The wind is blowing, driving the alkali dust through a town built of board and dust in the midst of the badlands. The wind is always blowing at 1-800-Translateville. Gavin, sales manager in flat crowned hat and dusty frock coat, leans back in his chair on the planked porch, legs propped up on the horse rail, cigarillo clamped between his teeth. He is waiting, squinting into the sun.
He looks to the sound of jangling spurs, as the operations lead approaches in chaps and bowler, buffalo gun under one arm.
“Calamity, where’s Translation Guy? We had a meeting?”
“Shit! How in the Lord’s creation am I supposed to know?”
“He’s been at the reposada again?” Gavin squints at him.
“Damn sight worse than that. Two cups of coffee this morning.”
Silence. Gavin glances down at his boot. “There’s red paint all over the sole of my boot, Calamity.”
“No shit, Gavin. You told us to paint the town red, and that’s what we’ve done. You said it would be good for sales.”
“And that would include this chair I’m sitting in? No ‘wet paint’ signs?”
“No shit!” scoffs Calamity. “Any fool can see there are no signs anywhere around here.”
“Sure as shit it would. I reckon you’ll get a good price for your britches now that they’re all red.
Gavin starts to curl a lip when gun shots are heard in the distance. They both squint into the sun.
“Speak of the Devil,” says Calamity, spitting towards the cuspidor.
Galloping up in a cloud of dust, sombrero bouncing on his back, Translation Guy approaches yelling “Ariba! Ariba!”
Reins held between his gold teeth, he pulls up and starts reloading from his crossed bandoleros.
Gavin squints at him through the dust. “What are you so fired up about?”
“Haven’t you been listening?!” Translation Guy shouts, “It’s Ariba, that site where they make you answer their RFPs. I’m riding after that web page to get even for them wasting all my time! Calamity, get me some coffins.”
Calamity rolls her eyes. “Why don’t you get ’em first, boss. I’ll get the coffins once you start to drag ’em in.”
Gavin takes the cigarillo out of his mouth. “You’ve been answering RFPs again, haven’t you? What have I told you about that?”
“Well, they said it was for a million dollars of business! And they said it wasn’t about the price. They said they were looking for quality.
Gavin peels himself off the back of his freshly painted chair. Silently for once, Calamity hands him her ramrod, and Gavin begins to draw figures in the dust.
“Figures? Figures? I don’t do no stinkin’ figures!” Translation Guy snaps the cylinders of his revolvers closed, set to kick his lathered horse away, a head of steam building in his face like the 4:15 out of Deadwood.
“That’s right, Translation Guy. I do the numbers, and you listen. Put on your glasses so you can see this from horseback.”
Translation Guy pauses. “Oh, yeah, right. It’s in the business, plan. I remember now.” He holsters his pistols and pulls a pair of dirty spectacles from their case. Gavin taps at the final figure traced in the dried manure with his ramrod. “No way are they doing a million dollars. They just told you a million dollars so they could have more suckers answer their RFP.”
Translation Guy looks down at the tiny number scrawled in the dust, realization slowly dawning. “Well there sure were a lot of bidders. It was like buzzards squawking over a dead sheep. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much.” Translation Guy’s eyes glisten at the memory. “The price kept getting lower and lower. It was better than eBay, ese!”
“That’s because it was a reverse auction. Each time you bid lower, you were losing money, not making it.” As realization dawns, Translation Guy’s face begins to contort with rage. “That means I bid under cost! I’m going to get those bastards at…” He freezes when he hears the double click as Calamity pulls back on the hammer of her gun. Hands held out from his sides, he slowly turns his head towards her. She is standing with a hand mirror in her left hand and her Sharps over her shoulder, pointed straight at Translation Guy’s dirty neck.
“Don’t you dare trash a prospect by name on this blog, Translation Guy, or I will blow you from here straight to Hades.” The muzzle of the gun remains perfectly aligned on a fly slowly crawling across Translation Guy’s neck. “Sure as shit, it is not in conformance with the values expressed in our Mission Statement.”
Gavin, cigarillo also frozen in place, says, “She’s got a point, Translation Guy.”
To be continued…