Friday, December 12, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 68

The urge, of course, is to panic. I mean, this b.s. is not fooling Creeper. But -- and this is a big but, a real redline rule of sales -- to switch arguments now is guaranteed failure. Positive doom.

Think Niagara Falls in a tea cup.

See, with any client, you can never give up, never let them believe they know better than you. You have to maintain expert status or the whole relationship sinks. You just keep pushing benefits, asking for the order.

When he can, a big hitter like my ex-pal Walter Osgood will pick on some unique area of the client’s psyche, some hollow point where the customer is particularly soft and vulnerable.

What was that story Beth told me about her time with Creeper?

“Max,” I say. “Your boss is dead. So’s your friend Jerry. Where the hell are you going to go? Back to the circus? Maybe they’ll let you clean the cages of the lions and tigers. Those big smelly cats.”

Creeper jams the lock through both ends of the chain, his jaw muscles flexing. But he hesitates...frowning before snapping that puppy shut. Oh. My. God. He’s thinking about it. Creeper’s actually considering my desperate and semi-ridiculous proposal.

Time to ask for the order.

“Work for me, Max. You won’t be sorry. Let’s go to my office right now, I’ll write you that check for fifty thou. What do you say?”

Creeper stares at the still-open padlock. A passenger jet heading into Liberty-Newark cruises low in the steel blue morning sky. My heart knocks against my ribs.

Click. Creeper locks me up. The chain around me seems to double in weight, an anchor pushing me against the aluminum hull of the boat.

“Max no talk good,” he says. “Cannot be stockbroker.”

I work hard to keep my five o’clock-in-the-morning, full-boat Carr smile. I know it looks bad. I mean, he shut the padlock, converting my ass into a two-hundred-fifty-pound, semi-verbal fishing sinker. But the truth is, I swear I’ve almost got him. I know it sounds nuts, but I’m telling you. I’m close to closing him. Come on, Carr. Drive this big ugly puppy into the doghouse.

“You don’t have to be a stockbroker.” I say. “In fact, you don’t have to say a word to anybody if you don’t want to. I’ll tell my employees you’re a mute.”

Max shakes his head. “You big liar. Your own daughter say so. Also a wimp. Elizabeth tell me about your electrical sex with own wife.”

Huh? How does Beth know about that? “You mean Susan’s Mobachi 3000?”

Max snorts. Then laughs. “Ha.”

At least snorting is what I think his thick ugly nostrils are doing. He could be just cleaning his nose. I guess you don’t pick up a lot of social etiquette wrestling bears.

I take a deep breath. Turn it around, Mr. Golden Tongue. Turn this wimp thing around.

“That should make this decision easy,“ I say. “I’m a trusting soul, Max. It’s true. I want to get along, let everybody do what they have to do. For a tough guy like you, I’ll always be an easy mark. In other words, I’m such a wimp, you can always kill me later. Anytime you feel like it. Like after you cash that fifty-thousand-dollar check.”

Creeper’s gaze falls to the padlock. “Is stupid idea. Max no stockbroker.”

Son-of-a-bitch, this sale is still alive. “Forget stockbrokers, Max. You say nothing to anyone, except maybe ‘Get the fuck out of my way.’ I want you to drive my car, Max, be my bodyguard. Gina and Tony’s friends might try something.”

Creeper fingers the lock. His gaze climbs to the brightening Sunday morning sky. I can almost hear Creeper’s square head ticking.

Slowly, he twists his face to look at me. I sense curiosity in his gray eyes.

“What kind of car Max drive?”

Only two more chapters left in BIG MONEY. Tune in next weekend.

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