Excerpt, Cold Sale, J. Jupes

Fredericks closed the passenger door and didn’t do it quietly. Delivery trucks careening down the block every morning sideswiped parked cars. Fredericks had his door fixed twice. The creaking never went away. He stood a moment longer, remembering the old fashioned well in the back yard of the Iowa place, the one with a crank he had to turn with both hands to hoist up the heavy wooden bucket in order to clean himself. He’d been distracted but aware the crank had made a familiar sound, now realizing what he heard was the creaking of his own Pontiac’s passenger side door. These lapses had started worrying Fredericks, prompting him to double check, sometimes triple check lest he’d leave something behind. He had been careful how he went about doing things over the years. He considered himself not only the best there was, but the best there ever was. Nothing had tipped him off they were any closer to piecing it together than they had been thirty years ago when he started out.

He stood, leaning, one hand on the Pontiac’s door, right hip hurting him after spending the entire day previous driving. He flexed his right knee, once, twice then gently placed the foot on the soil. He remembered how surprised he had been to spot the well in Iowa, assuming wells like that only existed in story books, a stone upon stone cylindrical hollow converging downward to pinpoint blackness. The visit hadn’t been a good one, aside from the well. Circumstances required him to improvise, even exert himself and he ended up having a lot more cleaning up to do than usual, to the point he started worrying halfway through it all he had gotten in over his head. Having to defend himself did happen every now but was unusual. Fredericks’ secret had always been the element of surprise: He looked like you’d imagine some tired old salesman would look, vague twinkle in both eyes telling whoever answered the door here was a fella that liked people.

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