A Satiric Soap Opera Published Monthly Since 1984.
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by Alice Cherbonnier

Chapter 147: Louella Says No At Last

THE THREE OF THEM, Louella and her sister Candy and Candy's 19-year-old son, Mason, sat huddled around a grey metal desk in the used car salesman's cubicle. It was dark and cold outside; the cars on the lot shimmered enticingly under spotlights. Mason stared longingly at the red Maxima he'd set his heart on.

"So are you gonna cosign the note or not?" Candy snapped at Louella. "I mean, if you don't wanna do it, if you can't see your way clear and all, well, I guess I'll be the one."

"Well, I know how much Mason wants this car-"

"You got that right!" he said, eyes begging her to say yes. "The babes will really look at me twice in that machine!"

"But Mason, you only make about $150 clear every week. How can you sit there and tell me you can pony up $300 a month for 48 months for that thing?"

"Look, I don't nose around in what you do with your money, do I? I mean, you're a grown-up, and so am I. You've gotta trust me on this. I'll be good for it. You don't have to worry. There's no risk!"

"But what about car insurance? It'll be at least $1,500 a year. That's more than $100 more a month on top of your loan payments. Plus there's the cost of gas and repairs, maybe another hundred bucks. That leaves you with only about $100 a month to live on. Do you want to live with your mom and grandparents for four more years?"

That sobered Mason up. "I'm probably gonna move to Florida," he said importantly. "My buddy and I think there's more work down there. I'm not sticking around this town, no way!"

Candy cracked her gum.

Louella studied the lint on the sleeve of her coat.

The salesman, Mr. Adamo, came back with some legal-looking papers. "Good news!" he addressed Mason. "We got you cleared for a loan. Took some doing since you don't have a credit history, but they said it would be okay with an approved co-signer." He looked expectantly at Candy and Louella.

"What's the interest rate on this loan?" asked Louella.

"I'm not sure," said Mr. Adamo. "They just give me a factor and the totals for principal and interest. It would take some math to figure it out. But the payment's just where the young man wants it to be, that's the important thing, right?"

Mason was all smiles. "Ain't that great, Mom? I'm finally gonna have a car! I'll be able to drive you out to Eastpoint and stuff."

"How much can Mason expect that car will be worth in four years?" asked Louella.

"Ma'am, that's hard to say," said Mr. Adamo. "Depends on how the young man takes care of it."

"Well, we'd like to take some time to think about this," said Louella, surprising herself. She stood up. Candy and Mason looked at her like she was nuts.

"Well, that's up to you," said the salesman smoothly, "but that car's not going to sit on the lot long at this price. It would be too bad if he lost it."

"There are plenty of other used cars out there," said Louella. "Probably repossessed ones. Thanks for your time." She was trembling as she walked into the hallway and toward the exit. It's like walking away from the altar, she thought.


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