It was a dark and stormy night

October 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I recently posted my ad for a used SL2 on Craigslist. It was flagged and deleted within seconds. I reviewed the standards and found that my ad violated no less than 34 different posting standards. So I edited it down to five words–“SL2 frame/fork, $500, Torrance.” And I included a couple of pictures.

My first inquiry was from a gentleperson named “Din Doo.” He had a variety of detailed and knowledgeable questions. I sent him a link to my longer ad listing here, and, oddly enough, never heard from him again.

The second email inquiry wanted to know “Would you take $450?”

I got the pleasure of sending out the clearest, best-written, literate email I’ve ever composed: “No.”

He came back with “Is it negotiable?”

This was too good; a creative writer’s dream: “No.” Then I followed it up with a link to the longer ad listing.

Gearhead, amazingly, wrote back. “Read it. Got it. When can I see it?”

The worst that could happen is I’d get raped, beaten, and killed

We set up a time, 7:45 p.m., and picked a place halfway between my house and his jail cell–the Best Buy parking lot in Long Beach.

He called yesterday afternoon to confirm. “I’ll be driving a black Prius,” I told him.

There was a pause. “I’ll be on my motorcycle.”

I started to get nervous, and not just because it was foggy and overcast. “Uh, okay.”

“And my buddy will be there, too. He drives a big black truck. In case I decide to buy it. He’ll put it in the truck.”

Gearhead sounded very cool and business-like. No fun bike talk, no chatting to see who we knew in common. You show me the goods, I show you the cash, and if neither one of us pulls a gun on the other, a deal might happen…that kind of thing. Then I got to thinking, “How’s he going to inspect the frame at night in the corner of a parking lot?”

Making a splash with the Dontfuckwithmemobile

I rolled the badass Prius into the Best Buy lot at the appointed time, rocking the fuck out of a Bach Brandenburg Concerto just to mark my fucking turf and sure enough, over in the corner was a steel-gray motorcycle parked next to a massive black truck. The guy leaning on the motor was wearing a leather jacket, stood about 6’2″, and easily weighed 220. And it was all muscle. Thankfully, I was wearing a tight t-shirt, so he could see that if there was going to be a gun show he’d better think twice.

I parked and Gearhead’s buddy got out of the truck. He was bigger than Gearhead by about a hundred pounds and was easily 6’6″. I got out of the badassmobile, trembling with fear as I saw my life flash before my eyes. I’d already practiced my lines: “Here, take it, please don’t kill me,” and “I’ll defend you at your next murder trial for free.”

Gearhead picked up the frame. “I’ve always wanted to see a frame with 25,000 miles on it.”

“It’s actually got a few more than that,” I said, hoping that an excessively truthful disclosure would prevent them from beating out all my teeth once they took the frame. Friend just stood, hugely, watching. “Here are the things I’d want to know about it before I bought it,” I added, going over the nicks and dings that were dimly illuminated by the rear cargo light.

Gearhead nodded, then reached into his pocket. My eye caught the outline of a hard, elongated object. “Here comes the pistol whipping,” I thought.

Instead he removed a small flashlight that was brighter than three of Konsmo’s cycle headlamps. He began going over every centimeter of the frame. “We work together,” offered Friend.

Delighted at something to distract me from planning my funeral arrangements, I said, “Oh really? Where’s that?”

What do you call those small appendages hanging from your sleeves?

“Bill’s Speed Palace of Death Emporium. Motorcycles.” I tried not to look at Friend’s massive forearms.

Gearhead never said a word, but he knew what he was looking for. I’ve never seen a frame so closely inspected. He went over the dropouts multiple times from every angle. Then he looked up. “Not bad for an ’09. What price did we agree on?”

Several thoughts collided as I played them out:
A) “Whatever you would like to pay me, good sir.” Downside: the craven display of weakness would make them beat me even more viciously, kind of like the way that Comanche squaws used to torture prisoners even more hideously the more they begged for mercy.
B) “I think we agreed on $450.” This had a nice ring to it, but it showed my terror, and if they were going to take the frame by force they’d take it whether I asked for $500 or $450. Plus, if they actually paid me $450 I’d have to come up with an additional $50 or face endless harassment at home for sacrificing fifty whole dollars simply to avoid a beating in a deserted parking lot.
C) “$750.” This had the advantage of making them so angry that they would kill me instantly, and a painless death has always kind of been a goal of mine.
D) “$500, bro.” This was ballsiest of all. First, it had the advantage of being true. Second, it showed them I wasn’t afraid, even though my shirt was wringing wet, my upper lip was draining sweat like a leaf-choked rain gutter in a downpour, and my voice was trembling so badly they thought English was my third language. Finally, in the event they agreed, I could tell the wife that they’d only been willing to pay me $450, take her abuse, and pocket the $50 for a couple pairs of new tall, white socks.

The correct answer turned out to be “D.” Gearhead nodded, peeled off the bills, shook my hand, passed the frame over to Friend, and we parted. They were both friendly and professional from start to finish. I noted that Gearhead’s grip was so powerful that, had it been knotted into a fist there would have been no dental records left for the coroner to reconstruct. I haven’t totally relaxed, of course. They still have my email and phone number.

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