Salesman of the Years

Cthulu loved the 70s: art by Tom Brown, colouring by me

“I want to return this year.”

“Why?”

“It’s defective,” she replied.

The salesman picked it up, shook it, checked the plug, then set it down on the showroom floor.

“Why, what’s wrong with it?” he asked.

“What’s wrong with it? What’s right with it? The pandemic; Brexit; policemen killing black men; mental health problems due to enforced isolation, flooding …”

“Okay, okay, let’s see what we have on the lot.”

The woman followed the salesman outdoors to an asphalt field which was spotted with rain. He picked up a box. It was gold; tied with a big red bow, and stained with mud, and what looked like blood.

“That?” the customer all but shouted. “You’re offering me that? What is it?”

“A fascinating year: world changing, as a matter of fact.”

“Which year is it?”

“1918.”

“What!” She really was shouting this time. “1918? Are you insane? Another, even worse pandemic – the Spanish Flu killed millions, for fuck’s sake!”

“Yes, but that was just the end of 1918 – “

“ – whilst the rest of the year was devoted to a World War!” the customer cut in angrily.

“Okay, okay.” The Salesman walked the customer to another part of the lot. “What about this one? If you trade in this year against it, I can let you have it for peanuts.”

“What is it?” she said suspiciously.

“A year full of celebrations, people dancing in the street, parties which – “

“ – I meant, what year is it?”

“1945.”

“What IS it with you and war?” she asked.

“Help add pepper to a year, don’t ya know.”

“No thanks.”

“Be that way,” the Salesman muttered to himself. “How about this one? “ he asked, picking up another box. “1976.”

“Drought,” she said.

“2010?”

“That was the year I got divorced.”

“1980?”

“That was the year I was born.”

“And what’s wrong with that? A true new beginning.”

“My parents split up.”

The salesman stood quietly for a moment. “Tell you what. Let’s walk back to the showroom. I think I have just what you need.”

“What is it?”

“You’ll see,” he said.

Inside the showroom, the salesman held out a box which, like the others, was gold with a red ribbon. Unlike the others, there wasn’t a spot on it.

The customer looked at the tag. “2021?”

“You’re welcome,” the salesman said.

About Sheila N

Enough about me. Art by Tom Brown.
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