Summer Vacation Ch. 29byD.C. Roi©
On the way home from the dojo, Tommy passed the car dealership where he'd seen the 4 X 4 pickup. He had quite a bit of time before he needed to be at work, so he pulled into the lot, parked his parents' car, and walked over to the truck. It was bright red, had jacked-up suspension and huge tires, an extended cab, even a chrome roll bar with lights on it in the bed.
After a couple of minutes a portly, balding salesman appeared. The man wore glasses and a plaid suit. "Like that baby, son?" he asked.
"It looks nice," Tommy said, "I noticed it when I was driving by the other day.
"That's one of our best units," the man said. "This baby has all the extras. Off-road kit, five-speed, tape deck, special off-road tires, winch, even air-conditioning." He patted the truck's shiny side. "She's quite a rig. Lot of people been checking this baby out, I'll tell you. You want it, you're gonna have to move quick or it'll be gone."
"How much is it?" Tommy asked. He knew the salesman was trying to put pressure on him. He'd seen the truck sitting in the same spot for several weeks. If a lot of people had been stopping, none of them were buying.
The salesman glanced in the direction of the car Tommy arrived in. "Planning on trading that?" he asked.
"No," Tommy said. "The car belongs to my parents."
The man scratched his head and tried to look as if he were thinking. He wasn't good at it. "Tell you what," he said finally, "I think I can convince the boss to let it go for just under fifteen."
"It isn't new," Tommy said, "isn't that a little high?"
The salesman frowned. "She's only got nine thousand miles on her," he said. "Never been off the road. Heck, it's better than new, really. You won't have any depreciation." He put his smile back on. "Why don't you come on down to my office? We can see about arranging financing, and I'll see what I can do with the boss about the price. I'm sure we can knock something off, make it more reasonable, you know?"
"I won't need financing," Tommy said. "If I buy it, I'll pay cash."
The salesman's eyes widened. "...cash? I..." he stammered.
"Is cash OK?" Tommy asked innocently.
"...yeah, sure...sure it is," the man stammered.
"Since it's used, I think ten thousand's fair," Tommy said. He smiled at the man. "Don't you?"
The man scratched his head again and looked aggrieved. "I don't know," he said, looking pained. "I mean, we got to make something, you know."
Tommy turned and started for the car.
"Where you going?" the salesman asked.
"To the dealership down the street," Tommy replied over his shoulder. "If I'm going to pay fifteen thousand, I might as well have a new truck, don't you think?" He reached the car and got in.
The man followed him to the car and gestured for Tommy to roll the window down. "Ah...you really got enough money to pay cash, kid?" he asked.
Tommy nodded. "You can call my lawyer and check," he said.
"OK," the portly salesman said, "you said ten, right?"
Tommy nodded. "Anything over that, I'm going for new," he said.
The man was red-faced and sweaty. "How soon you want it?" he asked. "I gotta talk to the boss. Maybe, since you're paying cash, I can talk him down to ten. It ain't gonna be easy, but I'll give it a shot.
"How long will it take?" Tommy asked. He felt good about the way things had turned out. He'd bested a used car salesman the first time he bought a vehicle.
"Come back this afternoon," the salesman said. "I can let you know then."
Tommy looked at his watch. "I have to be to work at three," he said. "Its one now. I'll get a cashier's check and come back in an hour."
"Ah, sure, why not?" the man said. "See you in an hour."
Tommy headed for the lawyer's office. Attorney Brothers was red-faced with mirth after the young man finished relating his dickering session with the car salesman. "You know, young man, you are going to do all right if you conduct all your business that adroitly," the lawyer said. "I'll call the bank and have them issue a cashier's check for the amount you need. What about insurance and registration?"
Tommy gave him the name of his parents' insurance agent. Attorney Brothers said he'd call the agent and assure him of payment. All Tommy had to do was give the agent the information about the truck once he had it.
After leaving the lawyer's office, Tommy drove to the bank, then dropped the car off at Karen's and walked to the car lot. The salesman was out, talking with a young couple. When he saw Tommy, he excused himself and hurried over. "I had a helluva time," he said, "but I got the boss to go along with your deal. You got the money?"
"I do," Tommy said. "Why don't we finish the paperwork? I have to get to work."
"Ah, sure, let's go in my office," the man said.
A little under an hour later, Tommy climbed into his truck, put the key in the ignition, and fired it up. It sounded good. He put it in gear and pulled out of the lot.
The salesman had gone back to other customers and didn't even look when the truck left the lot. Tommy had the impression the salesman wasn't happy about the way he had treated him, but that was too bad.
Tina was just arriving at the Inn when Tommy pulled up. She waited while he parked the truck. "What's that?" she asked, nodding in the direction of the truck.
"My new truck," Tommy replied. "I just got it."
"It's nice," Tina said. "Pretty fancy."
"If you treat me nice, I'll give you a ride," Tommy replied, smiling.
"I might take you up on that," Tina answered, grinning back at him.
Tina made such a fuss about the new truck that Tommy had to show it to Mr. and Mrs. Dreisbach, who also fussed about it. The young man was a little embarrassed by their effusive praise.
The Inn was busy, which made the evening go quickly. Soon it was time to close.
"Is Greg still away?" Tommy asked Tina as they filled salt and pepper shakers.
"He won't be back until Monday," she replied.
"Then you need a ride home," he said.
She smiled at him and said, "I guess I do."
They left the inn, climbed into the truck, and headed down the street.
"This is impressive," Tina commented as they drove toward her apartment building. "Am I wrong, or does it even have air conditioning?"
"It has everything," Tommy said. "I picked it up on my way to work, so I haven't had a chance to find out what everything does."
"The radio sounds good," Tina said.
"It does, doesn't it?" Tommy agreed. "I think there are six or eight speakers in here somewhere."
Tina looked behind the front seats, at the small jump seats behind them. "I like the cab," she said. "Lots of room."
"I got it because I needed a place for Bobby to sit when we go to the amusement park," Tommy said.
Tina laughed. "Yeah, sure!" she said. "You want me to believe you bought this just so Bobby would have a place to sit?"
"I did," Tommy said. "Of course, there were other reasons, too." He had an idea. "We got out early. Want to go for a little ride?"
"Why not? Tina said.
Tommy headed on out of town. That Tina was willing to go for a ride with him made him feel good, even though he knew it probably didn't mean anything other than that she liked being with him. Like a little brother.
"How are things between you and Greg?" he asked.
"OK, I guess," she said. "Bobby still isn't warming up to him, though. I don't understand it. Greg tries hard to be nice to Bobby. He brings him gifts, but Bobby doesn't thank him, or even play with the stuff.
"You know," Tommy ventured, "People say kids and dogs can tell if someone's OK or not."
"Tommy, that's not nice," Tina responded. "Greg's a very nice person. I mean, he's thoughtful and gentle, and..."
"I'm sorry," Tommy said. He didn't want to upset her. "I was just teasing. Bobby will come around. Give him a little time."
Tina sighed. "I hope so," she said.
There was a twenty-four hour convenience store just ahead. "Want a soda?" Tommy asked.
"Sure. Diet, though. I have to watch my weight," Tina told him.
Tommy pulled into the parking lot of the store, got out of the truck, and walked inside. When he did, he saw a car pull to the side of the road a little way back. There had been lights following them earlier, but he hadn't been paying attention. He'd been more interested in making the most of the time he had alone with Tina.
"Have you heard from your ex lately?" he asked when he got back in the truck. He handed Tina her soda.
"You know, I haven't," she said. "Actually, I'd been wondering about it. It's been so long since he left me alone I guess I've just been trying to enjoy it and not think about it. What made you ask?"
"No reason," Tommy said, "I just wondered." He was more careful about watching behind him after seeing the car. The lights were still there, a distance back, but constantly behind them. He knew it was the same car, because one of the parking lights was out. He drove along country roads, some of which weren't that heavily traveled. He knew the area well, and since the truck was four wheel drive, he thought of a way to see if the car really was following them.
"Want to try some four-wheeling?" he asked Tina as they approached a rugged side road.
Tina smiled and shrugged. "Why not?" she said. "it's your truck."
Tommy turned off the highway onto the side road. The road was fairly good near the highway, but turned into a rutted, rugged trail after a mile or so. He shifted the truck into all-wheel drive and kept going, bouncing wildly on the rough road. He flipped a switch under the dash and the row of lights above the cab came on, lighting the way ahead with daylight brilliance.
"Wow!" Tina exclaimed. "Those lights are bright!"
"Yeah, they sure are," Tommy agreed as he guided the truck through the ruts carefully. "They're really nice for this kind of thing. I'm not sure I'd be able to see where I was going with just the regular headlights." He checked the mirrors. There were no lights behind him any more. He smiled.
"You sure this won't hurt your truck?" Tina asked as they twisted and jolted over the rugged road, being thrown against their seat belts.
"This is the kind of thing this truck is meant for," he said. "And it seems to be working pretty well.
"Actually, this is neat," Tina commented as they crested a hill and started down the other side. The road began smoothing out.
"It is, isn't it?" Tommy agreed. "We'll have to bring Bobby along next time.
"You really like him, don't you?" Tina asked. "He likes you, too. All he does is talk about the day we went to the park. When I told him you were taking us to the amusement park, I thought he was going to explode he was so excited."
"He's a really neat kid," Tommy said. "I like him a lot."
"You are unusual, you know that?" Tina said, looking at him with more than a little interest. "Most single guys have a problem with kids who aren't theirs."
"Aw shucks," Tommy said. He turned onto the main road, switched off the driving lights, and put the truck back in two wheel drive, then started back toward town. Fifteen minutes later, he dropped Tina off at her apartment, then headed for Aunt Karen's house.
He smiled when he saw Bud's car parked in front of the garage, and noticed that the house was dark. Apparently Bud and his aunt were getting along very well. He liked that a lot. He parked the truck behind his folks' car, got out, and went into the house.
As he undressed, he realized he hadn't called Donna, but given the fact he'd had such a nice evening with Tina, that really didn't matter. "Most single guys," Tina had said, "not single guys your age." He allowed himself a little hopefulness. The fact that Bobby didn't like Greg didn't upset him, either, even though Tina's stalwart defense of the man did. As far as Tommy was concerned, the guy was still a jerk.
He slid into bed, pulled the covers over himself, and went to sleep.