"I'm telling you, Rob will double your sales," Jeremiah Snert said with the astounding conviction shared by great politicians, CEOs, and sales people the world over. His eyes were keen and honest and his gestures sharp and controlled, emphasizing his point without being distracting. The gray suit and subtle, elegant tie he wore were calculated to please.
Jason Black, owner of Black's Used Cars and high priest of sales, was immediately on his guard. He leaned back in his leather chair and surveyed the giant metal man Snert had wheeled into his office on a hand truck. The photo of Black's sailboat on the wall, The Lemon Squeezer, was reflected in the robot's shiny chest plate.
"I have plenty of sales people, why do I need another?" Black allowed his skepticism to show, even as his brain began considering the marketing possibilities and the number of customers a robot salesman would draw to his lot.
"Human employees come with all kinds of overhead. Health insurance, vacation, donuts for the break room. Rob here works nonstop around the clock and never complains. How can you put a price on that?" Snert said.
"Try me," Black replied, pretending to make a note on the yellow legal pad on his desk. It was actually just a scribble, but it would make Snert work harder.
"Fifteen grand and he's all yours."
Black laughed out loud. "Nice to see you have a sense of humor. This thing looks like one big maintenance nightmare. How often does it need oil?"
"Rob will generate so many sales you won't even notice the tiny upkeep cost. But why listen to me? These things sell themselves," Snert flipped a switch on the robot's back.
There was a whine from the robot's torso and the machine's red LED eyes lit up.
Black shifted uneasily. "I really don't have time for a sales pitch."
Buy me. said the robot.
Black frowned. "No, I don't think so."
Buy me. the robot insisted.
Black looked at Snert, a questioning eyebrow raised. "That's it? That's the pitch? I've heard better stuff from an auto-dialer."
Buy me. the robot repeated. Then it smashed its arm down on Black's desk, snapping the pine table top in half.
"What the..." Black said, shoving his leather chair back just in time to avoid having his legs crushed.
The robot stepped over the ruined desk, yanked Black out of his chair by his shirt collar, and slammed the car salesman against the wall so hard the plasterboard cracked.
The glowing eyes burned into Black's soul.
"Fine, fine, I'll take it! My checkbook is in the top drawer!"
"Sorry, cash only," Snert said. "Where's the safe?"
"Behind the sailboat," Black replied.
Snert lifted the painting off the wall to expose the safe.
"If you would do the honors," he said to the robot.
The robot reached over and tore the door off its hinges. Snert scooped the stacks of bills into a large duffel bag.
"Hey, there's 20 g's in there!" Black said.
"How fortunate, that's the exact price of the robot," Snert replied.
"You said fifteen!"
"Let's call the extra five a delivery fee," Snert replied. "He's all yours," Snert slapped Black on the shoulder and hurried out the door.
"Put me down!" Black yelled at the robot. To his surprise, the robot did.
"Pick up the safe door." The robot bent over and retrieved the bent, crumpled, metal door.
"Not bad," Black stroked his chin. "Go get my money back," he ordered.
The robot turned its head toward the door, and it kept spinning, around and around.
Does not compute. Does not compute. Wailed the machine. Black smoke curled up from the robot's neck, there was a flash, and its head popped off.
With the final flicker of its red eyes, the robot said No refunds. All sales fina....
Black bent over and picked up the warm, smoking head.
"Damn lemon," he groaned, and dropped it in the wastebasket.
THE END copyright 2013 John Lance