I will tell a story today

Hey, everybody,

I am sending the love your way. Have you looked in the mirror and told that beautiful face and soul of yours that you love him/her?

I am going to post the first two chapters of a wonderful book I wrote called The Love Merchant.

come on. just read these first two chapters. Tell me what you think.

If you like it, you have the whole book right here on the website.

here it is…

Lenny never expected it. The past two years had been especially rough and at age twenty-five, he already had a lot of responsibility. He had rushed into marriage just as he had rushed into most things during his life. He had joined the Army on a whim when he was eighteen, served three years, met Donna and after only three months, asked her to marry him. She was twenty and he was twenty-two at the time. Well, who wouldn’t have fallen in love? Donna was fun, shapely and pretty. A perfect lover, a best friend! So they had married and a year and a half later the first baby arrived. A second baby followed a year later. Those great nights in the sack had consequences.

And like so many others, they were slipping deeply into credit card debt. He had been so “clean” getting out of the service and had gone to work for Puffer’s, a local trucking outfit that delivered shipments to the retailers in town. It was a no-thinking job but the first one offered him and so he had taken it. The credit card forms flew in and so furnishing the apartment was easy. Everything seemed easy. Cars. Dinner with friends. And, what was twenty miscellaneous bucks every now and then?

Now, they could hardly make ends meet and they began bickering a lot. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that when money is tight, so are the nerves. He wanted to do better and so he quit Puffer’s for a sales job. The ad had read, minimum wages but opportunity to earn more than $2,000.00 a week. Two thousand a week would be heaven, he thought, a road paved to a better life and the security Donna craved. She would be happy at last, things would get back to normal and maybe she would start turning over to face him in bed again at night like it had been in the beginning. Donna was outraged, however. He had quit his job without discussing it with her and taken minimum wage to sell pressure cookers. She began to scream.

As it turned out, “the screaming” became his inspiration and he was determined to do well. He would sell the hell out of those cookers and turn their lives around. As it turned out, he was soon back knocking on Puffer’s door, wanting his old job back. He got it!

But Puffer’s was not his ambition. And Puffer’s was not Donna’s idea of a career goal either. And anyway, she wanted to get a job and help get them out of debt but this was the one area where Lenny had put his foot down—their babies needed a mom at home until they were at least five and Donna had agreed. She had agreed because Lenny kept promising he’d find his niche and all would be, in his term, okay.

Things got increasingly tense between them; she was accusing him of being a dreamer. I don’t think things will ever be okay, she said. And that hurt Lenny a lot. Maybe the truth was he had fallen “in lust” in the beginning, but now he truly loved Donna and he loved his children. He realized the day was coming when he could lose them all.

For two months he put his application in at numerous places. Someone advertised for an ad executive. He didn’t know anything about advertising but he applied. He answered an ad for a stockbroker’s job. That sounded great to him and they would pay for any classes he needed. They never responded. The jobs he applied for all were no-goes, so there he remained at Puffer’s, making a fair wage, knowing he’d still be making a “fair wage” twenty years from then. He wanted more. He didn’t know how to get it.

john polkThen a stranger in a coffee shop told him Mahoney’s Rent It was opening a new location and they were seeking a person to train for a managerial position. As it turned out, the stranger had worked for Mahoney’s for nearly twenty years. He said it was a great place to work and this was a great opportunity for somebody. Lenny was grateful and excited about the possibility. He knew it was a real shot in the dark but he decided to take it. What the hell; nothing ventured, nothing gained.

He arrived late at Puffer’s that Tuesday morning because he had gone to Mahoney’s main office and filled out an application. He actually felt good about it when he left. The person taking applications was the friendliest face he had greeted in a long time, including at home. Donna had been in such a depression he couldn’t remember the last time she had smiled. Tracy, the woman who had interviewed him, was in her mid-fifties, bright-eyed and enthusiastic. When he left Mahoney’s he felt better about his world. Even if he didn’t get the job, the lady had been so friendly that she had given him the uplift he had needed.

Mahoney’s Rent It already had three locations in town and now there would be a forth. People also franchised them all over the state and the company had truly become a large, successful business. This was one of the reasons Lenny didn’t think he had much of a chance at landing a manager’s position. He had little experience with only two years of business courses behind him and so he didn’t have a degree to back him up. One more trouble spot, he thought.

Three weeks later he got the call. The woman on the phone said he was among the top three candidates for the position and if he was still interested to call for a meeting with Mr. Mahoney himself. The news felt too good to be true. He and Donna celebrated that evening and it turned out to be the nicest time they had in over a year.

That night, before falling to sleep in each other’s arms, Lenny said, “Donna, what I want more than anything is to find some reason to celebrate life. I’m so tired of struggling against it all the time.”

Donna didn’t reply. She simply gave him a tender hug and fell into sleep.

2

Lenny felt anxiety in the pit of his stomach as he walked from his car looking up at the impressive Mahoney Building. He remembered reading in the newspaper years before about David Mahoney’s rags to riches story but he couldn’t remember much about it except that Mr. Mahoney had been born and raised in Virginia. Well, the “riches” part was apparent. The Mahoney Building was modern and an impressive ten stories, not bad for someone who only rented tools and equipment. He loosened his tie a bit because he felt it was choking him and anyway, he wasn’t used to wearing one. He looked down at his brightly shined shoes and continued into the building. There was an African-American woman behind the reception desk who had a most welcoming smile. “Hello,” she said, “I’m Marsha and you must be Lenny.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Take the elevator to the seventh floor.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Don’t be nervous,” Marsha said. “David is a very nice man.”

“Thank you,” Lenny said, managing a smile.

The elevator door opened on the seventh floor to Mr. Mahoney’s office. Just outside the wide arch that led inside was Mr. Mahoney’s secretary. “Good morning, Lenny,” the woman said brightly.

“Good morning.” Lenny managed another smile.

In a moment David Mahoney entered extending his hand in greeting to Lenny. Lenny was a little shocked because Mr. Mahoney’s handshake was as strong as it was friendly. It was the strength in Mr. Mahoney’s hands that surprised Lenny because Mr. Mahoney was an older man. He had to be at least in his early seventies. “Nice meeting you, sir,” Lenny said politely.

“Call me David,” Mr. Mahoney smiled. “Come on Lenny, we’ll talk.”

Lenny glanced at the secretary who was smiling and gave him a positive wave. He followed Mr. Mahoney into his office. It was not what Lenny had expected although he didn’t quite know what to expect. There was a large desk with two armchairs on the client side but on the other side of the big room was a large fireplace with two large leather chairs sitting before it. The entire wall surrounding the fireplace was a library of books from floor to ceiling. “We’ll sit here,” Mr. Mahoney said, sitting down in one of the leather chairs; “it’s a lot nicer than trying to communicate over a desk.”

Lenny nodded and sat across from Mr. Mahoney. “Would you like coffee, tea, a donut, anything?” Mr. Mahoney inquired.

“Coffee would do it,” Lenny shrugged. Mr. Mahoney rose and walked across the room to a door that opened into a small area where coffee was perking. Lenny wished he hadn’t asked for anything. He thought the secretary would bring in the coffee and now there was Mr. Mahoney serving him and that made him feel all the more uncomfortable.

“Cream, sugar?” Mr. Mahoney asked.

“I’ll get it.” Lenny started up from his chair but Mr. Mahoney waved his hand as a signal to stay seated. “Just a little sugar,” Lenny said. “Thank you.”

They sat in silence sipping the hot coffee for a few minutes and Lenny was scanning the books before him. “Are you a reader?” Mr. Mahoney asked.

“Not as much as my wife is,” Lenny answered. The truth was he wasn’t much of a reader at all, but he felt a man with so many books would want him to be a reader and he didn’t want to screw up the interview on a technicality.

“I saw on your application that you’re married. Two children.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Everyone calls me David.”

“Yes, sir…David.” Lenny could hardly get the name out.

“So tell me about yourself.”

“Well…” Lenny was working hard at wanting to say the right thing. Donna would be disappointed if he didn’t get this job. “I was raised here in town and then I was in the service.”

“How’d you like it?”

“It was okay,” Lenny feigned a smile. “I took a college course in business while I was in.”

“That’s good.” Mr. Mahoney looked pleased. “You’re over at Puffer’s now?”

Lenny nodded.

“I’ve met Sal Puffer,” he said. “Kind of a gruff old boy, isn’t he?”

Lenny nodded again. The idea of Mr. Mahoney knowing his boss made him feel uncomfortable. Puffer had no idea he was looking for another job.

“So Lenny, what inspires you to join our team?”

Lenny took a moment to think. He kept feeling on the spot and that every word he muttered would either advance or harm his chances of getting the job. “To be honest with you, Puffer’s is a dead end job and well, I need to earn more and another thing…” Lenny changed his tone. “I always liked going to your place. When I was growing up my Dad and I used to rent a lot of stuff from your yard over on Carson Avenue.”

Mr. Mahoney smiled. “That was number one,” he said and his eyes sparkled at the memory. “It’s still going strong.”

“I haven’t been there for a while,” Lenny said, “but I remember all the tools and the equipment. I used to pass the forklift and I always wanted to take one out for a spin.” There was laughter in his voice. “I was around ourteen,” he added.

“So what kind of salesman are you?” Mr. Mahoney asked pleasantly.

Lenny was taken back by the question. He had never been very good at sales and that was the last thing he wanted Mr. Mahoney to know. “I’m probably best at organization and that sort of thing,” he admitted, but now he was very nervous hoping he had evaded the question without revealing the evading. “But I can sell!”

Mr. Mahoney chuckled a little. “Everybody is in sales one way or another,” he said. “Managers, secretaries, the people in the yard. Why, we’re trying to sell ourselves to each other right now, isn’t that right?”

Lenny felt embarrassed by the question, “Yes sir.”

“As long as you can sell, you’ll always make a good living,” Mr. Mahoney added with a friendly wink.

Lenny nodded. He didn’t know what to say.

 

 

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