The front gate creaked softly, swinging a couple inches back and forth in the gentle breeze. Hayley gave a silent thanks to whoever had left it unlatched; that was one less obstacle for her! She pushed through and then gathered her strength for the short path to the house, normally covered in a few easy strides. However, with her legs tied together, it took her several difficult hops, each bounce forward causing her to land uncertainly on the sidewalk. She would then steady herself and take a deep breath through her nose before attempting the next. The two steps leading up to the white door presented her with her most difficult challenge, but with determination, she conquered them as well.
It was not easy to ring the doorbell either, for her wrists were tied behind her back, and her hands carried her heavy sample case, but she twisted her body to face the deserted street. She jabbed blindly with a finger, once, twice, thrice, before she connected with the button and then twisted around once again, trying to compose herself as well as circumstances allowed.
“Yes… what‽” exclaimed Billy Jasper as he opened the door.
“Mpfff,” Hayley answered, that being all the tape across her lips permitted her to say. Billy took a confused step backward so she adroitly hopped into his house.
“What happened to you, Hayley?” Billy asked his neighbor. “Wait, I’ll get you loose. There should be some scissors somewhere… here we go.”
“Mpfff,” said Hayley, trying to suggest he untie the knots, but, as Billy couldn’t understand her, he cut the ropes instead. “Thank you!” she gasped as he peeled the tape from her face. “Might I have a drink of pop, Billy? All that effort made me awfully thirsty!”
“Yes, of course,” Billy agreed, opening his refrigerator. “But how did you get tied up?”
“Well, you see, I’ve been going door to door.” Hayley gulped from the can Billy offered her and then placed her sample case on his kitchen counter, briskly snapping it open. “Selling these wonderful figurines.” She held up a purple and orange penguin statuette. “Like Snow-Down here. Isn’t he cute?”
“Erm, I suppose,” Billy replied, hoping his acting training had masked his initial revolted reaction to the hideous figurine in her hand.
“I was showing them to a neighbor when she suddenly turned very mean and tied me up, just like that, for no reason at all!”
“Well, that’s terrible!” exclaimed Billy. “I’m calling the police!”
“Oh, please don’t!” Hayley opened her innocent eyes wide open in alarm. “You see, the city requires you to have a Peddlers License, only I forgot to get one, so I’ll get in trouble if the police get involved. That’s probably why that cow tied me up, because she knew she could get away with it!”
“Who did?” asked Billy.
“I don’t like to say,” said Hayley. “Could I have a Kleenex? Thank you!” She blew her nose. “It’s been a horrible day, really it has been. I just want to brighten people’s lives with these, but they keep slamming their doors in my faces, usually after saying some very rude words that I can’t repeat. So I haven’t made a single sale yet! And then I got tied up! I wish this day would get better!”
“It’s just about to,” Billy replied. “I kinda like Snow-Down, so I’ve decided to buy him.”
Hayley cheered up instantly. “Oh, Billy, you are so sweet!”
“He’ll look great in my spare bedroom.”
Hayley clapped her hands in delight. “Yes, he certainly will!”
“So, how much for the little fellow?” Billy asked, reaching for his wallet. “What, like a couple dollars?”
“Oh, Billy, don’t be silly!” Hayley exclaimed. “You can’t buy just Snow-Down. He’s part of a complete set that includes Honey-Tummy the Bear and Velvet-Paws the Cat and this, um, turtle, I guess he’s supposed to be, I forget his name, and all the rest of their animal friends. You’ll need a place to store them all, so you’ll want the oak display case for them as well, so that comes to six-hundred and seventy-two dollars and ninety-six cents, including postage and handling and sales tax. I take Visa, MasterCard, and Discover, but not American Express.”
“Hey, now wait a minute…” Billy began.
“You mean you don’t want them after all? Oh, I knew it was too good to be true! When I was outside all tied up with no one doing anything to help me, I thought, ‘Billy’s really nice; he’s different!’ Yes, that’s what I thought, that’s why I chose your house, Billy, out of all of them on the block. It wasn’t easy, believe me, with all those ropes making movement almost impossible, but I kept going, rather than lying down and giving up, because I believed in you, but now I see you’re as bad as the rest. You want to tie me up to get rid of me, don’t you? Why don’t you just go ahead and get it over with?” Haley screwed her eyes shut and stuck her hands behind her back.
“No, it’s not like that, Hayley.”
“Yes, it is, you want to tie me up like everyone else!”
“No, Hayley, I really like those cute animals, but it sounds like an awful lot of money.”
“Oh, no, it’s not, not really.” Hayley opened her eyes and turned around. “You see, normally the complete set costs close to fifteen hundred dollars, but because they’re running this special promotional offer, you’re getting it at better than half price! Think of the money you’re saving! So, if you’d loosen that grip on your credit card… come on, Billy, I can’t process your order without it. Thank you! You can expect your delivery along with its certificate of authenticity in six to eight weeks. What’s your house number again?”
“Mpfff,” said Hayley. She shook her head and tried speaking again, but realizing the effect wasn’t quite right, tore off another strip of tape and added it to the ones already over her mouth. “Mpfff,” she said again, finally satisfied.
What a waste! I don’t know why Billy had to cut those ropes. Now they’re ruined and I need new ones! She opened a kitchen drawer and pulled out a package of clothesline from the many lying within. I hope my next customer is more considerate. These things cost money and I want to reuse them as much as I can!
She circled the line several times around her legs, cinching and knotting, before moving to the more difficult task of tying her hands behind her back. She had practiced it often, though, so it did not give her too much trouble. She reached for her sample case and awkwardly hopped out the door.
Right, time to make another sale!