I Almost Felt Guilty

Retire in La Palma, Canary IslandsSeveral years ago I decided to celebrate my retirement with a new car. My wife and I had been sharing one, and I’d hesitated to purchase another for my exclusive use because we lived downtown and parking was difficult. Our house was nearly a hundred years old with a narrow garage carved out of the basement. Our current car left little room for tandem parking—until the Mini Cooper arrived on the scene.

I fell in love with the look of this toy-like car, and my wife and I drove to the dealership for a chat with the gregarious salesman, a young fellow with a devilish sense of humor named Jerrod. I wasn’t surprised when Jerrod informed me that selling cars wasn’t his true aspiration; he loved books by Stephen King and Dean Koontz and aspired to be a writer of horror fiction.

We discussed writing for a while, and then got down to business; he showed me a chili red beauty with a black and white checkered roof. There was normally a two month wait for Mini Coopers at the time but this particular car was available because someone had custom ordered it only to have their financing fall through. We took the car for a test drive. I loved how it handled on the road and how spacious it was inside for a small car. But I did have a concern.

“Jerrod, I like this car enough to buy it, but I don’t know if it will fit in our narrow garage behind my wife’s car. Trying to find street parking downtown would be a nightmare, and other cars would ding it while jockeying around in tight parking spaces. I need to borrow this car for a test.”

“A test?” he said.

“Yeah, I need to park it in my garage and see if the door closes. At the time, this was the smallest car on the market and by my calculations the door would close with an inch and a half to spare, but I needed to be certain.”

“I can’t let you take the car unless I go with you,” Jerrod said.

“Why, I’ll leave my wife here as collateral.”

My wife overheard our conversation and gave me the stink eye, but didn’t object.

Jerrod shook his head. “I still have to accompany you.”

I’m an inveterate jokester and decided to match my devilishness with Jerrod’s. Playing off of his interest in horror fiction I said, “If I were you, I’d be a lot less worried I’d steal your car and a lot more concerned I’d slice you into little pieces when I got you home behind my closed garage door.”

He frowned. “You’re joking, right?”

I almost felt guilty pulling his leg. “Of course I’m joking.” My wife turned up the dial on that stink eye.

He and I climbed into the Mini Cooper and drove the short distance to our house. Just as I’d calculated, the door closed with an inch and a half to spare. With the door down, an uncomfortable looking Jerrod glanced around for an escape route while saying, “So, we have a deal, right? You’ll buy the car?”

“Sure I will.” I beamed a megawatt grin at him. “Right after I slice you into little pieces.”

The look on his pale face was priceless, but I realized, perhaps too late, that my joke bordered on cruelty.

“I’m just fooling with you.” I confessed, but I’ve given you an interesting scenario for a horror plot—serial car buyer is also a serial killer.”

“Thhhanks?” he sputtered, eying a basement window as if wondering how fast he could break the glass and squeeze through it. He sighed with relief when I pushed open the garage door.

Later, my wife dialed her stink eye to maximum when I told her how I’d teased poor Jerrod. Even though he’d received a nice commission for selling me the car, my wife insisted I atone for my questionable humor by referring Jerrod to all our friends. Like I said, I almost felt guilty.

I’m still waiting for Jerrod’s first novel to be published, probably a story about a fat bastard with a big mouth who ends up chopped to pieces while taking a test drive in a Mini Cooper.


  1. Ha! I love the author’s sense of humor. I’m glad the salesman made a nice commission. He deserved it after his “near death” experience.

  2. OY!!! yup, thriller fodder galore…

  3. I wonder how long he sold cars after that!!

  4. Ha, ha! I think I would have given you a double stink-eye 🙂

  5. Michael Manning

    December 5, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    What a fine story with humor and a bit of intrigue!

  6. This is a hilarious story! what a hoot….I could totally visualize the salesman eyeing the garage window to make his escape! And the wife’s stink eye was doubly funny!

  7. Such a devil you are. That is a really cute car and I’m glad it fit but you really should be glad Jerrod wasn’t packing a taser. That would have hurt a lot worse than the stink eye. Can’t wait for the book.

  8. Cute story and a really cute car. By the way, you did indeed give the aspiring writer a great plot line.

  9. poor Jerrod. another good one Stephen. i love the mini btw

  10. I guess Jerrod really needed that commission. And possibly a change of underwear.

  11. And the red car goes well with your plot … won’t show the blood!

  12. What a good story. I’m surprised Jerrod didn’t have a heart attack.


  13. You’re awful — and so funny! Congrats on the new car and surviving the maximum stink-eye from your wife. I wonder if a future horror novel will mention you in the acknowledgements…

  14. A cracking tale, and as you said a great little car. I had a mini years ago and loved it!

  15. This was great! There’s only one problem with this joke. Someone else already thought of it, so I can’t claim it was mine.
    And it WOULD be a great idea for a book or short story. The serial killer would only be caught when he test drove a Ford. After the car inevitably breaks down, he’d be scooped up by the cops.

  16. Oh, Jerrod should definitely mention your name in the acknowledgments section of his novel!

  17. You remind me of my dad’s cousin, who once snookered a Cadillac salesman. Jerrod at least has a good story to tell for the experience.

  18. Daniel LaFrance

    December 8, 2014 at 4:41 am

    Excellent story! You capture this reader’s imagination from the start. A curiously titled story is a great hook…. and simply became a great read.

  19. Mike@ A Bit About Britain

    December 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Love the tale – and the car. Anyone with a name like Jerrod deserves to be wound up. It’s a good name for an author, though…

  20. You almost felt guilty and he probably almost pooped his pants. Fine story.. you made me laugh.

  21. Barbara Serating

    March 1, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    I loved your story and your definition of your wife’s” stink eye.” I wonder how many times I used that look on my loving hubby of almost 50years? You are a great blogger and have a great sense of humor. Keep them coming.

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