I miss Florida. Rainbows were cheap to put together in Florida. Plenty of sunshine, truckloads of water. You could have an entire beach town smiling their dentures out for less money than a new Cadillac. If I tried to hustle dough like that for a bow here in Reno, they’d laugh me all the way back to Pensacola. We ain’t got those kinds of stakes, mister. Besides, we got ourselves into a hundred-year lease for these damned sunsets.
Jerry owns Pensacola now. Before I split town, he took me aside in our office.
We stood in the shade of the awning watching gulls circle the parking lot.
“Hey, kid. You look tired.” I leaned against the brick. Jerry took a step closer.
“How is the bow contract for the waterpark coming along?”
“The superintendent wanted us to cover the cloudy day insurance, but I pushed back. They folded. We’re closing on Tuesday,” I said. Truth be told, whispered promises were made over a steak dinner. Delicate and furtive negotiations followed on a moonlit section of the Gulf.
“Nice one, buddy.” Jerry slapped my shoulder. I winced. “Let’s get you a cold one.”
Inside the cramped confines of Jerry’s office, we cracked open a couple of beers. Jerry fanned himself with one of our brochures. I eased myself into a chair across the desk.
“So kid, I been thinking.” Jerry dropped the pamphlet on his desk. “Last couple of deals we’ve made for new bows; they were nothing big, but they were good earners.”
I think of the double loop bow package sold to the theme park in Orlando. Of the lariat bow deal that I cooked up for Dallas. Even threw in an automatic vapor vacuum.
“I like you, kid. You give a good show.” Jerry leaned back in his ratty swivel chair. “You’re good with the numbers, always getting us the edge on these packages you’re putting together.” I took a sip of my beer. “Thanks, Jerry, if you’re happy, I’m happy,” I said.
“Oh, sure, kid, I’m happy.” He raised his hands. “I’m over the moon.” Jerry threw his hands skyward. I nodded, taking another pull off the beer.
He brought his hands together. His beer sat untouched.
“But I’m sitting here wondering: is ignorance really bliss?”
“Jerry, what are you talking about?” I sat up straight.
“I figured you were a good kid, ya know.” His desk drawer slid open. “One of those hey diddle diddle, right up the middle types.” Jerry slammed a thick folder down.
“No cops on this,” Jerry says. His hand covered the folder.
“You gotta go quiet, though.”
“What’s in the folder, Jerry?” I already know. Every deal, every package, every bow I sold this year and the year before. Every brightly constructed pre-arranged and exclusive offer with no strings attached. My dependable crowd-pleasing double bows, triple bows, and moonbows. “It’s all about the optics, kid,” Jerry said on my first day. Shimmering mirages of accounts and wire transfers, watering schedules, and solar diagrams. All that is solid melts into air.