by Treehouse Editors
David S. Osgood
The vehicles returned to the dealership in furious fashion; some were even on fire when they reached the service entrance. Peter watched, horrified, as irate customers he had shook hands with days before were exiting cars and SUVs and minivans with the intent of ruining him. He had given each of them his word that these were the best of the fleet, that McGovern’s was the most reputable dealership in the county, and that he would never sell anything he wouldn’t drive off the lot himself. He visually ransacked the sales floor; it was barren. The angry mob descended upon him with crumpled bills of sale and eyes so wide they could swallow the earth.
He had to think fast. Mr. McGovern was probably in Belize by now, starting up a car dealership with a fleet of new lemons disguised as mangoes. Seeing as Peter was recently appointed General Manager, he was the fall guy. The crowd would need answers. They will demand their money back. They will kick and fight and have his head. His accountability training screamed at him in glorious irony.
He came outside with his hands up. The tumultuous sea of new car owners, surrounded by faulty steel and glass, rose to a quiet which halted the wind.
“Everyone, please listen closely. You all have been the result of a test group. You will be handsomely rewarded for your participation. Our control group is happily driving around in McGovern’s best-made vehicles, while you, unfortunately, were chosen to test the limits of customer satisfaction. It’s cruel, I know, but you will gain in monumental recompense. If you will please follow me into the showroom, slowly and without pushing, I will set each of you up with a new car of your choice and a big fat check for your troubles. You did it, brave souls, you survived and you have won!”
Some balked and guffawed. Others ran quietly to the showroom doors and shuffled in against the windows. After some coaxing, every disgruntled customer sardined into the shiny showroom with the expertly waxed floors to await payout. Peter closed the door behind the last rejecter and locked it tight. He mouthed “I’m sorry” to them and ran frantically to his vehicle. He jumped in, locked the doors, and put the keys in the ignition.
The car wouldn’t start. It was a McGovern.
David S. Osgood is a short story writer. He resides in Holly Springs, North Carolina, where rural and suburban collide among crepe myrtles. David has a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and a Master’s from Babson College.