by Robert Boucheron
A knock at the door.
‘Go away! There’s nobody home,’ I said.
A pause, then more knocking.
I cradled my bad arm in the good one, heaved myself up, shuffled to the door, threw it open, and was ready to yell. A young man stood there. He wore a necktie, badly knotted, and a cheap suit jacket. He carried a sample case. With his fist raised to knock again, he stared.
‘Oops, I thought this place looked familiar. Aren’t you the singer-songwriter?’
‘Wesley Grubb. And you are…’
‘Duane. From Voice of the Turtle? You composed our animal anthem. What happened to your arm?’
‘I had a minor accident which might turn out to be fatal. What can I do for you, Duane?’
‘Um, well…the research project I was on had a sudden loss of funding. I’m going door to door for this new job. I need to earn money so I can attend Southern Bible College and fulfill my dream of becoming a servant of the Lord.’
‘Are you selling something?’
‘That’s right, Mr. Grubb! You could be my first customer.’
‘Of the day?’
‘My first customer ever! So far, nobody wanted to buy anything. They give me funny looks, like they never saw a door-to-door salesperson.’
‘Maybe they prefer to shop online.’
‘I didn’t think of that.’
‘Come on in, Duane. It’s too cold to stand outside.
‘Thanks, Mr. Grubb.’
He came in and glanced at the unmade futon.
‘Excuse the mess,’ I said.
‘Did I wake you up?’
‘I was resting.’
‘Because if it’s inconvenient, I could come back later…’
‘I might be gone by then. Show me what you’ve got.’
‘Wait till you see what’s in here!’ He fumbled with his sample case and extracted a box.
‘What is it?’
‘It’s the new Kitchen Komrade!’
‘Imported from a former Soviet Socialist Republic?’
‘How did you know?’
‘The box says Made in Tajikistan.’
‘Which is where?’
‘I don’t know. Do you?’
‘No idea. I was yanking your chain.’
Duane pulled a gadget from the box and began his spiel.
‘Do you like to cook, Mr. Grubb? Would you like to prepare delicious meals that will nourish your hungry loved ones? The new Kitchen Komrade is the ideal accessory for stay-at-home moms…and dads!’
‘And what does this gadget do?’
‘Oh, I’m so glad you asked me that question. Kitchen Komrade does all kinds of food preparation tasks in a fraction of the time it would take to do them the old-fashioned way, by hand. It peels and piths and removes unsightly blemishes on your favorite vegetable…like potatoes, for instance. It makes perfectly even slices every single time. Like when you slice potatoes! Or you can adjust the setting on this dial here to chunk, dice, grate, or mash, and it will do whatever…like…potatoes!’
‘How do you plug it in?’
‘You don’t. It’s cordless! Kitchen Komrade comes with no strings attached! That’s what the brochure says, Mr. Grubb, I didn’t make it up. It runs on rechargeable batteries.’
‘Kind of like a children’s toy.’
‘Think of it as a power tool.’
‘For stay-at-home dads.’
‘You’d be good at this. Want a live demonstration?’
‘Have you ever used the Kitchen Komrade?’
‘Not exactly. Like I said, nobody let me in the door before.’
‘No test drive, then.’
‘It comes with a full money-back guarantee if you’re not one hundred percent satisfied. Buy one and get the second one at half price, as a gift for that special someone in your life.’
‘You caught me in a weak moment. I’ll take one.’ With my good hand, I pulled out my wallet, set it on the counter, and slid some bills toward Duane.
‘This is great, Mr. Grubb! You totally made my day. As a gesture of my appreciation, can I heal your arm?’
‘The laying on of hands. I need to practice for my future career in pastoral care. You know, visiting shut-ins, healing the sick, casting out demons…’
‘No, thanks. I’ll stick with the current healthcare system.’
‘It only works if you have faith. Are you saved?’
‘I’m a member of Brickfront Methodist Church.’
‘Oh. Then you might be.’
‘I sing in the choir.’
‘Then you’re definitely going to heaven. Are you sure you don’t want me to heal you?’
‘Let’s leave the Lord out of this.’
‘Okay.’ Duane snapped the sample case shut. ‘Did you know that salespeople make the most effective preachers?’
‘I can believe that.’
‘Jesse King, the pastor of First Baptist, says the Trinity is like product distribution. God the Father is wholesale, Jesus is retail, and the Holy Spirit is door-to-door.’
‘That’s an interesting comparison. Was Jesse King in sales before he was ordained?’
‘I don’t know. He’s business-friendly.’
‘Good luck with your future career.’ I escorted Duane to the door.
‘Thanks! Have a blessed day!’
At last he was gone, and I could get back to feeling sorry.
Robert Boucheron grew up in Syracuse and Schenectady, NY. He has worked as an architect in New York City and Charlottesville, VA. His short stories and essays appear in Bangalore Review, Fiction International, The Fiction Pool, Litro, London Journal of Fiction, New Haven Review, Oxford Magazine, Poydras Review, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Short Fiction.