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Truth in Advertising

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This isn’t a story about two sisters after the same man.  It’s a story about the same man after two sisters.

Rose and I are “Irish twins”, eleven months apart.  She’s brunette and I’m blonde and we’re both...well, let’s just say we have hourglass figures.  Which is why Mr. Knutsen won’t leave us alone.  He wants us to make TV commercials for him, wearing tight sweaters and short skirts and acting amazed at the great buys available at “Krolly Knutsen’s Kar Korral”.  But we refuse.  We Jeffries are good, honest girls, and we will not shill for Kreepy Knutsen.  No way.

Till the day we sit down, add up our bills, and realize we’ve got maybe a month before we crash and burn.

Rose looks at me and sighs.  “Maybe I can get evening shifts at 7-Eleven after I get off from Macy’s.”

“Then who’s going to watch Mom at night while I waitress?”

The thing is, there just aren’t that many jobs available near the freeway exit we call home.  One of us could look for work in the big city, but that would leave the other one responsible for Mom 24/7 and soon two Jeffries women would need round-the-clock care.

So the next day I unlock my mental chastity belt and go see Mr. Knutsen.  When he sees me, he smiles a “gotcha” smile.  “Well, look who’s here!  Come in, honey, come in!”

Shuddering slightly, I follow him into his tiny, cluttered office.  There’s an extremely cute guy at the computer.

“My nephew, Buck,” says Mr. K.

“‘Buck?”

“Short for ‘Buckminster’,” says the guy.   “Whatcha gonna do?”  He grins.  He’s wearing horn-rimmed glasses.  I like him already.

“Buck’s here to learn about the business,” says Mr. K.  “Use his fancy MBA in a....what’d’ya call it?”

“An internship.”

“Right!  He’s supposed to do projects for me....wait! wait!”  Mr. K. holds up his hand like a traffic cop.  “I just had a helluva idea!  Buck!  You can work on our TV ads with Roxie here and her sister!”

“Roxanne,” I say through gritted teeth.  But Mr. K. is off and running.

“I bet you can improve our sales by 20%!  Maybe more!”

“I’m not sure advertising is...”

“No, no, this is great!  Tell you what...you get me 20% more and there’s a bonus in it for all of you!”

Buck looks at me; I look at Buck.  I wouldn’t mind a bonus.  I wouldn’t mind him.  “I’m willing if you are,” I say.  And...we’re off and running.

For the next two weeks, Rose and I work with Buck every chance we get.  He’s gone online and researched making TV commercials.  He’s got us “conceptualizing” and “storyboarding”, and he actually listens to our ideas.  He’s told Mr. K. to stay away.  I like him better all the time, and I’m grateful Rose already has the hots for an assistant manager at Macy’s.

Finally, we shoot two 30-second commercials.  Rose and I play normal, thinking women inquiring about Mr. K’s cars.  We look impressed by what we learn and nod at each other as if to say, “See?  Krolly Knutsen really isn’t out to cheat the bejesus out of us!”  But other than that we don’t tell any lies, and we look good.

Mr. K. blows a gasket when he sees them.  “Jeez, Buck!  No way I’m going to pay to run these on TV!  There’s no...showmanship!  No pizzazz!”

“But...they’re honest and informative.”

“If I want information I’ll watch the news!  If I want honest...”

I can’t stand it.  I leap to my feet.  “Mr. Knutsen!  How much does it cost to run these for a week?  Because Buck and Rose and I will pay for it!”

Mr. K. stares at us.  We stare back, wondering what I’ve done.

“Okay,” he says at last.  “I’ll pay for one week. That’s all, understand?  If sales don’t go up, then...” He makes a slicing motion across his neck.

You’ve probably already guessed the ending of this story, right?  Sales go up, we get our bonuses, and Buck and I live happily ever after.  Well, not exactly.

Sales don’t go up.  Turns out people buying Mr. K’s cars don’t want information, they just want cheap.  Figures.  No bonuses, but at least Mr. K. pays us off before he tells us goodbye.   And we start getting modeling jobs from being seen on TV, which help pay for Mom’s day care.

And Buck?  He’s doing research comparing Mr. K’s sales methods to other used-car dealerships.  He says he intends to prove that in the long run, honesty works.

We’re also doing a little joint research project on how the two of us work.  I won’t lie; it’s going well.

 

End

 

I'm a retired psychiatric nurse/hospital administrator/grant writer who now spends her time making slow-cooker marinaras, pining for yellow tulips, and writing fiction.

 

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