The Salesman

Mason’s car had stalled, forcing him to pull over to the side.  It was the hottest day on earth with no shade in sight.

“They cut down the trees.” Mason said to himself, slamming the car door while resenting the heat.  “The brilliant minds of the engineers who landscaped the cities, the towns, and the countryside’s.  How beautiful did they think it was to cut down the trees.”  He said sarcastically.

Mason had walked far before, but it’s been too many years since his youth.  Every step was becoming heavy and turning into pain.  He felt his shin tightening up.  He blamed his stupid decision of quitting a good healthy job for a better paying one.  The transition from outdoor work to an office job had transformed him into an old out of shape, loafer suffering heedlessly under the heat of the sun.

He stayed on the road as he hiked north, back in the direction that he had come from. He was sure he saw a small ranch behind a bunch of unkempt bushes. His briefcase was in his right hand, bumping against his side. He walked a mile then started to sweat out of exhaustion.  He could see the ranch just a few steps ahead.  Peering between the bushes, he thought it looked vacant, but decided to proceed anyway.  The top of the gate was broken and was off its hinges.  He unlatched it and pushed it open. The screeching sound was loud enough to cause an alarm.  He saw a shadow move from behind the curtains.  Someone was home after all.  Before he got to the door, she was there holding the screen.

“What do you want?”  Stephanie asked.

“Sorry to bother you ma’am. My car broke down and I just need to make a call.  My phone is dead.  Just my luck.”  Mason said, standing still in the walkway so not to provoke her.

“You can use my phone. Wait here.”  Stephanie said.  She went back in, slamming and locking the door.

Mason waited without moving and not knowing if she would return.  She was an elderly lady and was probably frightened.  It reminded him of his training.  He had been trained to be cautious and always to travel with his partner. But he wasn’t on the job and had left Derek behind at the hotel.  The door swung back open.

“Here.”  Stephanie held out her cell phone.

“Thanks.”  Mason nodded and made his call to Derek.  Then handed it back.  “Thanks again.”  Mason turned to leave, but saw an opportunity.  “Um.”

“No.  You can’t come in.”  Stephanie interrupted.

“I wasn’t asking that.  I just thought that you may be interested in something.  You have a beautiful home here.  And…” Mason said.

“Insurance?  Really?  I’m not interested.  An old lady like me doesn’t need insurance.”  Stephanie said.

“Not insurance. Seeds.  Your land is fertile and it could be put to good use.  Fresh food, in this wonderful clean environment.” Mason said.

Stephanie grinned. “Seeds!  That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.  You’re selling seeds!”  Stephanie laughed out.  “Look around, you fool.  I can get seeds from anywhere.”  Stephanie laughed coughing a bit from her smoking habit and pointing to her overgrown yard.

“I know it sounds funny, but what if I tell you these are very special seeds.  It grows fast, it grows easy and it grows in abundance.  There are starving people in the world who would love to have them, but…”  Mason’s pitch was interrupted.

“So, why don’t you give it to them?  They’re starving, not me.”  Stephanie laughed.

“I can prove it.  If you give me a few minutes of your time, right here, outside, now.  I can prove it.”  Mason said with conviction.

Stephanie grinned, “okay, prove it.”  She picked up a dried-up potted plant on her walkway.  “Bring this back to life, Mr. Salesman.”  Stephanie said sarcastically.

He grinned, placed his briefcase down and went for her garden hose to the left of her house.

“Here’s the seed.” Kneeling down, he showed her the seed. “Here’s the pot.”  He puts the seed in the pot.  “Now, some water.”

Stephanie laughed.  “Do you really expect me to believe this mess.”

“Now, I have to be honest with you.  These samples are an accelerated formula.  It won’t be exactly the same as yours, but it will work.”  Mason said.

Stephanie ’s grin turned into shock as she saw a bud peek out from the dirt.

“I’m not eating that.  It can’t be good.  Nothing grows like that.”  Stephanie said in astonishment.  “I’m a scientist.”

“No, it’s not what you think. It’s just a stronger fertilizer. Harmless.  I swear.”  Mason said.

“That doesn’t seem harmless to me.”  Stephanie said.

“It is.  I can eat this and I’ve eaten many of our company’s crops. Trust me, so has others.  If you have any more time, I can show you.  Do you have a computer?”  Mason asked.

“Alright, how much?  Just to get you to go.  I don’t have time for this.”  Stephanie’s eyes were shifting from the plant to Mason in disbelief. She wasn’t interested in any more hocus pocus.  There had to be a logical explanation and it wasn’t with him.

Mason gave her seeds for potatoes, lettuce, carrots, and an apple tree.

“Now, if you don’t mind.  You can wait for your friend at the road.  I’m busy.”  Stephanie snapped.  She walked back into her house, slamming the door and locking it.  She sat near the window, watching Mason walk away towards the curb.