Called Off Negotiations; The Summer Of ’62

On the ride home, Rich thought that this might be the last time he might ever peddle a bike. He waited for his dad to come home and as soon as he came in the house, Rich told him about Joe wanting to sell the motorbike to him.

How much does he want for it?” Mr. Larsen ask.

Fifty dollars,” Rich said.

That’s too much,” Mr. Larsen said.

How do you know?” Rich said. “You haven’t even seen it.”

I’ll gitcha a good deal on it,” Mr. Larsen said. “Ya want a good deal, don’t ya?”

Sure,” Rich said,. “but that’s a good price. He paid a hundred for it.”

So he says,” Mr. Larsen said. “I bet he didn’t even pay fifty for it.”

Shortly after supper, Mr. Larsen, Mrs. Larsen, and Rich got in their car and drove to the Quinns’ home.

Rich was excited. “I can ride it home, can’t I?”

Sure,” Mrs. Larsen said, “we’ll follow you home.”

I can’t wait,” Rich said.

You have to be careful,” Mrs. Larsen said. “It’s not like riding a bicycle.”

Yeah, I know, Mom. I’ll be careful.” Rich paused and said enthusiastically, “Hey, if we need some milk or bread, I can just run and get it.”

Mr. Larsen sat in the passenger’s seat, quiet the entire ride. Rich had the fifty dollars in his pocket and smile on his face. They drove up the Quinns’ driveway and stopped as Joe came out to the car.

You want to go take another look?” Joe said.

Without hesitation, Joe and Rich went to the garage. Mr. Quinn stood at the door to the house and invited Mr. Larsen and Mrs. Larsen in.

Joe explained to Rich some of the functions and peculiarities of the Parilli motorbike. Rich was so excited he was unable to comprehend a word said. His only thought was to ride wherever he wanted to go.

Let’s go inside,” Joe said motioning with his head and arm.

I got the money with me,” Rich said. “Fifty dollars.”

Joe smiled peculiarly and Rich followed him into the house.

Mr. Quinn sat in his padded rocker and Mr. Larsen sat across the room from him in Mrs. Quinn’s chair. Mrs. Larsen and Mrs. Quinn sat on the couch between the chairs. Joe and Rich walked into the room and stood behind the couch. A heated negotiating session was already in progress.

It’s worth every bit of seventy-five dollars,” Mr. Quinn said not looking at Mr. Larsen, but out the window.

Bull!” Mr. Larsen said glancing at Mrs. Larsen and then at Rich. “It’s worth thirty-five and not a penny more.”

You don’t know your backside from a hole in the ground,” Mr. Quinn waved away at Mr. Larsen. “You oughtta get out and check things out. Yer still livin‘ back in the thirties. You might have been hot stuff then, but this is now.”

I’m still twice the man you are and twice the man you’ll ever be,” Mr. Larsen emphasized by slamming the palm of his hand on the arm of his chair.

Mr. Larsen’s friends and family seemed to achieve a strange delight from upsetting him. Or perhaps, he received an equal amount of gratification from his outbursts. Whether it be religion, politics, sports, or anything, Mr. Larsen was willing to be goaded into a spirited debate or angry outburst.

Butch,” Mrs. Quinn said to shame Mr. Larsen, “don’t be ridiculous.”

Who’s being ridiculous?” Mr. Larsen said. “It wasn’t me who started with this bull about seventy-five dollars.”

That’s called negotiations,” Mr. Quinn chuckled.

It’s called trying to screw a kid out of his hard earned money,” Mr. Larsen said.

And what was you trying to do with this thirty-five dollar business?” Mr. Quinn said. “You was trying to screw my boy. And what do you know about hard earned money? You haven’t worked hard a day in your life.”

Mr. Larsen grabbed the arms of the chair and thrust forward.

That’ll be enough of that,” Mrs. Larsen said.

Mrs. Quinn laid her hand on Mrs. Larsen’s leg and said, “Now let’s stay out of this. Let the men settle it.”

Mrs. Larsen looked at her indignantly. Rich looked at Joe, surprised at what was happening. Rich thought it was all settled. Joe was calm, as if this was normal and expected.

Joe and I already agreed on fifty dollars, didn’t we Joe?” Rich said looking to Joe for confirmation and got only a blank stare.

Stay out of this,” Mr. Larsen barked. “You should have kept your mouth shut to begin with.”

Mr. Larsen pointed to Mr. Quinn. “You’ve brown-nosed to get every job you ever had. Don’t tell me about hard work. I was in the war while you brown-nosed to keep out of the draft. You were at home with the 4F‘s, queers, sleepwalkers, and bed wetters, while real men was in the war.”

War!” Mr. Quinn said. “There wasn’t any war in Panama. You was as far from the war as you could get. You were further from the war than I was.”

Mr. Larsen jumped up out of his chair and doubled his fists. “Get on your feet and let’s settle this man to man.”

Mr. Quinn leaped to his feet and shoved his chest out and his right fist was ready to strike a blow. Joe stood amazingly calm. Rich looked to him, to say something about the fifty dollars agreed on price. He said nothing.

Stop it!” Rich screamed. “I don’t want the motorbike.”

Mrs. Quinn and Mrs. Larsen rushed between Mr. Quinn and Mr. Larsen and kept them apart.

Just get out of my house,” Mr. Quinn said. “You’re not welcome here anymore.”

Mrs. Quinn added, “I think you better go now.” She politely flipped her hands like she was chasing flies out of the house

Mr. Larsen, Mrs. Larsen, and Rich walked from the house like being asked to leave the country club. They got in the car and drove away. Mr. Larsen referred to Mr. Quinn by every name imaginable.

Mr. Larsen turned to Rich and said, “See what happens when ya open yer mouth. From now on keep yer mouth shut. If you’d kept out of this, none of this would have happened. You can’t do business with the Quinns. Joe will screw ya every chance he gets. He’s just like his ole man. The only way he ever got anything is by screwin’ people.”

Dad,” Rich said. “Joe and I already agreed on fifty dollars.”

Shut up!” Mr. Larsen bellowed and cursed. “You just screwed up a good friendship.”

Rich said nothing more and sat quietly in the back seat. He did not want another episode like the one that occurred the night of the movie.

For the next couple of weeks, Joe and Rich saw each other around Slabtown. They talked, but never about that night, nor about the Parilli motorbike. Rich thought Joe was too embarrassed, at least Rich was.


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