I’ve been working on a horror story called “Satan’s Salesman.” It follows a man as he’s recruited by Perdition Investments for his remarkable sales skills. They hope to put those skills to use in offering people anything they want in exchange for their immortal souls. On the one hand, Shane Lowe (our main character) likes the idea of being incredibly wealthy, but he also can’t deny the moral quandry of taking people’s souls.
Anyway, that’s more or less the synopsis, and I would love some feedback. I’m going to post this over at Wattpad, too, and would love to know what you think. I’m looking to post a chapter a week or so. Maybe more depending on the speed I’m working on this. Now that I’m back into my writing habit, I’ve been writing both Broken Nights 2 and Satan’s Salesman fairly reglarly (Averaging around 1000 words a day).
So, without further ado, please let me provide you with the previously mentioned material for your feedback. Thank you in advance!
As Shane Lowe slid the keys to his Sebring into his pocket, he pressed the lock button. The resulting quick honking of the horn let him know that the car was locked.
He’d parked his black car in the visitor spot directly in front of Crescent Hill Family Dentistry.
Shane was dressed in his usual work outfit of a blue dress shirt tucked into his black dress pants with matching black shoes. Under his arm, he carried a black binder with CIT embossed in the fake leather.
Pushing through the glass front door, Shane was greeted with the typical dentist’s office. The waiting room was smaller and chairs lined the walls while in the center of the floor was an uneven stack of children’s books.
Shane turned toward the counter and smiled at the older woman behind it.
“Hi,” he extended his hand over the counter, “Shane Lowe with Computer Information Technologies. I’m a little early for a meeting with Dr. Mummert.”
“I’ll let him know that you’re here,” she stood up before waving at the waiting room. “Feel free to have a seat.”
Shane did just that and stepped over a couple of toys before picking a chair near the reception desk. Placing his binder on his lap, he was sitting for only a few seconds before Dr. Joseph Mummert came forward.
He shook Shane’s hand before saying, “Come on back.”
Shane followed the dentist as they walked by several of the dentist chairs, only half of them with patients. They entered a room that Shane knew from previous visits was both the Server Room and the Break Room.
Dr. Mummert grabbed a desk chair on wheels and spun it around, gesturing for Shane to take a seat. Grabbing another chair, the dentist swung one leg over the other and crossed his hands.
“Well, what do you have for me?”
Shane smiled inwardly. It was show time.
“When I left your office on Friday, you had given me a lot of information on how your network runs and I started thinking.”
“I thought you were going to have a quote for me on a server upgrade,” Dr. Mummert was already getting impatient.
Shane unzipped his binder and brought out a bound folder proposal. “I did, but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that your part-time IT guy isn’t always available when you need him.”
Shane was referencing the local pastor that would occasionally help the dentist office with their technology.
“I put together this quote for the hardware to replace your current setup but what you need isn’t hardware, it’s a reliable person to maintain your network.”
“You want me to hire someone?” Dr. Mummert raised an eyebrow.
Shane shook his head. “No, what I’m saying is I don’t want to sell you this shiney new BMW if you’re not going to take it in for an oil change. So,” he paused, taking a breath and letting his words sink in, “my proposal is a shiny new BMW and scheduled quarterly oil changes.”
The Doctor took the proposal from Shane and began flipping through it. “With a monthly fee?”
“It’s a service plan. You pay the monthly fee and it covers any and all mishaps for the live of the hardware. Plus, we’ll remotely monitor the health of your servers so that we can be aware of problems before they happen. In other words, we’ll bring the oil changes to you and you won’t even know we’re here.”
“That is still a lot of money.”
Shane nodded slowly and leaned back in his chair as Dr. Mummert continued to flip through the proposal. Years of sales experience told Shane that the dentist wasn’t even looking at the pages so much as thinking about the numbers that he had already seen.
“You could look at it as a lot of money, but that’s only looking at half of the picture. How long were your servers down before your guy could get them up and running again?”
Dr. Mummert set the proposal down on his lap and looked at Shane. “Three days.”
Shane nodded, “Is that about average for when your servers go down?”
“More or less.”
Shane was taking notes in his binder. “And how many times has your server been down this year?”
“Twice so far, but it’s only June.”
“Can you still clean teeth when the servers are down?”
“No,” Dr. Mummert shook his head. “Our servers have all of the patient files and scheduling software on them.”
Shane stopped writing and looked at the dentist. “The average business loses $3,000.00 per day that they don’t have access to their servers,” Shane paused again. “Is that about on par with what you lose in one day of not being open?”
Dr. Mummert’s face took on an annoyed expression as if the very question was a joke.
“It’s closer to $10,000.00 per day for us.”
Shane’s eyes went wide in an imitation of surprise. He’d had a general idea how much money Crescent Hill Family Dentistry would lose in one day of no business, but he needed Dr. Mummert to see that $10,000.00 in loss per day was something that surprised someone who sees this kind of thing every day.
Shane needed the dentist to see that the office was in dire trouble.
“So, you’re on track to lose more than sixty thousand dollars this year because your IT guy was out of town?”
“Alright, I see your point.” He held up the proposal with one hand, “And this would stop that?”
Shane nodded. “It won’t do anything to recoup what you’ve already lost, but the hardware is largest part of the quote. After that, you pay a few hundred dollars a year and never have another day without access to your servers.”
“How can I say no?”
“You still could, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”
Dr. Mummert gave a tight-lipped smile and nodded. “And if I were to call your competitors, would they be able quote me something cheaper?”
Shane tilted his head from side to side before answering. “A few of my competitors could, I have no doubt, but none of them have done the due diligence to provide you with a solution that’s catered specifically to your needs.” Shane shrugged. “They could do cheaper, but they’ll only work for you, while I have already proven that I’m willing to work with you.”
Dr. Mummert stood up and stuck out his hand. Shane pumped it twice as the dentist said, “Do whatever you have to do to get the ball rolling on this, I don’t want another ten thousand dollar day.”
“Thank you. I’ll head back to the office and start putting together the paperwork. I’ll bring it by tomorrow?”
“Just email it to me, let’s not delay on this.”
Shane agreed and thanked Dr. Mummert again before leaving the same way that he came in, no longer hiding his smile.
Stepping into the morning daylight never felt so empowering. This feeling was why he did his job. Sales was like gambling, but you were allowed to convince the dealer which card to draw next. When Shane walked away from the table a winner, it was a great day. He wouldn’t win them all, but he wasn’t going to stop stepping up to the table. Winning simply felt too damned good.
Pulling out his keys, Shane climbed into his car slowly, taking a minute to take in the sign for Crescent Hill Family Dentistry. This was his moment. He could feel that something big in his life had just changed from that one conversation with one desperate dentist.
He drove only about a block away before pulling into a Slop & Save station and grabbing his phone.
“Lowe! Are you in Mummert’s will, yet?” Shane’s manager, Steve Horton asked.
“Not quite, but I closed him on the server and maintenance.” Shane fist-pumped the air as he said it.
Steve let out a loud curse of excitement and the sound of a door closing echoed on the phone. “Do you realize what you just did?”
Shane’s smile couldn’t get any wider as he answered, “Met my annual quota in half the time?”
“You just closed your quota six months early.” He laughed loudly. “I haven’t seen someone do that in,” he paused while he retrieved the memory, “almost twenty years.”
“I’m still set to close two smaller PC deals this month.”
“Relax, they’ll be here tomorrow. Go home, I’ll get the paperwork ready for you.”
The drive home was interrupted only once when Shane stopped for a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon, a frozen pizza, and a pack of gum.
Before he left the parking lot of the local Slop & Save, he sent out two quick texts.
The first said, “Hey babe, party at my place. Inviting Dale, so wear pants.”
The only reply was a winking face emoji.
The second text read, “Closed the dentist office. Huge win. Celebrating at my place. Wear pants.”
There was no reply to that one, even though Shane would have expected at least a ‘lol’ from anyone else.
From the grocery store, Shane’s apartment complex was only three miles away.
His building was taller and had been compared to the building from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters. Not the firehouse, but the really tall one that gets covered in marshmallow.
His apartment was on the ninth floor. Taking the elevator up, Shane hummed to himself as he thought about everything that today meant for him.
The elevator opened up only two doors from his apartment and he was inside without having to fumble with his keys at all.
As it turned out, he didn’t even need his keys. His door was unlocked.
Going in, he asked loudly, “I hope you’re not naked with the door unlocked.”
“How would my random gentleman callers get in if I didn’t leave the door unlocked?”
Standing in the kitchen and sipping on a Rolling Rock beer was Margaret “Maggie” Powers. She was a short brunette with large glasses. If that was the only thing she had going for her, she’d fall in line with the nerd stereotype, but there was much more to her than that. Maggie had an hourglass figure and an attitude to match. She was a woman who knew what she liked and talked to everyone as if they were old friends. It was more than just feeling familiar with people, she wanted them to feel familiar with her, and she exuded that energy everywhere that she went.
“Hey handsome,” she crossed over to him and gave him a kiss, holding her beer away from him. They’d played this game many times. Maggie or Shane would go in for a kiss and then the other would try to take their drink.
Shane didn’t even try this time, choosing to instead drink in her kiss deeply.
When they broke for air, Shane answered her question.
“I just closed a huge deal. It closed my quota six months early.”
“Huge check?” Maggie asked excitedly.
Shane grabbed her beer from her and took a pull off of it before nodding.
Maggie squealed with delight and kissed Shane again. “That’s awesome, babe!” She kissed him again. “I’m so proud of you.”
When they broke from the second kiss, Shane sauntered over toward his bedroom to change his clothes. As he did so, Maggie began pawing through the paper grocery bag.
“You just closed a huge deal, and your idea of celebrating is to get a frozen pizza?”
“And bourbon. My idea of celebrating is to dive deeper into my horrible lifestyle and eat gross frozen pizzas and drink good alcohol,” Shane laughed from the bedroom. “It is but a meager existence that I lead.”
She grabbed the frozen pizza and started tearing the box open. “I’ll continue to encourage your horrible lifestyle then.” She shoved the pizza in the oven and directly on the rack. “Is Dale coming over?”
“I texted him but he didn’t reply.”
She raised her eyebrow, “So, yes then? He never replies.” Maggie spread her arms wide. “We should get a huge spotlight with a big letter D on it. Then he wouldn’t have to reply.”
“Yeah, it’s a great idea but what would that make us?”
Maggie shrugged. “Isn’t that obvious? I’d be the sexy villain and you’d be the sidekick in a leotard.”
“Or, I could just text him and not expect a response. That’s worked so far.”
“Well, he’s no fun,” Dale shot back as he came in the unlocked door.
Now dressed in an AC/DC t-shirt and jeans, Shane walked over to the fridge and pulled out another Rolling Rock, waggling it at his friend as he came into the kitchen.
Not surprisingly, Dale ignored the bottle and tore the wax seal from the bourbon. He walked to the cupboard and grabbed a tumbler before pouring himself a glass.
“Who was I kidding,” Shane put the beer back in the fridge.
“I’m surprised that it wasn’t already open.” Dale smiled as he clinked glass to Shane’s bottle before sipping his own drink.
“So, you closed the Dentist Office?” He didn’t wait for Shane to reply, already knowing the answer to his rhetorical question. “Congratulations. Maybe now you can stop taking advantage of people and work for a living.”
Dale had never been too keen on his friend’s chosen line of work, but he couldn’t deny that Shane was very good at it. Dale had been raised by a morally righteous set of parents who had impressed a lot of their after-school special lessons upon their son. Unfortunately for everyone who knew Dale, he had listened very carefully to most of those lectures. Dale was aware of how his biases were seen by others, and had learned to keep most of his opinions to himself, but one or two sneaked out of him every once in a while.
“And do what?” Shane said, going through the same conversation that they had had hundreds of times before. “FPS Driver? Tell me again what your paycheck looks like?”
Dale tilted his head back and finished his glass before pouring himself another one. “It’s not always about the money, buddy.”
Shane and Dale had met in college working in the computer lab at Lehman Hall. They’d both graduated from Crescent Hill Community College, and had taken a few months to find themselves and the careers that made them happy. While Shane was quick to discover his love of business and sales, Dale had found a job as a truck driver, delivering packages for FPS. He only made a fraction of what Shane made, but for him it was about the wholesome honesty of his job. He saw sales, and specifically that included all types and forms of sales, as a con. If a person had to convince you to buy something, than you didn’t need it.
“I know that I can be less than supportive with your job, but,” he clinked his glass again against Shane’s bottle, “I am excited for you. I know that this is something that you’ve been working hard for.”
“Thanks. You’re still an asshole, but thanks.”
Dale responded with another swig of the bourbon.
“Well,” Maggie finally joined in on the conversation, “I am definitely very proud of you and the potential changes to our lives that this could mean.”
Dale raised an eyebrow. “What does that mean?”
“Beach Club,” Shane answered. “My company gives out incentives in the form of cash and trips to sunny places when you get over a hundred percent to quota.” He grabbed Maggie around the waste as she walked by, squeezing her close to him. “It looks like me and the little lady are heading to Bermuda for Christmas.”
They kissed quickly and Shane let go of Maggie to peek into the window on the stove. “Not ready yet.”
“Bermuda? Wow,” Dale smiled his corny smile, “don’t get lost.”
“You’re hilarious,” Maggie countered almost out of habit to Dales poor puns.
“So, not only did you just bring in a year’s worth of commission in half the time, but you also managed to score a trip?” Dale nodded approvingly. “Not bad for a damned dirty salesman.”
“That’s only the half of it,” Shane countered.
“What else could there be?”
“Promotion,” Maggie said.
“Yeah,” Shane continued, “Sara Durant, the current Global Account Manager was given until tomorrow to get her to twenty-five percent to plan. It’s been a rough year for her. If she can’t close deal tomorrow, than her job is up for grabs.”
“And let me guess,” Dale frowned, “you’re the most likely candidate to replace her?”
“Get that sour look off of your face,” Shane said. “I don’t like that she’s going to lose her job, but everyone who gets promoted is replacing somebody.”
“Yes,” Dale admitted, “but you don’t have to savor her defeat.”
Shane polished his beer off and grabbed a tumbler for himself. “Shut up, Dale. She walked with the hangman to the noose, and she helped him put the rope around it. All she had to do was take her job seriously for a few months and she wouldn’t be in this place. Instead, she told the hangman where the lever was to drop her.”
“Your analogy was a little over the top, but holds together well,” Maggie winked at Shane before pushing him aside and pulling out the pizza.
Dale held up his hands in surrender. “Fine, you’re right. I’ll stop being…well, me, and let’s just enjoy the night. What’s the plan anyway?”
“Drink, eat pizza, and watch this movie I just heard about called ‘Turbo Kid.’”
“Sounds like a cartoon,” Dale’s frown echoed his opinion.
“No,” Maggie said, adopting a frown of her own. “It’s a apocalypse future thing, meant to look like it was made in the eighties.” She paused before adding, “and it’s kind of gorey.”
“You had me at eighties,” Dale grabbed a slice of pizza and immediately dropped it back onto the cutting board. “Hot, hot, hot, ouch.”
In unison, Shane and Maggie said, “No shit, Sherlock.”
They migrated toward Shane’s living room, bringing the whole pizza on the cutting board along with a couple of plates and the bourbon.
As the three friends sat down to enjoy their movie, drinks, and food, Shane couldn’t focus on the film. As much as he loved the movie, his thoughts were focused on what today’s sale had meant. Even if the promotion wasn’t his, and he had no reason to think that it wouldn’t be, the being over quota meant that his commission percentage went up. He would be making much more money for the rest of the year, and he was already making more money than anyone else in his position was likely to do. He was on top of the world and tomorrow would bring an entirely new adventure.