Cheaply Done

It was a cool autumn Saturday in H_______.

A new car. The lot was full of them. But Cecil settled on a last year’s model that had logged only 178 miles, all of them test driven by other prospective buyers who were, he imagined, unable to recognize the car’s economical functionality and reduction in sticker price. It lacked anything beyond the standards. No power locks. No power windows. No cruise control. And manual shifting of the front seats and side mirrors, just like the twenty-five year-old model he had just traded in. He drove off the lot with the same caution he had with the old one.

No one had ever accused Cecil of frivolity. Co-workers noted the repeated use of the same brown bag that carried, each day, the same cheese and baloney sandwich and green apple, until the folds would finally split open, frayed like the hem of his decades-old khakis. Times had changed over the years, progress continually making its mark, and technology advancing exponentially. Yet Cecil had stayed true to his style of haircut, self-cut and parted on the side, a sweep of graying hair parked tightly against the right side of his forehead. And now he would park the new car in the same old garage attached to the same old house he had been raised in and he had, many years ago, inherited.

The old farmhouse had stood the test of time as the city crept further out into rural territory, finally surrounding the red brick structure with modern-day homes, populated with youthful couples and their offspring. But none of the houses’ appearances could catch up with the agefulness that was Cecil’s childhood home. Both old and newly-planted trees, growing in the other yards, paled by comparison to the great birch and oak which provided birds with a bird’s eye view of the highest of perches for as far as the bird’s eye could see.

Atop the roof could be found the archaic television aerial, the kind made with far more elements than the number of channels it could receive. And inside, without an HD box for his wood-console tube TV, the number of stations received had stood at zero for several years. The inherited living room furniture had remained stationary, oft-repaired, just like the kitchen appliances, and all by Cecil’s own hand. An old rotary telephone hung on the kitchen wall, sturdy and reliable, Cecil believed, as any of the new wireless phones available on the market.

A drizzly and dark Monday morning greeted the early riser Cecil the actuarian, ready to drive his new car the fifteen miles to work at the H________ office for Prudential Life Insurance. As he began his drive, he realized his wiper switch, unlike his old car, had an intermittent position. Thinking to himself, here’s another way to cut costs by preserving the number of times the wipers would flip to and fro, thus saving on the wiper motor usage while delaying wiper blade degradation.

His difficult squinting through the intermittently-drizzle-clouded windshield gave way to Cecil’s presumed benefits of intermittently-used wipers. Ingenuity, seated in the passenger seat, seemed to pat Cecil on the back, congratulating him for saving pennies on the dollar.

Halfway to work, along the remotest stretch of his commute and in the very middle between wiper swipes, Cecil had no time to hit his brakes as a buck lunged high enough above the new car grill, yet low enough to front-hooves first through the windshield, thus expediting the will-granted expense of a pine-box coffin at a funeral affording no more than two hymns and a standard, boilerplate eulogy.


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