I was still stoned when I arrived for a job interview at 16 Flint Street, unable to do much of anything with the perma-grin pasted on my face when Mr. Elliot Goozer greeted me at the door. He was old, probably waist deep in his seventies, gangly with wild, marauding eyes like a character I’d seen in a cartoon somewhere.
He invited me in and I walked into a dizzying haze of mouthwash and Lysol. “Well, thank you for coming out,” he said, taking my coat and offering a glass of Tang and a pickle sandwich. I took him up on both, because like I said about the weed, then settled into the couch.
He asked me what I knew about locks.
“I’m a clean slate,” I shrugged. He nodded like a maniac.
“Well,” he began between clucks and chews of his sandwich. “Let’s finish our lunch and you can join me for my o’clock appointment,” he said as an eyebrow unhinged. “If you’d like of course.”
We took his van. He explained–while nearly killing us–in detail how it used to be an ambulance and how he’d fitted with wooden shelves that jingled with all the locks and keys and dead bolts. He was nuts for sure, but maybe I was too. Why else would I respond to an ad in the paper that mentioned working with ghosts?
“Most of my sales pitches are in the evenings,” he said with a grin. “I’m a night owl of sorts.”
So was I, but only because I hadn’t gotten a job or done much of anything since graduation. Mom had been on my case, but as we pulled into the driveway of a dirty brick ranch house in Green Gables, a so-so neighborhood with sagging fences and barking dogs, I wondered what she’d think of old Elliot here.
“Okay, I think the best approach is over at the side door.”
Best approach? All I knew so far was that Mr. Goozer was a locksmith who liked stoner food. But it appeared that I was to get a free crash course in unconventional sales pitches, not to mention some seriously sketchy shit.
He picked the lock in under ten seconds. We snuck into the kitchen. The television blared from the other room—a televangelist railing about the end of times and the Arab uprising. Mr. Goozer just waltzed into the living room like a game show host.
“Mrs. Templeton, I’m here to tell you that your locks are no good. You’re not even safe in your own house. Why, anybody can just walk on in and start ransacking. But think of this as your lucky day, I’m offering a sale on my one of a kind Goozer Deadbolt!”
What we didn’t know was that Mrs. Templeton didn’t need a Goozer deadbolt, because from under her back cushion she whipped out a slab of gun metal faster than you could say Desert Eagle. I didn’t wait around, I grabbed the old man by his knobby shoulders and yanked him out of there, knocking over several crucifixes and Jesus figures on our mad scramble out of the house. We peeled up the street, the back doors to the ambulance swinging open and littering all sorts of springs and bolts and doorknobs on the street. It wasn’t until we were safely away and pulled off to the side of the road that I looked over at the old man. He was grinning like the devil
“What in the hell was that?”
He shrugged, eyeing the rearview mirror. “Sales tactic.”
“Not good. Not a very good one, Mr. Goozer.”
But somehow he talked me into it. From there we continued our sales tactics. For eleven dollars an hour, (plus commission), I was punched in the face, hit with a seven iron, bitten in the ass by a Poodle (standard size), and kicked in the nuts by a woman named Della. For some reason it was always me getting pummeled. But I’d never had so much fun, and we even managed a sale.
“You do know that it’s illegal right, what we’re doing?” I asked one day, not that I cared. I was nineteen and learning a trade. Besides, Mr. Goozer didn’t drug test and I’d just burned a fat one on the way over. He shrugged, working under a lamp at one of his dead bolts.
We laid low for a few days. Then the next week we set off at eleven o’clock. He had his cloudy gray eyes set on a cabin type house just off of Old Willows Road. Up the road he put the van in park, slipping the black stocking cap over his thin silvery strands that hardly covered his head..
“Okay, follow me,” he said with a cough. I couldn’t help but notice the old man seemed a little off his game that night. But who was I to question what he was doing. We tipped towards the door, through the thinning forest to the front door of the cabin where he went right to work.
The door swung open easy enough, only found myself staring into the alarming gaze of a double barrel shotgun. Some big burly mofo at the other end.
“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?”
He jammed the butt of the gun into his shoulder. I put my hands up, waiting for Mr. Goozer to take the lead on this one but he just stood there, captivated by the guy with the gun. I dropped the dead bolt like an anvil, pleading for my life. “Please, we’re only trying to make a sale.”
“We?” he lowered the gun. “I put a bullet in the last guy who said that.”