The following was a chapter originally included in a novel in progress but later removed during revisions. It’s point of view followed a supporting character, the main character’s sister. It was too much of a shift for potential readers. However, I liked the story enough to keep it and dress it up a bit. It is based on a true story and as it is set in the summer of 1964, I researched car prices. They are realistic too. Enjoy!
Joy focused the red Corvair Monza GT convertible in the brochure she’d been looking at, on and off, since it had arrived a few days ago from Wade-Walsh Chevrolet in Springfield, Ohio. It was exactly what she wanted. But what were the chances Dad would get her one as an early graduation present? Still, he had promised to take her car shopping and that was a start. Going into her senior year at Southeastern High having any car was better than riding the bus.
Come next June she’d be the first in her immediate family to graduate from high school, achieving a goal that had been impossible for her mother and father thirty years before. All three kids were expected to go on to college too. Bruce and Alta saved for all their lives with that goal in mind. Joy was to be the first though she was not the favorite, at least not in her mind. Both Jean and Elliot, her siblings were better at schoolwork. Maybe they were smarter in that way. Anyway, one of them would probably live up to Dad and Mom’s dream.
Joy didn’t think she was cut out for college. Honestly, except for seeing her friends and hanging out with them, she hated school. She’d taken typing classes because she figured she would eventually become a secretary. She’d thought about learning to be a beautician but she’d already mastered typing. She could do seventy-five words per minute – sometimes a little more.
“You ‘bout ready?” her father’s voice accompanied the knock at her bedroom door.
“For over an hour,” she responded as she leapt up and opened the door.
“I had to get everyone settled on what to do today while I’m gone. Anyway, by the time we get to Springfield it will be past rush hour.”
“Can I drive?” Joy asked, not really sure Bruce would let her, but sometimes he did.
“Maybe it’d be better if I did.”
“I’ve driven in the city before.”
“Not all the way downtown. It’s tricky with the one-way streets.”
“Fine,” she said not wanting to press the issue too far. After all, Dad was taking her to look at cars. No point in ruining his mood.
“We’re just looking today,” Bruce said as they headed out the door toward the candy apple red Impala convertible that he bought about a year ago from the very same dealership where they were going.
“I know that.” She skirted the front of the car to the passenger side, opened the door and climbed in.
“Dealerships want to sell something to everybody who walked in. It’s their business. They don’t want anyone to leave without buying a car. So they can be pretty aggressive. If you tell them up front that you’re just looking, sometimes they’ll leave you alone for a while. Get it?”
“Good. Now, I’m not promising anything but I’m bringing a blank check with me, just in case.”
“So we might actually get a car then?”
“We might. You never know.” He reached over and patted her knee. “Why don’t we flip the latches and let the top down – unless you don’t ant your hair all messed up with the wind.”
“I can pull it back into a pony tail.”
“That’s my girl!” Bruce chuckled.
Fifteen miles of looking out at the scenery – the wind blowing by fast and noisily, too much so for a conversation – Joy sat in silence, not wanting to get her hops too high. Even when they slowed down to the speed limit of the city, when they might have carried on a conversation, neither of them spoke. Dad had the radio’s volume cranked up, tuned to WLW, listening to the news between music.
When they arrived at the dealerships they pulled up to the front and got out. Bruce held the door for his daughter while she entered. Instantly she spotted the Corvair convertible on display. It was perfect, even better than the one in the brochure: burgundy with a white top, matching seats with burgundy carpeting. Immediately she opened the driver’s side door and sat inside, resting her hand on the knob of the four-on-the-floor shifter. She wanted it so bad she could almost taste it as her eyes darted from feature to feature, finally resting on the radio just as the voice of a salesman interrupted her daydream.
“She’s a beauty,” Eddie, the “up” salesman, said before adding. “And she’s loaded, too. I don’t think there’s another option you could put on her. Maybe air conditioning, but who needs that when you have a convertible?”
“It’s very nice.” Joy made brief eye contact with him.
“I’m Eddie.” He offered his hand.
“Joy.” She stepped out of the car and studied him briefly before shaking hands. He was so young, maybe twenty at most and dressed sharply, wore a flattop haircut and, despite the warm weather, he wore a necktie and white long-sleeved shirt. From the short distance between them she caught the combined scents of Vitalis scent of Old Spice – the latter was the same as her Dad wore, or was the scent wafting from her Dad who approached them from behind.
“I’m Bruce, her father,” Dad stepped between them. Eddie offered his hand and they shook “Is that a Kentucky accent I hear?”
“Yes sir. Born and raised on a farm outside of Ashland – close to a little town you probably never heard of.”
“I don’t know about that. I grew up in Morgan County. Moved here in ’37. Lived here long enough to lose my accent, I guess. I have cousins in Catlettsburg.”
“No kidding. My folks’ farm is five miles from there.” Eddie laughed, becoming more comfortable. “Everybody is someone’s cousin back home. For all I know we could be related.”
“So is this the car you going to buy today?” Eddie floated a trial close.
“It seems awfully small to me.” Bruce replied on his daughter’s behalf.
“Sometimes that’s a good thing. I assume the Impala you pulled up in is a V-8.”
“A 283 – bought it here last year.”
“Has it been a good car for you?”
“This baby here has rear-mounted, air cooled V-6 and a four-speed, manual transmission. Are you comfortable with that, Joy?”
“She drives my pick-up,” Bruce answered for her. “It’s a manual.”
“What are we looking at for a price?” Bruce ventured.
“We can make it work for you, Bruce. You’re not going to pay too much are you?”
“Of course not.”
“Well, that’s good, ‘cause we never overcharge our customers. You say you bought the Impala here? Who was your salesman? I mean if you had a good relationship…”
“I always deal directly with Pete. Actually the day that car came in for Mr. Walsh’s use, I bought it out from under him.”
Eddie laughed. “That’s happened a lot. He has good taste in cars, I guess.”
“He’s the boss.”
“Yeah and he can drive any car he wants. That Corvette over there was his for a few days but he said it’s too flashy.”
“That sounds about like him.”
“Listen, Bruce, why don’t you and Joy take the Corvair out for a drive. Get the feel of it and make sure it’s exactly what you want. Then, when you get back, we can sit down and go over the numbers so that Joy can drive it home today.”
“We’re sort of just looking today,” Joy said.
“Well, take your time. If there are any questions, just ask. Since you’re one of our preferred customers, you know you can drive it for as long as you want. Take it home, show it off. Just let me know and I can get a dealer tag for you…”
“We live over fifteen miles away.”
“That’s no problem at all, Joy.”
“We’ll drive it around town, maybe take it out on US-40 to open it up a bit,” Bruce said.
“Great! That’s exactly what you should do. Let me get the keys and a dealer tag and we can take it outside for you.”
Having seen Bruce and Joy enter the showroom, Pete, the sales manager, freed himself and walked their way. “Bruce, it’s always a pleasure. Did you get the brochures?”
“Yes, we did.” Joy answered.
“This can’t be little Joy. You said she’s going to be a senior this year – how fast they grow up, right? Why, I recall you sitting on your dad’s lap when I sold him a pick-up – a blue one as I recall. That was one of the first vehicles I ever sold.” Pete chuckled. “And you really made me work for it!”
“I’ve still got that truck.”
“It’s been a good one, then. I definitely sold you the right truck.”
“I’ve got no complaints.”
“So, has Eddie been treating you well?”
“He likes to talk.”
“That’s the nature of the business. You know that, Bruce.”
“Anyway he’s from Kentucky.”
“So he is. You grew up there, too, right?”
“He lived close to a couple of my cousins.”
Eddie returned, keys and dealer’s place in hand. “They want to test drive the Corvair.” He directed to his boss.
“That’s great! Bruce is family, Eddie. You take extra special care with him.”
When Bruce and Joy returned from their test drive, they immediately mentioned that something was rattling.
“We can have our Service Manager check that out it right away,” Eddie promised.
“It needs to be fixed before we make any deal,” Joy stated, exactly as Bruce had told her.
“What speed did you notice it?”
“Not fast. Around forty?”
“Kurt can fix that. I’ll get him right on it. Was there anything else that caught your eye? Something you’d like to test drive?”
“She likes that car. It’s just the noise…”
“I’m sure it’s a minor thing. Thousands of parts and something just wasn’t tightened well enough. You never know until you drive it.”
“So, what kind of price are we talking about?” Bruce asked.
“Are you going to finance it?”
“It’ll be cash,” Bruce said.
“Great! And no trade-in makes it simple. Let me get all the information and we can sit down and work out the numbers. We can go over here and sit down. You need anything: coffee, water, soda pop?”
“Pop os fine,” Joy said.
“I’ll be right back.”
When Eddie delivered the drinks he excused himself to Pete’s office and waited outside the door until he was called inside. Pete jotted down a figure and patted Eddie on the back.
Eddie returned smiling broadly, “I think you’re going to be very happy. The list on that car is $2556.90 but your price today is $2250.”
“That’s more than I paid for the Impala,” Bruce complained.
“Everything goes up. Plus the Corvair is very popular and that one’s fully loaded.”
“Isn’t this the end of the model year?”
“It is, Bruce. That’s $100 and Pete’s doubling it plus an additional $100 preferred customer discount.”
“It’s still more than I’m going to pay.”
“Let’s work on it. You tell me what you think is fair and I’ll present that to Pete. It can’t hurt to try, right?”
“I was thinking two grand.”
“Let me jot that down. If we can get it down to $2000, are you ready to buy today?”
“If you can do that.”
“What about $2050? Is that doable?”
“See about $2000.”
“Okay, just do me a favor, initial this to show that’s your best offer.”
Bruce obliged but once Eddie was out of earshot Bruce leaned over and whispered to his daughter. “He’s working us.”
“Yeah, I kind of got that.”
As Eddie returned his smile was even broader. “I think we’re there, Bruce and Joy. We’ll gas it up, polish it, and give you your first oil change on the house.”
“Well, thanks for trying.” Bruce started to stand. “Tell Pete we tried.”
“We can still make this work. I mean we’re close to a deal here.”
“I can write you a check for $2000.”
“We all want to see Joy driving that car today, Bruce–”
“Look, I appreciate you working with us. I want you to earn some money, too. But I think $2150 is too much.”
“To be honest with you, $2000 is pretty low. That’s the hard part. If you could meet us halfway maybe that could work. Say $2075 or $2100?”
“What about $2000? If that is never going to happen just tell me.”
“Let me work on Pete. Okay? Because you’re a loyal customer.”
Behind Eddie’s departure, Joy whispered. “Is $2000 reasonable?”
“That’s all I’m paying. Pete’s training this guy and letting it go as far as it will.”
Eddie wore his most confident smile when he came back. “Because it’s you, Bruce, we can do it for $2075. That’s right at dead cost. We’ll do that for you.”
Bruce started to stand, again.
“Wait, let me ask you this: is there anything you don’t like about the car? We’re taking care of that noise thing, but is there anything we could add on?”
“Isn’t it fully loaded already?” Joy asked.
“There’s always something else we could add on. And, as Bruce can tell you, there’s more room in the price of accessories. Maybe we can strike a deal with just a little bit more money and bury cost in the price of the vehicle.”
“Look, the deal is for $2000 as is or there’s no deal,” Bruce interjected.
Eddie nodded before he excused himself one last time to talk to Pete.
“We’re just about finished,” Bruce whispered to Joy.
“I really like that car, Daddy.”
“Pete will make a deal. He always does.”
This time Eddie returned along with Pete. As they both sat down across the table from Bruce and Joy. Pete focused on Joy’s eyes. “This will be your first car?”
“That remains to be seen, Mr. Cook.”
“It’s Pete, Joy. It’s always Pete, especially when you’re buying your first car from me.”
“We don’t have a deal, yet.”
“We will. I promise. Bruce and I have been haggling over prices for years. Isn’t that right?”
“We’ve done some trading.”
“Bruce and I were just talking earlier. One of my first sales was a truck he still drives.” He explained to Eddie. “That was probably the hardest sale I ever made but I also learned a lot. Eddie says we’re close, here. Seventy-five dollars is close.”
“It’s still a lot of money,” Bruce said.
“Sure it is, Bruce, but it’s like less than 4% of the price. So, we’re haggling over the sales tax!”
“What do you need to make a deal?” Bruce focused on Pete’s eyes.
“Eddie, this is what you needed to learn, getting to the point of asking Bruce what he just asked me. Bruce is a tough negotiator. He learned horse tradin’ from his father. Car deals aren’t much different.”
“Is $2000 doable?”
“That’s very low, Bruce. Mr. Walsh would have to approve that because he wouldn’t make anything on the vehicle and Eddie would get what we call a flat, just base pay for his time.”
“Exactly. That happens sometimes. A salesman on commission gets some of those and so be it. What we all want to see is Joy in that car. I’m in the kind of business where I can make people’s dreams come true. Ever since I realized that I never wanted to do anything else.”
“Let’s do it this way,” Bruce began. “Eddie needs to make a little something. He’s worked pretty hard here.”
“Just he didn’t close the deal.”
“I’ll bet the next deal he’ll close without your help.”
Pete chuckled as he turned to Eddie. “I threw you a curve letting you negotiate with Bruce.” He cleared his throat. “Let’s make the deal for $2050. That way Eddie can show a small profit and make a little money.”
“Let’s do it for $2075, tax, title and all. That way Eddie makes a little more profit. And you throw in a tank of gas; shine it up really good with three coats of wax and two free oil changes.”
Pete smiled broadly, offering his hand across the table to Bruce. “You sign the check and we’ll draw up the paperwork. Eddie can deliver the car to your house when they are all done with it. I’ll have the Service Manager do the same inspection we give to a trade-in just to make sure everything is right and tight. How’s that?”
“I’ll give Eddie a ride back,” Bruce said. “I’m thinking of trading-in that old blue pick-up if you have something I like.”
“Well then, while we get everything in order why don’t you take a walk out on the lot and see if any of those trucks catches your eye.”
#ShortStory #TheDeal #CarDeals #60s #Nostalgia #HorseTradin #Negotiation