Story Submitted by Mattie:
Fred messaged me online. He was capable of stringing a grammatically correct sentence together, so I checked out his profile. He listed himself as "self-employed." When I asked him what his business was, he said, "Beauty products," and sent me a link to a site that looked like it was slapped together for a grade-schooler's computer class project. There were multiple, haphazardly placed photos of cosmetics, but the brand names were always blurred out. Curious.
He said, "I make enough from that to support me," and so I chalked it up more to his ability as a salesman than as his prowess as a web designer. We spoke for a little over a week, he didn't try to sell me anything (a good thing) and he asked me out on a date to a small cafe for dinner and coffee.
When I arrived, I found him already inside, sitting at the table, next to a handtruck stacked with plastic cases, each strapped into place by a bungee cord. He stood up to greet me, shook my hand, and then we sat down.
"I work better with a captive audience," were some of his first words. Not a good sign. He opened one case and it was full of lipsticks. The brand name on each had been removed. He began his sales pitch:
"The problem with buying brand name is that you're paying more for the brand than the effect you want the brand to have. Ultimately, that's the only difference. These are top quality products with the same exact ingredients as the big brands, but–"
I interrupted, "I'm not here to be sold to. I just wanted to do dinner."
He gestured to his cart. "But I brought the cart. We have a long night ahead, I have products, and you're a beautiful woman."
I said, "Thanks, but I don't like to use a lot of makeup."
"I don't blame you. Who does, when it's so expensive? My policy is to–"
"Fred. Stop selling me makeup. I'm not going to buy anything."
He leaned across the table to me and said, "I guarantee that you'll buy something before we part tonight."
I said, "Don't count on it."
He closed the lipstick case, unhooked a bungee from his cart, and replaced it on the top of the case stack. He began, "Let me show you this new set real quick–"
It happened so fast. One of the bungees he fiddled with swung around from the back of the cart and its plastic hook whacked him in the upper face.
"Aaaaaaaaaarrrrgghhh!" he screamed, held his face, stood up, and ran for the bathroom.
I was in shock for a moment or two, then followed him there, almost bumping into the waitress who was likely coming to take our drink orders.
I knocked on the bathroom door and asked if he was okay. No response. I asked again.
"Out in a minute!" he said in a high pitch. I returned to the table.
When he didn't come back after fifteen minutes, I knocked on the bathroom door again. He said, "I'll be right out."
When he finally did return, he looked fine, although he held some paper towel to the area right next to his left eye. "It'll probably need stitches," he said, "And me with no insurance. So, onto the next case..."
"Let me see," I said, "I've done some nursing work."
He said, "Oh, I wouldn't want you to–"
I reached and tore the paper towel away. As I suspected, nothing was there. It was all just a pity act, like the entire date itself. I said, "Stitches, eh?"
He said, "Maybe you just healed it! You said you were a nurse. Here, let me give you some samples at a discount, to thank you."
"I've had enough," I said, and left, then and there.
Story Submitted by Mattie: