Excerpt 1

Chapter 9: Opportunity Knocks | Page 91

“David hates him. He thinks Copeland is a greedy scumbag. I think...I

think he just has a different outlook. He’s very scornful of anything idealistic,

like he’s threatened by idealism. Maybe he had a few moments of existential

crisis at community college or something, and it scared the shit out of him.

He really just wants to get rich so people will love and respect him.”

“Sometimes I wish I knew what it was that I wanted.” Jules took a long

pull on his beer.

“I guess you want to sell used auto parts, Jules.”

“I know that’s the idea. That’s the justification for buying a hillside

full of junk cars and a beat-up trailer. It’s a business opportunity. But day-

to-day, I can’t keep my eye on the ball. I can’t think about it as a business.

Some mornings I wake up, and it all comes back to me, that I’m in Morton

Moller’s bed and I own a junkyard. I have to piece together how it happened.

It’s strange. I guess I have to get motivated and run it like a business, but

I didn’t really think about selling things. I just thought I’d like to own a

junkyard. I don’t think I could sell it again. I took this leap, and now I’m

stuck with the obligations. I was trying to avoid day-to-day obligations. Do

you want to sell real estate day-to-day?”

Jules and Martha sat silently, each looking down at the table, each

tracing thoughts alone. A breeze through the open window above the sink

stirred the still air in the kitchen. The sound of crickets drifted in.

Martha broke the trance. “I want to make a living and not worry

about getting busted. I’ve been on the wrong side of the law for so

long. I used to like being a rebel and an outlaw. Fifteen years ago, being

disreputable gained you respect. Now we have Nancy Reagan telling

people to ‘Just say no.’ It really doesn’t make any sense. Congressmen

can celebrate the passage of anti-drug legislation that put Doug Willis in

jail by getting drunk on liquor sold by the State. You can get smashed,

beat your wife, and never suffer consequences worse than a hangover

and a bad conscience, but if you get stoned in your kitchen on weed you

grew out back, and have a pleasant conversation with your wife, you get

busted and go to jail. I give up.”

“Don’t you feel funny in that Centennial 21 business suit?”

Martha pulled a strand of hair out of her face and tucked it behind her

ear. “I did at first, but now I like sitting at my desk and driving my Volvo,

and carrying a briefcase. It makes me feel like I’m acceptable, even though

I haven’t really changed at all. It’s sort of a game I play every day.”

“Don’t you think it will change you though? I think about working

for a corporation in New York, like my mother wants me to, and I get the

willies. I don’t know what I want, but I don’t want that.”