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Button, Plant, Trick, Fly
By D L Johnson
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Rated "G" by the Author.
The writing group that I co-facilitate, recently had a challenge that we write a short story based on four words. Button, Plant, Trick, and Fly-this is my humble offering-dlj
Button, Plant, Trick, Fly
Button Plant was not his birth name, but time and circumstance would change that bothersome detail.
Button was originally named Butri-simious Plan-ta-dopolous, born in Athens, Greece during World War II. His father a Greek film director, his mother a Turkish writer... their home in constant chaos. After the war, 1948, to be exact, the family moved to Hollywood, California, where they thought their collective and creative dreams would come true . Mr. P dreamed he would be an instant success as the next great film director, but even though the war had ended, his socialist views were not easily accepted, and his mothers Turkish Poetry was soon lost on the shores of the American dream.
It would be a full year before Mr. P would be hired as an assistant art director at Warner Brothers, and for the time being, his mother would have to be content with waiting tables at a Mediterranean restaurant just off Hollywood Blvd. Mrs. P would write her stories and her poetry between customers, or late at night in their quiet bungalow not far from the beach.
Young Button would not find life easy at school, he faced constant difficulties with people pronouncing his name; his first name, Butri-simious of Turkish lineage, and the last name. Plan-ta-dopolous was of Greek background. Learning English was not easy, it took great effort, but like his parents who persisted in their craft, Button was determined to be the best he could be in school, and his grades reflected that attitude. While Button eventually excelled in school, his fathers talents were soon discovered and before long he was moving up the ladder at the movie studio. There he rose from the gofer role of an assistant art director to being asked to be the art director of a dark movie being produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. You might say he was on his way to success.
Mrs. P would much rather have kept her Turkish name, but she decided that in order for her writing to be recognized, she needed to stand out from the crowd, so she changed her writing name simply to be known as Anatonia, After submitting volumes of work all over America, one day Anatonia received word that several short stories she had submitted to a New York Publishing House, were accepted to a larger anthology series coming out in the fall. soon her name and her heritage would be in print, Her stories were about a young Turkish girl from Istanbul, that fell in love with a Greek from Athens... a young Greek dreamer and philosopher filled with strong socialist views.
The money she was paid would be welcome as times were still difficult as aspiring new Americans.
After graduating high school in 1962, Button had to decide what to do with his life, sadly though, he could not make up his mind.
The one thing Button knew was that he did not want to work in the movie industry, and he did not want to be a writer, yet the thing he constantly dreamed of was being obscenely rich. The trick was, how he could accomplish that dream. Button was not afraid of work, but he wanted to take his time at deciding what profession he would dedicate his life to. After two years at USC, Button was convinced he did not belong in college, but at this same time there was this mounting problem circling his educational dreams called Viet Nam. He learned quickly that college drop outs were instant fodder for future soldier-hood. He decided that he would stay in school for the time being, but he also kept dreaming that instant money would soon be waiting at his doorstep... yet there were other problems that would come knocking.
One spring day, while on the fly to catch the bus that would take him home, he darted out in front of a trash truck coming down the street. By the time Button saw the truck, it was too late, his left leg caught under the front wheel of the bus. Sadly, his left foot would be amputated, and going to Viet Nam; was no longer a concern, but learning to live without a left foot was something Button had never concerned himself with.. That said, his dreams of wealth would never die... on that point Button was certain.
When Button turned 21 he went to the Los Angeles County Courthouse and filed the papers to legally change his name from Butrisimious Plantadopolous to Button Plant. He felt this came as close as possible to putting an American slant on his Mediterranean heritage. His parents were not overly concerned about what he called himself; after all, his mother was known as Anatonia, and his father had kept the tag of simply being known as Mr. P.
On his way out of the courthouse, Button saw six guys standing on the curb, they were smoking cigarettes, and waiting, but what were they waiting for? Button may have lost his left foot, but he did not lose his determination. He was still on crutches, so moving slowly, he crossed the street, this time looking both ways. He had to know why these guys were standing at the curb, each in black suits, white shirts and dark ties... you would have thought they were penguins, ready to march off to a feeding frenzy. .
Button approached the first guy he came to and said "So... why you guys standing here... this isn't a bus stop?" The guy put out his cigarette and said "We work for Felix Chevrolet, and we're curb salesmen."
By now Button was really curious, so he asked "What the hell is a curb salesman?" The guy looked at Button with an eye of sensing something, he wasn't sure what it was... just couldn't put his finger on it, so he said, "We wait for a car to pull up to the curb, we open the car doors for Mr. & Mrs. whomever they are, and ask them if they are looking for a new car. If they say yes, this guy next to me takes the car keys, and I explain, Mike is going to park your car over there, where the space is reserved for our special guests, and I'll take you inside where we can help you find the car of your dreams. How does that sound?"
Button was hooked... he asked, "Can you make any money doing this?" "Last month," the guy said, "I made thirty-five hundred dollars, and I've only been doing this for three months."
Button knew he wanted to know more, thinking 'I not only want a slice of this pie, I want the whole damn thing.'
The following Monday, Button Plant stood, crutches under his arms, at the curb on Washington Blvd. in a black suit, white shirt and dark tie, in the pouring rain. It was the worst rain Southern California had seen in forty years. Soon, suit number one had a customer, suit number two became the head of the line, and so on and so on. It did not take long for the suits in front of Button to fold under the pressure of the rain... but Button stood his ground, he was convinced that the trick was to wait patiently, because he knew the last man standing would win. As the other suits scattered like flies, they watched from the warmth and comfort of the showroom and saw him open car doors, park cars, and lead unsuspecting victims into the showroom, like lambs to the slaughter, where they could take their time admiring the sleek chrome, the beautiful paint job and most of all breathe in that new car smell. Button Plant was now a car salesman, but his dreams went beyond simply selling cars, he wanted to be a car dealer, just like the Armenian, that owned Felix Chevrolet.
That fateful first day, Button sold four cars, on crutches, in the rain, and in his heart of hearts he had found his gold mine.
Within a month, Button had been promoted to "closer" When the salesman found out what the customer was looking for; size of car, color, options, trade in value, car payments, and all the other things that would seal the deal, Button was called in to help facilitate the lingering issues; like he would ask Mrs... "You like the color of the car," she would say yes. then he would ask, "If I can get your monthly payments to fit your budget, would you give Mr. the OK to buy the car?" Usually, she would say, "Before I do that, I need to know what the payment is... I know we can't afford an awful lot." Button would listen and nod his head in compliance, as if he understood her every word, and was totally committed to helping them find a way to buy a new car.
Under his desk there was a small switch that he would throw anytime he needed to leave his office... Button would then walk down three doors and sit and listen to Mr. & Mrs as they discussed what was happening. Their conversation would go something like this. "Look Edna, I've already spent over $250.00 this month, fixing that old car, We just can't afford putting another dollar in it, it does not make sense." Within minutes, Button would come back, flip off the switch, and go into his close. He would always start by saying "While I was out, I had the Used Car Manager take another look at your car, and nice as it is, there are a few things we noticed that need attention. For example did you notice that oil leak? Or, we may need to repaint the car due to the scratches on both front fenders. That said, here is what I was able to do for you. I was able to get the used car manager to put another $100.00 in your trade, only if you do it today. The General Sales Manager has been working with me, so we have your interest in mind when I say he was able to get the car payment close to what you want... but it has to be today." Then Button would shut up and wait, because he learned that the first one to speak was the loser. You could hear the flies buzzing in the overhead lights... You could tell the wheels were turning, and before long Mrs. would speak first, saying... "Show me how much money you are giving me for my car, then the shit would hit the fan... "What do you mean you're only giving us $500.00 for our trade, that car is worth twice that amount." Button would sit and listen, nodding his head in agreement... then from nowhere in particular, he would ask "So... you want $1,000.00 for your old car?" "Yes," Mrs. would say... Then Button would stand and say in his deepest Greek Turkish sincerity... "Mr. & Mrs. it has been a pleasure speaking with you but I"m afraid we can't sell you that car, perhaps we should look at something more economical..." "But we want that car," they would cry, Again, Button would speak from the depth of his heart by saying, "Mr. & Mrs. the only way I can do that is by telling you if you want $1,000.00 for your old car, you will need to go home, then bring in the other half of the car... 'cause the way it stands right now, it's only half there." Then deadly quiet fell in the small cramped office. Mrs. looked at Mr. Mr. looked at Button, then in a burst of mighty thunder, Mrs. would start laughing her head off "If that isn't the damnedest, funniest thing I ever heard in my life... Alvin, by God, lets buy this car.
Two years have passed, Button is still missing his left foot, He has learned the tricks of his trade, and if you ever fly by on the Harbor Freeway, you can see the big blue sign that says Button Plant Chevrolet... number one Chevy dealer in California.
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|Reviewed by Patrick Granfors
|What a great story. You make Cal Worthington sound like a saint. Patrick|
|Reviewed by Tom Hyland
|DAN - WELL DONE, LAD!
My version would have been just a tad shorter, which is amazing,
as I am normally so verbose.
My old pair of Dungarees had a FLY, which had no zipper - rather closed by BUTTON.
Although difficult to close sometimes, the TRICK was to firmly PLANT your right thumb under the edge of each BUTTON - VOILA!
Peace - Tom.
|Reviewed by Jon Willey
|D.L., from four little words you were able to build a marvelous short story filled with may factual tricks employed by the retail automobile industry -- I enjoyed your work my -- may peace nd love be always with you -- Jon Michael|
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Excelleent story; well done!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D
D L Johnson