s pranks graduated from tipping old ladies to strategically placing whoopee cushions, he crossed a line. Something needed to be done.

“But what?” asked Oberon. Puck had served as his wingman for years, so he wished to handle the situation delicately. Several compromising photos were at stake.

Titania suggested an intervention, though Oberon thought the idea unproductive.

“I agree,” called a voice. “He’ll think it’s a joke, take it as a challenge, and be worse than ever.”

“Who speaks?” called Titania.

A delicate fairy woman appeared out of the crowd and knelt before the thrones. “Buttercup, my liege.”

“Well, do you have any better ideas?” said Oberon.

She grinned.

#

Later that afternoon, Oberon searched the woods.

“Puck! Robin Goodfellow!” called Oberon. He’d thrown dignity to the wind when he told Titania that he’d fetch Puck for the party, but he didn’t dare disappoint her again. He’d never live it down.

A nearby bush moaned softly, and Oberon pushed aside some leaves. “Puck? What are you doing here? I’ve been calling for nearly ten minutes!”

The wayward fairy rubbed his temple and moaned again. “Sorry, my liege. If I had been conscious, I would never have dared keep you waiting. Do you have some aspirin?”

Oberon produced two small pink tablets. “I’m always prepared.”

Puck sat up, scratched his hairy belly, and fished around on the ground for his beer cap. Fitting it to his scalp, he popped the pills and sipped from one of the cap’s straws. “What do you need, sire? Having trouble with the Queen again?” He rose unsteadily. “You know, I could get Cobweb and Mustardseed for you. They make a mean–”

“Really, Robin, you’ve been around mortals too much! That’s depraved, even for you, and–”

“–chocolate cake.”

“What?”

“Oh…oh! You thought I meant–”

“No, of course I didn’t–”

“Of course not. Not after last time, right?” Puck nudged the King and winked with one blackened eye.

After an uncomfortable silence, the King asked, “What happened to you?”

Rubbing his forehead, Puck said, “I really don’t remember, sire. There was this party–”

“Of course,” said Oberon.

“And all I… ah, I remember. Fraternities have no sense of humor no matter what they say.”

“What did you do?” asked Oberon. “Make an ass out of yourself again?”

Puck grinned. “No, but I think I made one out of them!”

Oberon sighed. “Not the donkey head again. What is it with you and donkeys? That’s the oldest joke in the book.”

“Actually, pardon my liege, but you’re thinking of the chicken that crossed the road.”

After another pause, Oberon continued. “Anyway, you need to come to your birthday party.”

Puck perked up. “Party?”

“Oh, I know- you don’t get enough parties, do you? But yes, and Titania won’t let me cut the cake until you blow out the candles and–”

“Cake?” The color returned to his face. “Did Cobweb and Mustardseed make it?”

“I don’t know. It’s a cake: chocolate with–”

Puck took off towards the court. Thunder boomed. Puck returned, bowing low. “After you, sire.”

“That’s better,” said Oberon. “Now, let’s get some cake.”

#

The crowd formed a wide circle around the large multilayered cake. Titania sat on her throne, resting her chin in her hand.

“Can I come out yet?” a muffled voice called.

“No, not yet. You know your cue!” snapped Titania.

“Yes, your Highness,” said the cake.

Just then Oberon entered the hall, followed closely by Puck. Everyone quieted and knelt before the King. The Queen straightened up and offered her hand to Oberon, who kissed it before sitting beside her. With a small nod from the royal couple, the Fairy Court rose again.

Puck ran to the cake.

Everyone sang a tune roughly kin to ‘Happy Birthday’, and on the final line a scantily dressed fairy woman popped out of the cake. “Surprise!” she said. Puck pulled her out and kissed her passionately.

“This is going to be the best birthday ever,” he said.

She guided a straw to his lips, so he could swig more beer.

#

The next morning, Puck awoke in the arms of the lovely Buttercup. He gave her a quick kiss on the forehead, licked some frosting from her hair, and patted her affectionately on the butt. He grabbed his boxers from a nearby twig and started to dress. “Thanks for a good time, but I gotta split.”

Buttercup rolled over and regarded him through heavy lidded eyes. “Where do you think you’re going?”

Puck tried vainly to put on a boot before realizing it wasn’t his. “Oops. Sorry.”

Buttercup sat up. “No, but you’re going to be.”

“Hey, relax, babe. It was an honest mistake.”

“That’s not what I meant,” said Buttercup.

“Okay, whatever. Have you seen my shoe?”

“Look at your finger.”

Puck looked carefully at his finger. “What? My shoe…?”

“No,” breathed Buttercup. “Look.”

Puck looked. A small silver band glinted in the morning sun. “What the…”

“We’re married.”

That brought him up short. “Married? How much did I drink last night?”

Buttercup smirked. “Quite a bit, but that’s not the best part.”

Worried, Puck asked, “What’s the best part?”

“The binding spell I put on your ring. You’re bound to me for life. I know your tendency to stray, but from now on, wanderer…,” she smiled again, “your ass is mine.”

Puck mulled this over. He liked bad girls; maybe this would be fun.

“What do you think about open marriages?” he asked.

A wicked grin crossed her face. “I said you’d be obedient,” she cooed. “Get rid of your whoopee cushions this instant!”

“Yes, Mistress.”

##

*I hope you enjoyed this! I will be concentrating on some longer-term projects in the next month, so I thought I would repost one of my favorite Shakespeare sequels. The text has been edited slightly since its original appearance on my blog several years ago. In two weeks, I will post a followup to Puck and Buttercup’s romance.

**I realize I’m not posting on a Friday, but I felt I should post sooner since my INKubator announcement is no longer relevant.

***image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

 

 

Short Story: Cliffhanger

*warning: some profanity (three F-bombs)

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George Griffith, affable and lovable nice guy, stood at the cliff’s edge, hands raised  high in the air. He was accompanied by his loving wife of twenty years, their next door neighbor, Bob, and the neighbor’s annoying dog and cat. They mirrored George’s stance to the best of their ability. Bob, however, was only able to comply with one upraised arm–as the other cradled a goldfish bowl. Inside the bowl, however, his betta fish (who was also named Bob) hovered in the tank’s cloudy waters, his long floating fins in an attitude that suggested that he held his fins up in lieu of hands. The dog and cat merely lifted their heads.

“Now, jump.”  Mary Sue motioned with the revolver’s long nose toward the cliff’s edge.

George tipped slightly to view the depth of the proposed descent, then seemed to think better of it and edged slightly away. His companions did the same, mirroring his movements half a beat behind his own. The collars of the cat and the tiny dark pug made little tinkling sounds when they moved. Wet Bob leaned further away in his small glass prison. You may think it’s impossible for a fish to lean, but I assure you, with determination anything is possible.

“Uhhhh…no,” said George, shaking his head from side to side.

His companions shook their heads from side to side. The little bells on the collars tinkled. Wet Bob swished in his tank.

It was annoying.

“Go on now,” Mary Sue said, motioning the characters toward their imminent doom. “Jump.”

George shook his head again, and his companions followed suit. They looked to George as their spokesperson. “What’s my motivation?” he asked.

Mary Sue rolled her eyes, slowly inhaled, and silently counted to five before answering. “Motivation? Are you serious?” She looked at the gun, then back at George.

George gave a quick, nervous laugh before answering. “Well…yeah. I mean, if we are going to jump off a cliff…en masse, I assume…?”

Mary Sue nodded, and he continued, “If we are going to jump en masse off this very steep and scary cliff to certain death, wouldn’t we need some pretty powerful motivation?”

“I’m holding a fucking gun on you,” Mary Sue answered through gritted teeth. “That’s your fucking motivation, asshole.”

“But is it? Is it really?” George’s voice had taken on the condescending tone of someone reasoning with an idiot, rather than a man bargaining for his own life and the lives of others. “Because from where I’m standing, I don’t see how diving off a cliff is better than being shot.” Just at that moment, an updraft from the unseen depths blew his hat dramatically from his head, whistling mournfully as if to emphasize the point. The other characters on the ledge followed the Fedora’s progress with their eyes, heads turning as the wind whipped the accessory over the edge, until it was lost from sight. “See what I mean?” said George.

Mary Sue sighed and sat down on a conveniently placed boulder, careful to keep the revolver’s barrel aimed at her intended victims. “Crap, crap, crap,”  she  muttered, then added an extra crap just to emphasize her point. “I was afraid this was going to happen.”

“What?” asked George. Taking a tentative step toward her, his movements were mirrored half a beat later by his companions. When Mary Sue made no additional threats, they took a few more steps. “What was going to happen?”

“That the characters take control of the story,” she moaned. “I mean, sometimes that makes my job really easy, you know? But others, like now, I have to worry about proper motivation, backstory, did I give enough foreshadowing. I mean, I should be able to just throw you all off a cliff if I want to, right?” She turned pleading eyes on her wayward creations.

“Well, maybe you just haven’t come up with the right scenario yet?” said George, affable and lovable nice guy. He wanted to help her, even though she wanted to off him and everyone he cared about. That need to please at any cost was hardwired into him; it was one of the things that really didn’t work about his character. She hated that.

“What better motivation could there be but a gun aimed at you and your loved ones?” Mary Sue was intrigued by his line of thought, despite herself. Well, because of herself, seeing how all her characters were just different manifestations of her own thoughts, but let’s not quibble.

“Maybe…hmmm,” George mumbled to himself, then brightened. “Maybe my wife was cheating on me with Bob!” He grinned. His wife looked horrified, but he continued. “Yeah, and I’m so distraught that I force them all off the cliff, then jump myself!” By this time, he had made his hatless way to her side and gave her a friendly pat on the back.

Mary Sue put her head in her hands. “No, same problem, right? You would just shoot them. How is a cliff dive better than being shot?”

“Because I don’t need to worry about disposing of the bodies?” ventured George.

“He could threaten to shoot me in the groin!” volunteered Bob the neighbor (not Bob the fish). “That would be pretty horrific!” He looked pleased.

“Shut up, Bob. You’re just a side character,” answered Mary Sue. “I didn’t even intend for you to have any lines.”

Bob deflated, but George carried on. “No, he has a point. Some ways of dying are better than others, right? Painful versus painless, heroic versus cowardly, that sort of thing?”

Bob nodded his head in agreement, but Mary Sue glared at him before turning on George again. “Yes, but that is the point. I’ve just always wanted to throw my characters off a cliff when I’m sick of them, alright? Call it a writer’s sadistic fantasy. I make no apologies for that.”

“You’re sick of us?” said George. Being threatened with different types of death had been off-putting, but that really hurt. “Why?”

Why?!” countered Mary Sue, incredulity dripping from her lips like venom. “Because you are annoying, alright? Your character is flawed, and you say things like en masse. What real person says such a douchey thing? The characters I surrounded you with in the story are just window dressing, not fully developed people–which is why I have them mostly just react to you, George. Maybe I’m just a lazy writer, but it’s easier to have them follow the main character around rather than come up with full personalities for each and every one. It’s a short story, so is it even worth the trouble? And the animals! Holy frakking hell, what was I thinking with the animals? Half the time I forget they are there, so why’d I include them in the first place?”

“Maybe humor? You were being quirky,” said George, unrealistically helpful, as well as affable and lovable as ever. Half a beat later, his supporting staff nodded agreement–including his wife, the dog, the cat, and the Bobs.

“They don’t advance the story,” she replied.

“What’s the story about? ” asked George.

“Me throwing you off a cliff.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m sick of writing about you.”

“Well…damn,” said George. He swished his foot in the red dirt at the cliff’s edge. The other characters did the same, except Wet Bob–who swished in his tank. “What about the gun?” He pointed to the gun pointed at himself. “That’s interesting, right? Imminent danger, all that…you could describe what it looks like, the long silver barrel coated in dust, the way Chekhov is engraved in elegant script along the side, the way you pulled it dramatically from the mantel to point it at us-”

“What mantel? There’s just rocks here and a huge fucking drop.”

“You’re the writer, right? Couldn’t you just say there’s a mantel?”

“It’s like I’m talking to myself.”

“You are, remember? We are all just different manifestations of your own-”

“Shut up.”

“-thoughts, but let’s not quibble.”

“You are missing the point.” She glared. She sighed. She hung her head in frustration. She found many ways to express herself without actually moving from the spot, adding additional dialogue, or forwarding the plot in any significant way.

“Can’t you just stop writing about us?” asked George, and his supporting cast…know what? You get the idea.

“No, it doesn’t work like that,” she answered. “The story needs to be resolved in a believable and consistent way.”

“But how is throwing us off a cliff believable?”

“You see my problem.”

“Well, for one thing you aren’t throwing us off a cliff… ”

“Because you won’t listen.”

“No, not to criticize, but I mean, you are trying to make us jump–which isn’t the same as throwing us off.”

Mary Sue brightened. “You know, you’re right. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.”

“Technically you did,” said Bob the neighbor (not Bob the fish), “seeing how we are just different incarnations of your own thoughts-”

“Shut up, Bob,” said Mary Sue, and she shot him. “I don’t want to lose my train of thought, and I told you, you weren’t supposed to have lines.”

“-but…but…,” sputtered Bob as the life drained from his body, “but…let’s not…quibble.”

George looked at her in astonishment. So did his surviving supporting cast. Bob the fish flopped helplessly on the ground, where Bob the neighbor had dropped the now empty tank when he was shot. Both Bob’s burbled. It wasn’t pretty.

“So…,” mused Mary Sue, nudging both Bobs over the the cliff with one steel toed boot, “if I just shoot you first, I can throw you over the cliff myself. Then I don’t need to worry about your motivation.”

“Nudge, not throw,” corrected George.

She shot him. “And thanks for helping me establish my motivation.”  In quick succession she dispatched his supporting cast: the unnamed wife who resembled her own nosy neighbor, the dog that resembled the stray that tried to bite her every time she went out her own front door, and the cat that resembled the one that kept her up till three every morning with deafening feline orgies.

She set the gun back on the mantel that was mysteriously present in this deserted location. Then she bent down and shoved each one of her deceased creations off the cliff, whistling a joyful tune all the while.

Close enough, she thought.

 

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com
**Thank you for visiting my blog. I will post my next story in three to four weeks, due to scheduling issues. I hope you enjoyed my little piece of meta, and have a lovely weekend!

POEM: Beware the Hipster

 

“Beware the Hipster”  

(inspired by Jabberwocky)

.

‘Tis sunny on the day I see

the Hipster–bowler hat on head,

round Lennon glasses jauntily

perched on his nose. I nearly fled.

.

“Beware the Hipster!” I’d been warned,

“-the lips that sneer, the fierce eyes that

view everything, yet also scorn

whatever thing they’re looking at.”

.

He takes his cellphone well in hand,

long time the wifi here he’s sought,

to marvel at this small town’s quaint-

ness, if and when it can be bought.

.

The coffee shop is where he “hangs”

–its rooms his natural habitat;

He lounges in his Vera Wangs,

entitlement of alleycat.

.

He orders his speciality cup

and sits within a booth to tweet

over soy latte–bottoms up!

He contemplates his balance sheet.

.

The poetry slam will soon begin,

knowing this he preps his words,

adjusts his vest, neat as a pin,

and readies himself for the herds

.

of onlookers that will attend

to listen to his performance

art, anti-prose, and apprehend.

He preys upon his audience;

.

he paints a picture odious,

each finely chose profanity

he picks to shock his audience

as payment for his vanity.

.

One, two! One, two! His sharpened tongue

leaves all aghast! Wholesome, family

places won’t stand that kind of dung.

He won’t be back.

.

“Oh, have they cast the Hipster out?

Come have some Earl Grey tea on me!

Or coffee! There will be no drought

of drinks on the house, happily!”

.

‘Tis sunny on the day I see

the Hipster–bowler hat on head,

round Lennon glasses jauntily

perched on his nose. I nearly fled.

 

 

Friday Flash: Trapped

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From my pilot’s seat, I watch the contents of the aquarium tank strapped to the plane’s inner wall. My cargo’s withstood shipment far better than I anticipated. Mermen bodies are less valuable dead than alive, so I’m glad I took extra precautions to ensure this package is cared for properly. Thank the gods I took him to the vet and had him sedated before shipment. Though the tank is shatter-resistant, I wouldn’t want to test it, because if he becomes violent, he might damage himself.

Usually, men alone track mermen, but their rarity coupled with their ferocity makes capturing them almost impossible. No one expects a woman to bag such a vicious creature. But it pays to know the science. By synthesizing mermaid pheromones, I’m able to use them to my advantage. I’m actually surprised how easy it was to lure the thing into a cage.

Still, he is a handsome beast. The way his emerald hair floats in the tank’s water, the way his sea-green eyes sparkle–

He’s watching me.

He’s watching me, capturing me in the depths of those startling eyes.

I feel myself change course, away from land and back towards the sea. My hands are moving; I feel the plane’s weight shift now that the nose is aimed for those beautiful, calm waters.

The merman lifts himself from his tank. I smell salt air and realize just how wrong I’ve been about everything.

 

 

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

** I used a random word generator to get the three words I used as prompts: trap, weather, runway.

Friday Flash: Capital Crimes

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What is the meaning of this?

You are here, Mister E, due to the nature of certain letters that have come into our possession.

I’ve told you thugs before, my friend B is innocent! Since when is it a crime to say you don’t like war? Who does?! Only madmen and–

I do not refer to your friend’s anti-war sentiments, though that shall surely be investigated…

Stop shuffling those goddamn papers, and look at me! I don’t understand. Why are you even reading the mail when–

Now, you are the madman, Mister E! An enemy may send coded messages, and even newspaper columns may be employed to–

No, no, no! I mean, why read our mail? We’re just ambulance drivers, and B’s only crime is hating all the blood and death we’re exposed to in the service of “peace.”

Aha! This “peace” you refer to is an example of exactly the sort of thing we are concerned about.

What? I don’t…what?

The scare quotes you used when you referred to peace, which is the end goal of this military operation.

It’s no secret that saying war in the service of peace is an oxymoron!

No, Mister E, I am not referring to your attitude but rather your punctuation.

My punctuation! What on earth does that have to do with anything?

Have you noticed, Mister E, how you have used punctuation and capitalization throughout our conversation? Even the questionable use of scare quotes? I have.

Well?

That is something notably absent in your published works of poetry, even to the extent of not capitalizing your own name.

Now, Mister E–or should I say mister e? what do you have to say for yourself?

I’m a writer! We expand the use of language; poetry often breaks the rules of prose–with the exception of prose poetry, and–

To the extent that you even lowercase your own name?

Hey! You used lowercase as a verb, and that’s-

That is not the point, mister e.  Do not dare change the subject! Who are you working for?

No one! My poetry isn’t code for the enemy, I swear! I’m not working for the enemy!

And your idiosyncratic style? Besides the occasional odd usage of brackets and parentheses, your methodology makes no sense.

Hey, watch it! Art is in the eye of the beholder!

Eye and ear, apparently. Your excessive use of exclamation marks during our little talk is giving me almost as much of a headache as your printed works.

It’s a stressful situation! I resent that.

You are meant to.

How can you accuse me of anything when you just ended a sentence with a preposition?

It was correct usage, and you are in no position to do anything other than answer my questions.

Listen, can you at least untie these ropes? I’m beginning to chafe.

No.

No?

No. Not until you explain.

That wasn’t a proper sentence! There was no–ouch!!!

I see you are beginning to slip and reveal your true nature, mister e. Three exclamation points?

Dialogue is different.

How do you expect us to believe you are an author with so little vanity that you eschew capitalizing your own name? You must be getting paid a great deal, mister e, to go that far.

I swear to you, I am not a spy!

Spy? Who said anything, anything, about spying? Admit it. You are a saboteur.

If you don’t think I’m a spy, then what am I sabotaging?

I ask the questions, mister e!

Ow! I swear to you, I’m not working for anyone! All I did was experiment with punctuation and grammar! Since when is that a crime?

Crime? You are not under arrest.

But the ropes, the cuffs…?

They are merely details to ensure your cooperation.

Who do you work for?

Wait, you don’t work for the military?

Military, mister e? You wish. I work for a much more important organization.

Who? Dear gods, who could that be?

Let’s just say certain union officials are unhappy with the turn the language has taken recently. The editorial costs alone are enough to put a significant dent in their annual budget–a fact which does not please them. So, once again, who do you work for? The CIA?

You just said it wasn’t a spy thing!

Don’t play dumber than you already are. The CIA in this context is obviously the Committee for Interrobang Adaptation! Is it them?  A rival editorial group? The Typographers’ Guild? Who? Confess.

if you could loosen these ropes and get me some water for my throat I would appreciate it all those exclamation marks really did a number on me

seriously

i will tell you everything for the right price

Stop smiling like that, mister e. It is giving me the creeps.

thanks for the water friend

You are evil.

 

.

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

**written in honor of National Punctuation Day for #FridayFlash and inspired by e e cummings. I mean all due respect to Mr. Cummings.

***For those of you lucky enough to live in Northeast Ohio, Saturday the 24th of September is the Western Reserve Writers’ Conference. I hope to see you there!

Friday Flash: Reclamation

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“Hello, Ma’am! What can I get for you today?”

The woman looks at the shiny new leg models on display in the store window and purses her lips in concentration.

“What’s the matter, can’t decide?” asks the salesman, his eye gleaming with visions of dollar signs dancing before him. He knows this customer well. He’s seen her here before.

“I’m not sure I really need an entire leg…,” hedges the middle-aged wallet before him. “My arthritis is only in my knees right now, and it really just acts up when it’s cold or it rains or snows. Do you have any models of just knee joints?”

“Well, I suppose I could get you just the knees, but then what happens when your arthritis starts in your feet? If you replace the leg now, you get the foot already attached. And with today’s biomechanical advances, you want to get the latest; plus you’ll know that the leg and foot are compatible, because they were literally–I know how pedantic some people can get about that word, but trust me I’m using it right, literally made for each other.”

“I don’t know,” continues his next sale. “I just came for a simple knee replacement. The arthritis isn’t that bad. I could just suffer through and save the money.”

The salesman can’t allow this fish to get away, no matter how much she struggles. As she turns toward the door, he calls out, “Sure, you could! I can show you some knees right now. I think they might even be on sale.” He makes sure she turns around before he puts his back to her and goes behind the register, fiddling with some boxes for the sake of appearances. Sometimes you need to let the fish think it’s getting away before reeling her back in.

He holds up a new box of biomechanical knee replacements. “Knees are a hot item right now, what with the weather and all. We guarantee these will feel just like your natural knees–naturally healthy and pain free ones, of course. Plus these can be customized to match your skin tone–virtually indistinguishable from your natural knees.”

The catch, err…woman is examining the flesh-toned items with interest. She suddenly looks up, worry creasing her puffed and tired face. “Virtually?”

“Well, of course, if we do the entire leg and foot, the single unit will naturally go together both aesthetically and functionally. But you said you don’t want to spend that kind of money-”

“Well, I don’t suppose it would hurt to just look at leg models. Would I need to buy a set? Or could I just get one to match my other leg?”

He’s got her.

He’s been doing this long enough to know when someone desperately needs an upgrade. She might protest about money, but really she just wanted to have no pain and plenty of energy to live her life. Like most people. She just wanted to reclaim her old life, a life free from the physical pain that set limits on her ability to live it.

He would save the best for last, quelling her financial worries with talk about insurance and payment plans and money-back guarantees, and within the hour he’d have her agreeing to an entire body upgrade with brain transplant. When the body is guaranteed for the next two centuries minimum, payment plans can be stretched to become affordable for even the most miserly of customers.

He decides not to tell her about the fine print; the reclamation program that kicks in if she fails to make her payments. With any luck, his own reclamation contract would be up soon. With just fifty more years or 14,000 sales, he would be free of his debt to the Company and own his own body free and clear.

**Image courtesy of BigFoto.com