The night everything flipped, Flint Spencer went out looking for a car part; nothing fancy really, just a Napa aftermarket alternator. Chuck Feddor Ford in Wayland, New York had one, but they wanted too much for it. The mean old counter man, Mr. Schetz, turned down his crumpled coupon, too. Schetz never liked Flint; he frowned from the start, then grew colder and harder during their little exchange. He didn't try hiding his funky old man attitude at all.
"It ain't my fault it expired, Spencer...can't honor it," he said. "Got burned a while back on some fake coupons and damn near lost this job."
"Come on, Schetz..." Flint was the only customer, but that didn't stop the counterman from putting his worst face forward.
"Come on Schetz, nothin'. It's expired. I bet my bottom dollar you knew that already when you dropped in here all cool as rain, Spencer." He had a caustic way of pronouncing Flint's last name, like he was spitting a snotwad into a snake pit.
"Okay it's expired, but so what? You can't work with me?
"Nope... Sorry, Spencer."
"Who's in charge anyway? Not you..."
That fell flat as a pancake.
"Actually, at the moment, I am. So what now, smart-ass?"
Flint looked around, getting irritated. He was a nobody to old man Schetz.
It was closing time too... no point in arguing with the dick-weed counterman.
"Where's the owner, Mr. Feddor?" he finally asked.
"Feddor? That sum-bitch left already," said Schetz.
"Won't be back 'till Tuesday...funeral, I think. Come back then."
"Maybe I will...I'm pretty cool with Mr. Feddor," Flint said. "Washed cars for him once. That was way before you got here..."
That went nowhere, either.
"Oh, so now you wanna play your Mr. Feddor card? Like I'm supposed to give a good loud pass-gas that you know Feddor... Fine, whatever you say, chop it up with Feddor all you want when he rolls back through, see how that goes... You see these new coupons? They all got expiration dates too."
"My mother bought a car here too, man."
"Some old used clunker though...right?"
"Yeah...so. But you didn't buy that fancy red Mustang you're driving from Feddor, did you?"
"Man gimme a break. We're good customers. That don't count for something Schetz?'
"This ain't the only Ford place, you know."
"'Fraid it is locally, sonny boy."
"You don't gotta be so goddam smug about it," Flint said.
"Yes I do. I get a real kick out of it. And you better watch that edge on your voice, 'fore I step around and kick your little ducktail ass. I wish I had time to waste, 'cause I'd haul off and do it. Don't think I still can't, young buck!"
"Yeah okay, whatever..."
Schetz turned away to hang a set of vehicle keys on a wall rack behind him. It would be awesome, thought Flint, to leap the counter and bash the old man's head in before he knew what hit him. The thought danced across Flint's mind, but faded. All that was in the past now, like a bad dream...let Schetz talk his crap.