Alec Baldwin walks into the sales room and says, “Marshall the sales force.”
Dennis Hopper is the only other person in the room. He’s sitting in a chair. “It’s just you and me, man.”
Baldwin straddles the front of a desk and holds up to his crotch an office desk toy, with five silver balls hanging from threads. “Know what this is?”
“Brass. You got to have brass balls in this business. 2 pair of brass balls plus one beats one pair of brass balls all to hell.” Baldwin places the balls on a shelf behind Hopper’s head and causes the end balls to start to click back and forth.
“Why don’t you just say five brass balls?”
“I like to say pair twice to maintain the symmetry of it. Listen to that clicking.” They both listen for a couple of seconds.
“Who are you?” asked Hopper.
“I’m with Blue Lou Boyle, who was hired by Mitch & Murray.” Have you heard of them?”
“Mitch & Murray sign my paychecks. I’ve never heard of Blue Lou Boyle.”
“Blue Lou Boyle works for Mitch & Murray. Mr. Boyle delivered the sales leads and left them locked in the office. Your son, fuckhead that he is, left a contract on the desk where the leads were, with his name on it, but no signature from the purchaser.” Baldwin laughs. “That sale is null and void. That’s basic 101 salesmanship. Get the name on the dotted line. Always be closing. Now I want to know where your boy is. I know he’s got the leads.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Baldwin holds the clacking balls next to Hopper’s head until he gets thwacked by one. “Oww!” said Hopper.
“That smarts doesn’t it? Fucks you all up. It’s as good as you’re going to get and it won’t get that good again.” Hopper looks at Baldwin thinking about what to do. “What were your sales figures for last month?” Baldwin asked.
“I don’t know I haven’t had a chance to add them up yet. I think one of the checks still has to clear.”
“It’s not going to clear. Those people are lonely. They just want someone to talk to. Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t go near that house.”
“Figures. Those leads from Mitch & Murray are all deadbeats.”
“Did your son sell the leads to Jerry Graff? Something tells me you were in on this. You’re a security guard, for Christ’s sake. How did you let someone steal the leads?”
“Ok. You got a cigarette?” asked Hopper. Baldwin hands him one after lighting it.
“You know I like to read about gardening. I’m a garden historian,” Hopper said.
“I have a bit of a green thumb myself. I didn’t see a garden outside.”
“I just read about it. I don’t actually garden myself. That shit fascinates me. You’re from Italy, right?” asked Hopper.
“I’m not from Italy per se, but I take great pride in my heritage when I’m not perpetuating negative stereotypes.”
“Anyway, a long time ago Italy used to only have a few pure strains of vegetables such as fava beans and endives. Then vast storms came to southern Europe. Some of these southern European alien seeds got caught up in the winds and blew across the border of Italy, mixing with other plant life. This naturally resulted in hybrids.”
“So what?” asked Baldwin.
“You should have tended your garden.”
“In the biblical sense?”
“What was created was eggplant. A vegetable abomination. You’re part eggplant.”
“Whatever. You’re a cantaloupe. I’ll sell cantaloupe to cantaloupe farmers and eggplant to eggplant farmers.”
“Not with your shitty leads.”
“Want to know what I drive?” asked Baldwin.
“A red BMW. What does your son drive?”
“Pink caddy is a vehicle to be reckoned with. Your boy is showing me up when I’m supposed to have all the weapons here. I gotta wipe this egg off my face.” Baldwin dips a cloth in a fish aquarium to wipe his face.
“Whoa. Just use the sink. You’re dripping on the floor.”
“See this watch?” asked Baldwin.
“What about it? Is it expensive by any chance?” Hopper asked sarcastically.
“Laugh it up, loser. It’s actually a knock-off, but I admired the salesman’s panache. You wouldn’t know panache if it hit you in the face. I hired him too. He should be in tomorrow. Nobody goes near him except Roma. I don’t want any of you other fucks contaminating him with your bad habits. What a fucked up sales force.”
“No worse than eggplant, which is what you are.”
“I don’t know eggplant in Italy from cantaloupe in Jersey. They ain’t all deadbeats. Somebody wants investment property in Florida. Look, do you know how versatile eggplant is? It has a million household uses. So does cantaloupe. True facts. So tell me, what’s it going to be, Cadillac, steak knives or not feeding your family?”
Hopper starts to object. Baldwin interrupts him. “I don’t want to hear it. I know your son already has one. Steak knives then.”
“I’ll go out on a sales call now. I have a sit scheduled.” Hopper leaves.
Baldwin faces an empty room and holds up a short stack of index cards in his upturned palm. “You want leads. You have to earn them. These are the Glengarry leads. They’re for closers. They’d just be wasted on you, which is why I stole them.”
Paul Handley’s work has appeared in Adirondack Review, Eclectica, Gone Lawn, and Monarch Review. He was a runner-up William Richey 2015 Short Fiction Contest judged by Aimee Bender.