For the NYC Midnight 2013 Flash Fiction Contest, all writers were placed into heats of 25 writers, and given a set of prompts and 48 hours to create a story from those prompts of no more than 1,000 words. Each writer participates in the first two rounds, after which the writers with the top five combined scores advance to Round 3. I didn’t advance, but here is one of my two entries. The prompts were Political Satire / A Used Car Dealership / A Taco. See a note following the story in case you are confused. 🙂 Enjoy!
“God is My Co-Pilot”
When a disgraced politician tries to manipulate his public with a special event, he and his co-conspirator find that people aren’t necessarily who they seem.
State Senator David Miller was in trouble. Not realizing the proximity of a reporter’s open mic after a town hall meeting, he had referred to colleague Maria Alvarez as a “juicy piece of dark meat.” With Hispanic voters representing nearly one-third of his district, David needed to implement serious damage control, and fast.
Amazingly, hitting the wrong numbers on his remote late one night gave David the answer he needed.
“Grandes ofertas!” screamed the commercial on Telemundo. “Los precios más bajos en el pueblo!” Even a Gringo like David knew this was a used car salesman, pitching to the local Hispanic population. He wrote down the number for Manny’s Used Cars, and prayed that he’d find someone who spoke English when he called mañana.
Manny was thrilled with the promotion – a holiday meet-and-greet in his showroom with the area’s state senator. There would be invitations to the press, special advertising, and the idiot senator was picking up the tab! It felt more like Christmas than Cinco de Mayo.
On May 5, flags and banners screamed as loud as the late-night commercials outside of Manny’s. News vans filled the parking lot, making the rag tag assortment of used cars look even less appealing.
Inside, David Miller approached a makeshift podium to address the assembly.
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today on what I hope will be the first of many opportunities I will have to join with local businesses to provide a casual setting to meet the local population in my district first hand.”
Pausing to take a drink of water, David glanced around the room to notice that the “locals” consisted of a pair of teenagers helping themselves to the free taco bar set up in the corner, and one elderly gentleman in the back of the room.
“But now is not the time for speeches,” he continued. “Now is time to talk to the people one-on-one. Thank you again for coming.”
Avoiding the press, David walked over to the elderly gentleman.”
“Welcome, friend,” he said, extending his hand. “I’m David Miller. And you are…?”
“Jorge,” the gentleman replied. “Are you the salesman?”
“A salesman? Oh no. I’m YOUR state senator, David Miller. I’m here to meet my constituents and talk to you about whatev-“
“Pardon me for interrupting,” Jorge said. “But actually I am not from around here. I am just interested in speaking with the salesman. Can you direct me to him, please?”
David’s politician demeanor instantly disappeared.
“Sure – over there,” he said, pointing at Manny. He turned his attention to the press, who were already starting to pack it in.
Jorge started toward Manny, and was met halfway with an enthusiastic greeting.
“Welcome to Manny’s Used Cars!” he said. “What can I do for you today?”
“I’ve been looking at the cars on your lot and am interested in one of them,” Jorge replied.
“I bet it’s the 2009 green Lincoln,” Manny said. “Low miles and perfect for you and the wife.”
“I don’t have a wife,” Jorge replied. “And actually I don’t need anything that large. I was thinking more of the… “
“Don’t tell me – I bet you have your eye on the 2011 Honda Accord,” Manny said. “A bachelor needs something to catch the eyes of the ladies, am I right?”
“No,” Jorge said with a slight smile. “That’s not necessary either. I was thinking more of the small white car at the back of the lot.”
“We have a lot more late-model cars that get better mileage; let me see if we can put you in one of our certified pre-owned vehicles.”
“No, really, I’ve looked at the white car and that’s the one I want,” Jorge insisted. “Mileage isn’t really an issue – it will just be for short local jaunts.”
“Just to church on Sunday, right?” Manny said with a laugh.
“Something like that,” said Jorge. “Can we please do the paperwork now?”
Twenty minutes later Jorge was walking out with keys, and David and Manny were left in the middle of an empty showroom.
“Jesus Christ, that was sure a bust,” David said disgustedly. “All I have to show from this was heartburn from the tacos and a bunch of pissed off reporters who wasted their afternoon. But hey, at least you got a sale out of it.”
“Yeah, but did you make any money on it?” David asks.
“Did I make money? Is the Pope Catholic?”
As both men laugh, a processional can be seen driving down the street, the Renault flanked by black security vehicles.
And just in case you didn’t get the inside joke, here’s the explanation.