Lifetime Drive

Lifetime Drive

After the background check, ethics compliance contract, dinner break at Burger King, and the third-party witness form are approved three hours later, the weary customer grabs the pen.

“So, once I sign, it’s a lifetime drive? Like, you go anywhere with me, even with family?”

“Correct, sir,” the dealer says. With his ironed polo, broad glasses, and wavy moussed hair, he’s a freshly drawn cartoon character.

“And you just, live in my vehicle?” The customer flips the pen around in his fingers. “It’s nuts how I came here for just a test drive and now—”

“I’m ready when you are,” the dealer says.

Someone emits a bubbly fart. Three seconds long. A possible shart.

The dealer’s name is Deron Givings, 24 years old. A community college dropout, he claims he can finish his degree at any time, but he’s since studied to be a used car dealer. Not just any shyster, though. He made it his life’s goal to obtain the Ultimate Customer Satisfaction rating by J.D. Power. The flatulence lingers and the men sniff, then cough. They’ve known each other long enough and the stakes are too high.

The dealership is otherwise empty, but the owner knows this signing requires the utmost focus. The plushiest seats were moved from the accounting office as they ate dinner. The fluorescents flicker over their spacious cubby. The designated third-party inspector is still there, too. Just some dude from the DMV. He’s asleep off to the side and snores like sawing wood. Enough to warrant a doctor’s visit. Food waste and a clipboard are by his feet.

“Okay. Well, uh, here I go.” The customer stabs the pen into the copy paper and makes an inky dent. “I’m going to sign this very extensive and comprehensive document. Right now, at 8:18 P.M. Are you watching?”

Deron leans in to watch. Nose, jaw, neck. He watches every looping swirl, every jagged slash. The customer’s name is eight syllables long and he does his best to make every letter legible. After the bulk of his name is written, he goes back to cross the T’s, and dot the I’s. A long sigh shoots out of the customer’s nose. The pen falls from his cramped hand.

“We. Are. Done.”

Deron shoves his wheeled leather chair back, crouches, and leaps into the air. He has an unnatural hangtime. He shoots his arm high over his head. It almost looks like he will punch the drop ceiling. Oh, wow, a few inches away! Truly, he is from a cartoon. The customer flinches at the display of acrobatics. He puts his hand over his heart in a dramatic fashion.

The inspector is shocked awake and kicks the clipboard and trash asunder. “By gawd!”

Deron’s voice squeaks like he is experiencing mozzarella sticks, Hot Wheels, and boobs for the first time and all at once. “After three years, this is really happening! Is…is this a new record?”

“Beats me,” the customer says. His hand still rests over his thumping heart.

Deron cocks his hips and swings a key fob with an inventory tag on his finger. His other hand is on his waist. “One freshly detailed, Dealer’s Select. Chev-row-lay Su-burb-an LTD. It’s like the Batmobile! Can’t wait to tell my dad about this.”

“Why don’t we wrap this momentous occasion up, lad?” the inspector chimes in.

“Ah, yes! I still need to pack my bug-out bag. Onesie, craft beer bottles, first aid kit, iPod. Hope you have towels, sir.”

“Wow-wee…can figure that out,” the customer groans.

Deron nods fast like a woodpecker. His oversized suit whooshes as he vanishes into the back offices. The inspector, however, whistles a tune as he cleans up after them all. It’s more a siren’s song than a Billboard Top 100 track. The popping of knees ensues as he stands erect again.

“He’s so energetic, that Deron,” the customer says to the inspector.

“This is my second career lifetime drive inspection, pal,” the inspector says.

The customer rises and shakes the inspector’s hand. “Oh yeah? What about your first?”

“These lifetime drives are a paternal tradition. His father’s corpse is still in the back I bet.”

The customer’s mouth goes slack, and his hand goes limp. “Wait, clause 32(a) was wrong about bodily remains?”

The inspector makes a gnarly guffaw and pats the customer on the back. He tosses the trash out and heads for the exit. “Relax. His girlfriend’s expecting a boy soon.”

“Damn, guess I’m daddy now.”

“Get used to it.”


About the Author

Josh Dale is a native Pennsylvanian and the author of the novella, The Light to Never Be Snuffed (Alien Buddha Press, 2022,) and the forthcoming, metal-themed chapbook, Behold, Infinite Fire from Frequent & Vigorous Chapbooks. Introduce indie lit to your cat/dog. Say hi at


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio: