Written by Lin Stone
Design and Layout Copyright © 1999 by Browzer Books
ALL Rights to Original Work Reserved to the creators.
Leon and I had been on the farm together, years ago -- two men on a shovel and vowing that someday, someday we were going to make it, and make it big. When I saw him at the big state sale I ran over and hugged him.
The farm takes a lot out of you. There was nothing left of Leon but bones. His face was drawn and haggard as he perched back on his tailgate.
There was a beautiful cedar chest and two porch swings he'd made himself sitting on the ground about 12 feet away. I sat down beside him and opened up the most popular subject in the world -- the good old days. As we talked, a lady walked up to look his merchandise over, then walked off. Leon never said a word, just watched her go.
I marveled at that. He was rich enough to let a customer walk off! "How much are you selling?"
"I haven't sold a thing today," he admitted. "I didn't sell anything at all last week either. But the week before that I sold $200 worth."
I studied the chest: It was 30" tall, 24" wide and 48" long, hand finished.
"You're sitting on a goldmine," I told him. A chest like that is selling for $500 downtown."
"All I want is a hunderd dollars," he sighed. "And I ain't getting it."
Another customer walked up, looked at the chest and called his mate over. After studying the inside they nodded, and walked away. Leon watched them go, sighing. "I sure wish somebody was interested enough they would ask me something. But nobody today has asked me a question."
I almost fell off the tailgate. "You mean, you don't do ANY selling?"
"I let my merchandise do my talking," he responded.
"Do you at least have some business cards?"
"I've been thinking about getting some," He sighed. "I should order them next week, sure thing, don't you think?"
We'd been on the farm together. I wanted Leon to make it. I decided to show Leon just how easy it was to sell. "Do you mind if I tell the next people something?"
He didn't mind a bit.
Minutes later there was someone there. I leaped up and told him that the cedar chest he was looking at was discounted to $100, and "we" would custom-build a chest just for him if he wanted one that looked any different. "Well, I want one with a false bottom."
I signaled for Leon to come over. "He wants a false bottom, six inches deep and all the way across. Can you do that?"
"It would have to cost more," Leon protested earnestly.
"How much more?" asked the customer.
Leon paused, swallowed, then ducked his head and muttered: "$125!"
"How much for the whole thing then?" asked the customer.
Leon was confused.
He glanced at me, then the customer.
"$125," Leon whispered.
He was even more confused when the customer jerked his billfold out and paid him on the spot so Leon would be sure to bring the chest next week.
"See how easy that was?" I asked.
His eyes rolled. "I could never push my way over to talk to him like that."
"Leon, you're in business now, so you'd better start acting like a businessman, or head back to the farm."
"Oh, I'll never go back to the farm," he vowed.
He stared at the money in his hand as if it were a cottonmouth, then shoved it into his pocket.
When I came back an hour later Leon was back perched on the tailgate while a couple looked his merchandise over. As they walked off, he sighed. "You know, this selling is so tough, the farm looks better all the time."
I nodded in sorrow, and walked on.
Leon was sitting on a goldmine.
He was eating dirt.
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