my brother Gordon is going to the auto auction in Richmond. Want to tag along? I see there are some state vehicles we may be able to buy for a decent price.”
“As long as you promise me we won’t buy something we don’t need”, she conceded.
“I’ll do my best to avoid bidding”, I promised.
She responded that she would be watching me like a hawk.
Upon arrival, we soon discovered that state cars were going to sell for way more than we were willing to pay. I resigned myself to a quiet bench in one of the bays, watching the sales proceed. There was a constant stream of bidding chatter. “How do these guys talk so fast?”, I wondered.
Meanwhile, Laura was nowhere in sight.
Sometimes, I have the right to remain silent, but not the ability. A shiny, gold Nissan Sentra was entering the sales booth. There was stark silence. No one made a bid on the car. The words “$200” burst from my mouth. “$200 is bid, will someone give me $300? 300, 300, 300.”, the auctioneer quickly said.
“Sold to the man in the Virginia Tech hat for $200″, shouted the auctioneer.
I sat quietly in my chair as a lady approached me and said: “Sir, I represent the finance company who owns this car. I am not willing to sell the car for $200, but will take $600 for it”.
I told her that I would check it out and let her know. A few moments later, the engine running quietly, and no tears on the upholstery, I said, “I’m willing to pay the $600″.
About that time, adult supervision disguised as Laura returned, looked at me incredulously, and said, “Why did you buy that ugly thing?”
“Because it is worth more than $600”, I retorted.
“Well, I am not going to ride in it. I hope you plan to sell it”, she insisted.
“I do”, I said.
Laura followed me home in our Honda, just to be sure the Nissan would make it. I stopped at my buddy’s filling station in Daleville and asked, “Do you care if I leave this here with a For Sale sign on it. I marked the sign with $2500 or best offer. Two days later I got a call and went to meet the fellow. He drove the Nissan and said, “Would you take $2200 for it?”
“Yes”, I said, and we drove to the Bank of Botetourt to settle the sale.
Twenty minutes later, I had a certified check for $2200. Laura grabbed the check and said, “this is going in the book account”. We can use the money to pay book editors!
On the way home from the sale, Laura and I stopped at the Wendy’s in Farmville. A fellow walked in the Wendy’s and we struck up a conversation. He gave me a terrific story of his service at Liberty Bridge in Viet Nam and led me to a second story, from his son, who was also a marine, and fought in the bloody Battle of Fallujah, Iraq. Both stories are in our first book and will be mentioned more in a future blog.
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Above: Jerry Barnes, Author of Combat Survivor Stories, and wife Laura Barnes