“I’m not going to accept anything other than a full refund.”
I look around at other customers, with whom I make eye contact. Rule one; make a connection with your audience. The five foot four cheese standing in front of me, named Chris, is looking at me in disbelief. He can’t handle this right now, he isn’t paid enough. Rule two; know your enemy. Short and dumpy stature means insecurity, he’ll melt under pressure. Nails chewed down to a sliver of cuticle means nervous which makes him vulnerable. How can he portray confidence when he’s nervous?
“Sorry. Uh, well you, yeah. You only purchased, the one year, warranty.” In my Italian tailored suit, commander posture and million dollar education one thing is very clear to this audience, I’m worth more than this guy, which means my opinion is worth more.
“We’re In America, the country where consumers are the blood of the nation, and you’re going to tell me, the consumer, what I purchased? I most certainly did not purchase a simple one-year warranty; I purchased a Three-Year no questions asked insurance policy, which should be named an undocumented no-help-at-all shirade. I also, as a matter of fact, have half a mind to call up the Better Business Bureau and tell them all about this catch-and-switch scheme you have running here. Not just for me, or for my son, David.” I put an assuring hand on the shoulder of my son’s soccer jersey. “But for all the fathers, all the sons and all the families, of this great nation and I will remind them of what it is to be an American. I will remind them of what it means to be cared about by the businesses we support.”
Murmurs fill the small general electronics store, but I keep my attention focused at Christ. He can’t hold eye contact with me and is looking at everything and anything else. From the audience’s perspective he’s actually looking extremely guilty. I gesture for Chris, and lean forward, whispering into his ear, “Listen, I can keep this tirade up all day, I do it for a living. How about we spare you the pain of that and you just replace my son’s twenty-dollar pair of headphones. Not such a bad price, and they were shoddy, broke like a toy from McDonalds. Just replace them and I’ll be on my way. Not such a bad price.”
Chris sighs through a frown. “Only if you leave.” The warrior inside me roars; I’ve won. Once David has new headphones in his hands he bolts out of the store, heading straight to the car. I follow him out and leave Chris to handle his riled up customers.
When we arrive home, Cindy has dinner on the table. “How’d it go?” She asks as we settle into a meal of mashed potatoes, pot roast and steamed vegetables. She slices through the tender roast like butter, the large knife carving a thick slab of delicious meat.
“Well, David. How’d it go?”
David looks up from his iPod, already connected to his new headphones. “Dad owned some guy, he made him look stupid. The guy didn’t want to fix the headphones but Dad made him.”
Cindy beams at me, smiling and twirling her blonde hair. She’s aroused, I’d have to capitalize on that when I got back home. Success and perfection is a very potent aphrodisiac. I’m undoubtedly an alpha wolf, the big beast that takes any ***** he wants and rips out the throat of his rival, then places the pulsing piece of flesh at the foot of his mate.
“David’s recollection is spot-on. This community-college dope tried to say that we didn’t have some warranty. I did my thing and he folded like a lawn chair.”
After dinner, I drive David to his soccer game. I spend the first half fantasizing about Cindy, naked in chains, bent over a toilet and a delicious variety of other depraved scenes. As I turn left onto Windsor Drive, I turn to my son and tap him on the shoulder. He unplugs his headphones and looks at me expectedly.
“What are you listening to?”
“Hall & Oates.” I smile and ruffle his hair. He has asked me recently, what some good music was so I told him some of my favorites, one being Hall & Oates.
“Are you ready for your game? Going to destroy your competition?”
He sits up and nods, his face turning grim.
“That’s my boy, all that matters in this life we live is winning son. If you’re not a winner, you’ve wasted your time here. Which reminds me, you’re getting a bit older now. It’s time to start thinking about your future. In that respect, I have only one piece of advice. Choose carefully, and choose something that will make you rich. Life is a game, just like soccer, and having money is like adding speed and size. The more cash you have, the harder it will be for the other team to catch you, the harder it will be to take the ball away. You want to be the one with the ball right?” David nods, his face a mask of solemnity. “Of course you do, you’re my son. Money is power, respect, happiness and everyone wants it. The key is you have to be more desperate than anyone, more willing to do anything to get it. When you play today, I want you to imagine the ball is wealth, and you need to be willing to out-work your opponents to get it. You need to be willing to get your nose dirty, to grind away. I know you can do it son. After you have the ball is important as well, what do you do when you get it?”
“Pass it to a team-mate?”
I smile lovingly at my son. Still so young and idealistic. “No son, you carry it as fast as you can and you score. You fire that ball into the net with all the effort of every muscle and tendon in your body. Take the ball, and score.”
He nods slowly and I pull into the parking lot, past a waiting car and into a recently vacated parking spot. The guy honks a couple of times but I ignore him. I turn to David.
“Remember, play with intensity, getting the ball is the most important thing in the world. It will change your life. It will give you everything you’ve ever wanted. Once you have it, take it to the other end and score.”
At seven, I get out of my car and walk over to the benches beside the field. My son stands watching the coach, with all the other boys. He’s got the number eight on his little jersey. His childish features are frozen in a mask of solemnity, his mouth feverishly whispering. As I told him, he was doubtlessly ignoring his supposed coach, who teaches that sports are fun. His coach who’s probably a fireman or god knows what else. Not the ideal role model by any stretch.
David subs out to the start the game, which really gets me going. He’s better than the other kids for Christ sakes. A bunch of kids coast around on autopilot so I check my Smartphone and browse for a bit. Then I glance up and David is trotting out. I quickly turn off my phone and watch in rapture.
The other team starts with it and David attacks, running like a shot, his legs a blur. He takes the ball and then carries it forward with tremendous speed, running easily between two defenders and then firing the ball into the upper corner of the net. I jump up and cheer, while punching the air.
“Thatta boy David.” I yell as he jogs back to the defensive side smiling broadly. David scores two more goals and plays a great game, full of hustle. Near the end of the game a defender is sprinting the ball up field and David is angling him off. The boy is a lot bigger than David, about six feet, while David is only five four. David jogs alongside him, struggling to check the ball off of him. This is a test for my son, and I hold my breath. David jogs along, and then raises his left foot, his knee almost touching his chest, and then slams his foot into the taller player’s knee. After a tremendous crack, the player falls immediately and starts screaming, his leg bent at an alien angle. David steals the ball and sprints it towards the other teams goalie. He ignores the screeching of the whistle and fires the ball into the net, although the goalie did not try to stop it. I almost cry, I am so damn proud, but I manage to keep it together.
David is ejected from the game, and I promise the ref I’ll have his job, that he’s sending the wrong message. David sits silently in the car for most of the ride home, and I let him be, let him think of what he’s done. When we arrive home, I turn off the engine and then sit calmly in the silence.
“Thanks for helping me, that was my best game ever just about.”
“It’s so easy, is life that easy? I just have to be willing to fight for everything? “
“When you’re blessed with our intelligence, it sure is son. Most people don’t see things that way, which makes it a whole lot easier. That’s why you got kicked out. They can’t come to terms with success. They get all caught up in ethics and morality, which is secondary to happiness, or it should be.”
David nods. “I didn’t even feel bad for that big kid. He just became an obstacle that stood in the way, and when I got rid of him, it felt good.”
“Damn right it did son. Being a winner feels good. It feels really good.”
We sit in silence a moment longer. Then David turns to me.
“Will you always love me dad?”
“Of course son, always.”
“I should do anything I can to get money? Money’s more important than the ball right? I mean the ball just represents money. I can’t be a winner in real life with a ball, it doesn’t mean anything, but with money I could, right?”
“That’s right son. “
David gets out, then I follow and we walk to the front door. The sun is setting just over the wall of hedge that surrounds the house, casting an orange-yellow splash in the sky. I put my arm around David’s shoulders and we walk inside.
I lie in bed, energy all used up. All the bleeding hearts would try and convince you that human beings weren’t animals, that we’re something more evolved, better. I just proved them wrong with Cindy. She lies with her eyes closed, exhausted. She’s been through a lot. I get up and enter the bathroom, looking for something to wipe her face off with.
I admire myself in the mirror, running my hands over my sculpted chest and perfect spherical nipples. I am startled by a bone-chilling scream. I run out of the bathroom, throwing the door open.
David kneels over Cindy, jabbing her motionless body with a large stainless steel kitchen knife, tearing the sheets and flesh, splattering blood all over the king-size bed. His head whips towards he and me bounds off the bed and walks in my direction.
“Sorry it has to be this way Dad, but I’m sure you understand. You’re my greatest inspiration after all.”
He drives the knife into my meaty thigh and I cry out and fall to one knee. He withdraws the knife, blood squirting from the ravine in my leg.
“What are you doing?” I scream in horror.
“I’m taking the ball. I’m scoring. What’s yours will become mine.”
I claw desperately at the knife, but he holds it out of my reach and then winds back his arm, preparing for the killshot. I am terrified, sad but also proud.
“I love you Dad.”
I open my mouth, but never speak.