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Illustration by Connor Davis
Vladmir Chekov was a sickle in Burt McKay’s side. Ever since that commie bastard hopped off the boat from Russia and opened Chekov’s Rides right next door to McKay Auto, he had been undercutting prices and undermining Burt at every turn. He had a bald head, huge biceps, and a skin-tight Under Armor polo he always kept tucked into a pair of khakis. Burt hated him more than each of his ex-wives put together.
The rivalry between the two used car dealerships revolved around a series of hostile yet indirect power moves. A Cold War, if you will.
When Burt offered his customers no credit checks, Vlad offered no credit checks or proof of insurance. When Burt put up a huge inflatable gorilla outside his dealership, Vlad put up an even bigger inflatable bear. When Burt offered 30 percent off all luxury vehicles, Vlad offered 30 percent off all luxury vehicles and free pancakes. It was an arms race of sweet deals.
As the Cold War raged on, the tactics on both sides grew more aggressive. For a time, Burt made his interns follow Chekov’s customers home. When a customer parked his brand new used car and went to sleep, the interns drizzled a puddle of oil under the vehicle. The next day, the customer returned to Chekov, furious that he had sold him a lemon (or, in this case, a potato). Naturally, Chekov’s mechanics found nothing wrong and the customer was sent on his way, only to find another puddle of oil the next morning.
Chekov responded by sending his lackeys to sneak into the McKay lot under cover of darkness. They broke into several of his finest vehicles, removed the glass from the odometers, and manually rolled the numbers forward with their fingers about 50,000 miles. Then they put the glass back in place and retreated unseen. Dozens of customers, displeased with how used the cars appeared, had slipped through the cracks by the time Burt realized what happened and rolled them back.
About a month ago, things turned violent when two Vietnamese brothers came by. One picked up a car from Burt, the other from Chekov. The brothers were extremely competitive, and as they argued in front of the lots over who scored a better deal, Chekov tossed his customer a baseball bat. Burt tossed his a golf club. The Vietnamese brothers beat the living shit out of each other for about five minutes until they tired themselves out and drove home in their respective pre-owned vehicles.
It seemed there was no end in sight of the ongoing war. But Burt had an ace up his sleeve. His trump card. His hydrogen bomb. His new commercial was set to air across the greater metropolitan area that night, and Chekov’s Rides would become merely an afterthought for the prospective car buyer.
Burt was in high spirits as he sat in the passenger seat of a 2005 Subaru Impreza, his hand resting on the inner thigh of the blonde coed behind the wheel.
“You feel that?” he asked. “It’s the suspension that only comes with the all-wheel drive of a Subaru.”
“Well I certainly feel something, Mr. McKay,” she said, biting her lip.
“Don’t be a slut. It’s unbecoming. Here, let’s take this baby on the obstacle course.”
Burt reached over and grabbed the wheel, weaving the car in a zig-zag pattern around orange traffic cones. She squealed in excitement.
“Speed up here,” he said as they came to a straightaway. “I’m gonna show you the brakes. But don’t you brake until I say so, okay?”
She nodded. The car barreled forward. She glanced over at Burt nervously.
“Um, Mr. McKay?”
Burt pressed down on her thigh to increase the speed.
“Don’t stop yet,” he said. “Wait for it… wait for it…”
The girl slammed her foot on the brake as the car screeched to a halt. She blew the hair out of her face and let out a nervous laugh. Burt rolled down the window and hollered at an intern who was standing an inch from the front bumper.
“Good job, bub. What’s your name again?”
“Th-th-th-thank you, sir,” the intern stammered. “B-B-B-Brandon, sir.” A black stain trickled down his jeans and formed a pool at his feet.
Burt closed that deal with the coed. He even convinced her to waive the 15 percent student discount after bending her over the hood for a few minutes.
Burt zipped up his trousers and started walking back inside when Chekov approached him and jammed a finger in his chest.
“You fucking pizda!” Chekov shouted.
“What are you crying about now?”
“Oh, you know damn well what you did!” Chekov held up a plastic bag full of shit. “Your fucking handymen took deirymo in front seats of my new lineup!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Burt said snidely. “Blame your own interns. It’s probably all those weird mushrooms and roots and shit you people eat.”
“No matter,” Chekov said. “We left leetle surprise in your new lineup as well.”
“What is that supposed to mean you communist piece of –“
“Sir!” an intern called from the front seat of a lightly-used 2011 Corolla. “There’s something sticky on the steering wheel of this Toyota. It feels kind of like… oh God…”
Burt pressed his forehead into Chekov’s.
“You’re lucky I have an important commercial coming on in three minutes or I’d evenly redistribute your teeth across my parking lot, you red-bellied kyke.”
Chekov backed away and fanned his hand in front of his nose.
“Yes of course,” he said. “I wouldn’t want you to miss beeg television debut.” He walked back to his lot laughing maniacally.
Burt unclenched his jaw, took a deep breath, and walked inside his dealership, where all of his workers were gathered around a TV wheeled into the middle of the sales floor. Burt took a seat on a big La-Z-Boy and snapped his fingers. An intern hurried over with a cold Natural Light and placed it in his hand. Burt cracked it open and took a frothy gulp.
On the TV, Charlie Sheen asked Jon Cryer, “So, Japan, huh?” before a laugh track played and the scene faded to black.
“Everyone shut up it’s coming on right now,” Burt demanded of the already silent room.
There was a black pause, then the commercial began. It started with an aerial view of the two dealerships.
“Are you tired of stupeed loud-mouth man in yellow jackets making bad deal for you family? Then come on down to… CHEKOV’S RIDES… where WE take care of YOU!”
Burt’s beer made a loud thud as it hit the hard floor.
On the TV, Chekov rode shirtless on a horse galloping between rows of cars. The horse stood up on its hind legs and neighed, its mane blowing majestically in the wind.
“Here at Chekov’s Rides, we BUCK the competition!”
There was a quick cut to a close-up of a McKay decal. The camera zoomed out to show the decal attached to a burning minivan, with Chekov pulling two soot-covered children from the metal inferno and handing them to grateful parents. He put his hands on his hips and turned to the camera.
“Don’t get burned by piece of sheet Burtmobile!”
Cut to Chekov standing, still shirtless, with a giant sickle in his hand. He reeled back and sliced a giant price tag in half.
“At Chekov’s Rides, we’re SLASHING prices, unlike Bu –“
A brown loafer crashed through the screen of the television. Everyone sat in shocked silence. Burt couldn’t believe it. The commie bastard stole his TV spot. He collapsed to his knees and shouted into the air.
An intern who missed the entire ordeal strolled back inside whistling. He tossed rubber gloves in a trash can.
“Well sir, they’re all clean,” he said. “And let me tell ya, it was not easy cleaning all that Sputnik off the steering wheels. Must be all the mushrooms and roots and shit those people ea –“
A loafer drilled him the face before he could finish his sentence.
To Be Continued….