Tired from a long day selling door to door in Atlantis, Frederick Westmoreland paddled the plain canoe downriver from the seaport elevator to his house, buried in the cliffside. Anchoring it to the dock, Frederick unlocked his door and sat his canvas briefcase in the foyer. Only wanting to relax, he propped up his feet on the Ottoman, clicked on the TV, and immediately he heard the doorbell ring. When he opened up, a bulky looking man with a bulkier briefcase that weighed down one shoulder greeted him.
“Good afternoon, sir. I noticed your canoe. My name is Phillip Flintlock. Do you work down in the city?”
Frederick stared out behind the doorguest’s shoulder. “Yeah, down in Atlantis, I’m a jam salesman. Only the finest from the garden of Mrs. Mirevka.”
“That’s the longest commute this side of globe, and I think I can help.” Opening up the behemoth briefcase, Flintlock pulled out a catalog, colorful and glossy. “You have a fine canoe out there, but it’s old and slow. You’ll sweat away all the water in your body lugging that thing home. How about this motorboat?.” Out he pulled a heavy square, dusted it off. “Comes with a money-back guarantee. If you don’t get to work faster, full refund. You have nothing to lose, so why not?”
Frederick stared at the red-cavas-covered cube. “I suppose it would hurt. I’ll write you a check.”
“Very good sir. I’ll return tomorrow to see if there’s anything else I can do for you.”
The next day, Frederick carried the cube outside and pulled the bow on top. The only instructions on the box read: “open at dock.” Unleashed at the water’s edge was a motor boat fit for a Whitesnake video. Revving up the engine, Frederick grinned in glee. Something shiny, new, unexpected. And he could fit a lot more jam in the rumrunning speedboat than in his canoe. He started it up, and water rushed all around him and pebbles flew everywhere, breaking some windows. But he began down the river. The first part of his trip into work was truly uncomfortable. He bounced off the waves in the valley and his wake shoved aside all the other commuters in canoes. And even ran over his neighbor, Mr. Wong, although he wasn’t seriously hurt. His day at work: jam was sold, toast was covered, but he noticed people looked at him with some disdain. But he sold more jam because he got to work faster and could work later because he knew he would get home sooner. After hearing many complaints about his speedboat, he knew it wasn’t quite right for him.
Arriving at home, putting his feet on the Ottoman, Frederick heard a knock at the door. Phillip Flintlock was waiting, smiling. “Hello again Mr. Westmoreland. How do you like your new motorboat?”
“I have to tell you, it’s been a lot of trouble. People have been giving me dirty looks, I ran over my neighbor. You’ve gotta give me that refund.”
“Ok, ok sir. But you liked getting where you’re going faster, right?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“I have something else for you, something less gruff than the motorboat.” Flintlock pulled a cerulean canvas-covered cube, also heavy. “This is a jet pack, you just hover over the water, and it’s fairly easy to control, and you won’t hit anyone on your way to work because you’ll be above them.”
“Sounds nice. Alright, I’ll try it.”
The next day, Frederick pulled the bow on top of the cube and a chromed jet pack propped itself up. The instructions were simple: “tug each arm in the direction you want to go.” Strapping it on and firing it up, he lifted into the air, relishing the rush against his face. He flew down the valley, the sound of the jets shaking the walls of the canyon around him, making those below him cover their ears, some even bled from the ears. But, he eventually reached the docks at Atlantis even earlier than yesterday. During the day he saw some fellow commuters walking about dazed and disoriented. His heart sunk and knew he had to return this too, even though he got to the market earlier and could stay even later.
Flintlock once again came to the door to check on Frederick. “Mr. Westmoreland have I got something else for you—“
“Gotta give me a refund. I basically blew the top off the river.”
“Yes, the jetpack isn’t the most practical, but I think I have something else. A nuclear submarine can go beneath anyone and was made to be silent.”
The instructions on the side were direct: “open in water and choose destination when ready.” The next day, Frederick pulled the bow off the top of the black-canvas cube. Unfurled was a massive cold-war era nuclear submarine, weighing several hundred tons and obliterating his quaint canoe in the process. Frederick climbed in and touched his finger to Atlantis on the digital map. The vessel lurched forward, cracked along the river basin walls. The fish in the river were crushed and rose to the top gruesomely, greatly upsetting anyone in the water. He got to work even faster than the previous 2 days, because it’s a nuclear submarine. But knew this was the last straw. He had to return the final contraption.
Once more, Flintlock came to the door. Before he could even say hello, Frederick interrupted, “Gotta give me my check back.”
“But why, sir?”
“I’ve ran over my neighbor, popped everyone on the highway’s eardrums, weakened the support structure of the valley, and killed all the fish in it.”
“But didn’t it get you to work faster?”
“Yes, but look at all the problems I’ve caused.”
Flintlock readjusted his briefcase. “I’m sorry Mr. Westmoreland, it got you to work faster, you’re stuck with the submarine. That was the guarantee.”
Frederick rolled his shoulders. “What am I supposed to do with that thing?”
“That’s up to you, sir. Just don’t sell it to a 3rd world dictator, that tends to cause legal problems.”