He was in the business of selling stocks in souls for five cents a share. As the supply went down and the demand went up, the price for sale was set to rise exponentially. Profits to be made were at hand. With a black briefcase full of sparks and a fast hands, the graveyard salesman was in it to make quick and easy sales.
He walked up and down the rows of cracked stone grave markers, some old, some new and freshly waxed with fancy gravestone quotes. If one didn’t know any better, one would have thought even in the afterlife there was a caste system readily in place. Some angels were better than others, some devils were of lesser evils. Some required so much paperwork that the others didn’t know where to send them. “Aaaaaah, take a number and have a seat,” a woman in stiletto heels and a fat cigar lit in her mouth mumbled in between puffs at the pearly gates. She shuffled a mound of paperwork restlessly, some blowing down and torching at the edges, others blowing in the wind and evaporating in the clouds. ” Eh, just go back, there’s too much paperwork and we don’t have the time.”
But that was then, this was here. Here was a dark night out of a Hollywood B-side movie on a rainy night as the wolves howled in the distance, the owl hooted from a direction the wind would not suggest, and nobody was around but a weary traveler and a graveyard full of healthy ghosts from different eras and strange, separate but elusively still-connected lives.
The graveyard salesman trotted on, passing the traveler and his dirty rucksack where it lay next to a pile of dusty clothes used as a makeshift pillows. He thought of stopping to try and sell him something but years of tele-marketing, social network-marketing, door-to-door selling and graveyard marketing informed him that a living person that slept in graveyards probably didn’t want to buy anything. So he let him peacefully to dream, one half of his mind out of this world, the other half on a pile of crinkled, dirty traveler’s apparel.
” Step right up!,” the graveyard salesman called out as he approached a group of young twenty-somethings dancing to Elvis. They all had died in a car crash years ago. “Step right up and buy something, we’ve got everything you’d ever want! Everything you’ll ever need and then some! Buy it today, not tomorrow! Financing available! Pay installments forever!” (This last tactic only worked since they were already dead and they existed only in a state of foreverism, so there would be plenty of time to pay bills)
The youth kept dancing, the music blasting from a tired set of crackly speakers and a scratchy, dust-blown record player. The voice of Elvis came out of the speakers like a fast-whipping hurricane:
I look at window
and what to I see
I see a bird
way up in the tree
I want to be free free
He offered them an Iphone, for sale on discount since it was a slightly expired model. To this generation, it should be something unimaginably futuristic and something to impress their friends with. The graveyard salesman even offered in a free solar panel thrown in the deal, all only for the price of 299.99, plus taxes, thank you very much, so they could charge their gadgets during the day and use them when they came alive at night.
“Imagine a juke box that fits into the palm of your hand! All of your music to dance to at your fingertips! Everything you could ever need to be happy and then some!”
The group just exchanged confused glances as they turned down the music and they passed.
Onwards to the next gravestone, that a man who died of cancer in his early forties only ten years ago. The man was in a long-sleeve white shirt, black pants and a loosened red tie. His shirt was torn, shredded and his face seemed frozen, unchangeable and blank.
“How about you, good sir? Surely, you would be interested in mortgaging a house for the low, low price of 300,000 dollars!” He popped open his briefcase and sparks and fireworks shot out, lighting the dark night sky. A hologram of a beautiful modern home in suburbia shot up onto display.
“This beauuuuuuuutiful home has 12 bedrooms, three bathrooms, a four-car garage, a 100-acre property that overlooks a beach and if you buy today, we can finance forever with low, low installments of only 200 dollars a month! Surely upon buying this good sir, as I can see you need happiness, you will be the happiest person on your block! All of your neighbors will be jealous and envy of your obvious success! So how about sir? Would you like to sign on the dotted line and move into today? Oh yes, and not to mention the fact that the government is offering a no-tax incentive for buyers that have left this Earth! So how ’bout it buddy? You look like you could use a new home!”
The man shook his head, said nothing and nonchalantly set down an old picture of a woman and two kids, frayed at the edges onto the cold ground. The graveyard salesman moved on, to an old gravestone with cracks and cobwebs draped around it. The man had died in the early 1800s of small pox while in his late-twenties.
The man wore a wig, tight brown pants, black boots, and a dignified tan shirt which had the air of aristocracy. He clearly was of European decent and held a prominent position in the society before he checked out.
“Hello, good fine gentleman! Surely I could think of something just right to sell to you! Surely your wife would like a new dress? How about four new horses for your carriage? The automotive revolution doesn’t come till over 100 years from now, but until then you have plenty of materialistic things to indulge yourself and family into! How about an umbrella to keep you dry amongst all this rain tonight? It’s one that surely has an aura of class for a gentleman of high-society as yourself and it comes with a pair of leather boots, all included complimentary!”
A woman in a long red dress suddenly appeared next to the man, glanced the graveyard salesman up and down and held the 19th century gentleman’s hand. “How about something for the lovely lady? Why yes, surely the lovely lady would like some perfume! I’m not sure how the afterlife smells, but it could always smell better for you! If not that, maybe you’d like to invest in the oil industry? Let me just give you a clever hint that it’s bound to make you a rich man sir! Why yes, I can offer you happiness in the form of tangible things, how ’bout it! Just step right up!”
They declined and went back to dancing to slow music, banjos and acoustic guitar, piano and fiddle.
Gravestone to gravestone and the salesman just wasn’t having any luck. Nothing he wanted to sell could be sold to the ghosts, no matter how hard he tried. His commission rates of zero floated through his head and haunted him as he left the cemetery. The salesman’s boots sunk into the soft mud and a coyote eyed him curiously as he walked out onto the main road, shortly after darting back into the bushes and field just beyond. The sun was now rising and morning was rising in a mist of fog and the rain had transformed into a light mist.
He found the first home he could in the land of suburbia. A newer black SUV and a red car set in a freshly-paved driveway and perfectly manicured lawn. The house belonged to a small family of four yet looked like you could fit about four families of ten inside it comfortably. The graveyard salesman became the suburbia salesman and he knocked firmly, two times on a wooden door.
A woman answered the door, as first tentative, but then seeing his shiny black briefcase and hearing his spill she offered him inside. ” Mam, I can offer you anything you might need. How about a new 30-inch plasma TV? A new Iphone? A shiny new car? A short vacation to a far off land where people serve you as you sip martinis? How about some imitation happiness, manufactured in a country just shortly off our own country’s shores? That’s been selling well lately, lots, lots, LOTS of satisfied customers! Why, of course, we offer payment plans with minimal interest rates!”
Before long, the graveyard salesman’s eyes were lit up in dollars and people from all over the neighborhood were lining right up. “Cometh all ye idiots, gather in long lines of blissful consumerism and order ye IPhones!,” he called out over a loudspeaker. He could always count on the next person in line to spend more money on the bigger and better version than the former.
He poured his profits in his briefcase and set off down the road, with the intention from now on to avoid the living at all costs.
He was in the business of selling souls for ten cents a share; stocks were rising.