Fiction Submission- Robert Egan "Karma"

Here is another super awesome fiction submission. This one is by Robert Egan. Enjoy and share!


            The Ford white Tacoma broke its orbit around the crowded parking lot and made for the ATM island. A hunched, attentive young man lingered in front of the ATM screen.
            “What kind of music do you think he listens to?” Tate asked from the Tacoma’s passenger seat and fiddled with the radio knob.
            “Indie rock, but let’s circle back. Dude doesn’t even have on matching socks,” Cody said from behind the wheel.

            “No, check out his backpack – it’s nice, Swiss Army brand.” Tate, having found what he thought was a suitable radio station, turned up the music and rolled down the window to quell any further argument. Melancholy wailing punctuated by halfhearted drumming suffused the truck’s interior, as what Cody guessed might be an old Radiohead song moaned free from Tate’s open window. The young man looked their way as he concluded his ATM transaction.
            “Hey boss, you know anything about speakers?” Tate called. Cody would’ve said “dude” or “man”, but “boss” was at least better than “bro” – still the young man approached the truck with a questioning smile.
            “Speakers? Why?”
            “Listen, I’m going be upfront with you – we just knocked out a home installation and have some extra units – Affinity 5000. Our boss, he’s from Bangladesh, will just keep them for himself. Each of these units is worth two grand.”
            “Oh I don’t need any speakers.” The young man backed up but didn’t walk away when Tate got out of the truck.
            “Good, we don’t want to give ’em up. Know a good storage unit around here? Boss wants to meet us for lunch in the next half-hour, so we got to get rid of -” Tate’s spiel trailed off as the young man followed him around to the truck bed.
            Cody sighed and silenced the awful radio station. He looked at the rear view mirror. By now Tate would be telling the young man how their invented boss from Bangladesh threatened to fire them if they said anything about the frequently misappropriated speakers. The young man would be thinking of how he could subvert this social injustice of big fish eat little fish by purchasing and turning around an overlooked speaker unit to everyone’s profit. Tate would be showing him the bar code, the warranty, the packaging, working to be a few hundred dollars richer before setting off for another crowded parking lot. Soon, the young man would be lugging the speakers home, trying to test wires without the right connections. The speakers would have slipshod components, be struggling to perform the most basic of functions. And the young man would be learning a basic lesson: Someone will always be overcharging, whether or not it works. Your daughter will be falling apart, struggling to perform the most basic of functions, and you’ll be moving lousy speakers to help her lousy precious heart.
            In the rear view mirror, Cody saw Tate rub his fat shaved head vigorously and realized that he’d been signaling his need for sales support for some time now. Cody opened his door and walked over to face Tate and the young man across the truck bed.
            “Dude, we don’t have time for this – let’s find a storage unit before we have to meet for lunch,” Cody said.
            “Hang on, we were talking about karma, how it always comes back to you,” Tate said, a little more nasal and little less country than he’d been speaking minutes before.
            “Yeah, I mean you can like create your own heaven or hell right here on Earth,” the young man added in his own nasal, refined voice.
            “Why not just call it luck? Karma sounds a little Bangladesh-y to me. Luck, karma – you take it and turn it to your advantage or you don’t. So let’s do that and find a storage unit,” Cody said.
            “If this guy believed in karma, he’d be taking the speakers and offering to buy us steak dinner for lunch the next time we’re in town,” Tate said without grinning.
            “I can do 300,” the young man said.
            “Anything under 500 is killing us. This guy’s got a daughter with a heart condition.” Tate pointed at Cody, who looked down and didn’t say anything. Cody didn’t know what to say in response to the unscripted truth. He didn’t want to look up and see their eyes expecting him to sell his story.
            “Karma, yeah,” he mumbled. Puzzled and hurt, he trudged to the driver’s side and got back in the Tacoma.
            A grinning Tate soon rejoined him, and they left the ATM island’s shores.
            “$600 my man. We played his heart strings, and you were worried about his socks not matching,” Tate said.
            “What’s my daughter got to do with any of this?” Cody asked.
            “Improv – can’t believe we hadn’t thought to mention her before. Plus, it’s true,” Tate said.
            “Yeah, but nothing else we say is.”
            “I don’t get it.”
            “Just leave my little girl out of the sales pitch.”
            “Well, you can use your $300 to get the sand out of your vagina.”
            “Hey, let’s stop and get some beer.”
            Cody grumbled but pulled into the nearest Chevron station. While Tate walked in for the beer, Cody thought he could hear the speakers rumbling in the truck bed – monstrous, substandard hearts fighting for life – but it was only the excessive bass of a passing car.
            Tate waddled back to the truck laden with two cases of Lone Star and with a Texas Two-fer lottery ticket clenched in his teeth. Cody let him shift uncomfortably before opening the passenger door from the inside.
            They drove along one of the freeway’s minor tributaries, sipping beer until Tate sprayed foam all over the dashboard. Cody pulled onto the shoulder.
            “I-I four!” Tate said, his eyes bulging over the scratched-off lottery ticket.
            “For what?” Cody asked.
            “Four hundred… four hundred thousand. That’s four what,” Tate said and sprayed more beer.
            It wasn’t a plan or even a thought – Cody’s bottle shattered against Tate’s temple on its own accord. The heavy flashlight that he kept next to the seat followed its lead.
            When it was done, Cody smoothed flat the lottery ticket to reveal his – no his daughter’s winning numbers.
            Nothing matched up – Tate’s joke or honest mistake. Cody imagined he’d check the losing ticket four hundred thousand more times before finding a storage unit.
            “Yeah, karma,” Cody said, surprised by how hurt and puzzled he sounded.
Robert Egan lives in Austin and has mildly useless superpowers that involve readily available household items.
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