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Ding Dong! Avon Calling (a short story)
From the Archives
I realise that this story may seem a little antiquated. I don't think Avon still continues to do door to door sales. However I wrote this little story many years ago and at that time Avon door to door selling was alive and strong. Email didn't exist at the time either, we still wrote letters.
Actually, I had forgotten about this story until I was going through my archives (a box of my old writing and attempts at writing) and came across it. I showed it to my wife at the time but didn't consider it good enough to submit for publishing anywhere and I don't think the Internet even existed then, so I just filed it away. I don't like throwing anything away, especially my writing. No matter how good or bad a piece is it is a reminder of the times and feelings I was experiencing when I wrote it.
Anyway, i decided to dust it off and publish it here as a hub. I hope you enjoy "Ding Dong! Avon Calling."
Ding Dong! Avon Calling.
by John Hansen © 2014
Sarah opened the gate an strode confidently towards the door of the brick duplex at 192 Everett Avenue. She was starting to feel a little nervous though as she knocked loudly beneath a big brass "1". "Think positive," she whispered to herself as she waited for the door to be opened, however it remained firmly shut.
Looking around Sarah observed a small doorbell to her right. She sighed, and then pressed the button. A faint "ding dong! could be heard somewhere deep within the house. Within moments the door was opened by a somewhat dishevelled young woman while attempting to cover a yawn.
"Sorry if I woke you," Sarah apologised, suppressing the urge to say "Avon calling." "I'm Sarah Davis, the new Avon representative for the area and I'd just love to show you our latest exciting catalogue."
"No need to apologise, I had to get up anyway. Too many late nights, you know how it is?" the young woman replied with a smile. Seeing the case Sarah carried with the word "AVON" she opened the door, "Come on in."
Sarah entered and was led to the dining room where she sat down. "Nice place," she said automatically without even looking around then, without waiting for a reply, reached into her case and withdrew a catalogue. "This is the current catalogue for Week Five. It contains all of our most popular lines plus a few new items that I'm sure you will like," said Sarah passing the booklet across the table to her prospective customer.
"Thanks," the younger woman said, accepting the catalogue. She began to flick through it but suddenly remembered her manners and asked, "Oh, would you like a cup of tea or coffee?"
"Well, actually I have brought you some free samples," Sarah replied, removing a few sachets of perfume and shampoo from her case. "Oh, and this one is a herbal tea. Avon is expanding to include a range of vitamin and health products. We want customers to sample them and give us their feedback." She passed two sachets marked "forest fruit and herbal infusion' across.
"In fact you still look tired, why don't you let me make you a cuppa and you can tell me what you think," Sarah said taking the sachets back and standing up. "How do you have it, as is or with a little sugar or honey to sweeten?"
"Oh, a spoon teaspoon of honey would be fine," the young woman replied gratefully.
Sarah soon returned from the kitchen to find the other woman looking through the catalogue. She placed a cup of herbal tea in front of her on the mahogany table. "Here you go...um...sorry, I didn't catch your name?"
"It's Beth, Beth Stewart. Pleased to meet you."
As Sarah watched Beth sip her tea she thought back to Monday morning. The wheelie bin had been knocked over during the night (probably by a dog or some young troublemaker). Sarah was carefully replacing the contents when she came across a crumpled envelope. What caught her eye was a small red heart sticker in the corner. On unfolding it she saw that it was addressed to 'Mr R Davis', and on the back 'Sender: Ms. B. Stewart, 1/92 Everett Ave.'
Sarah and Roger had been married for seventeen years and she considered their marriage a happy one, despite the fact that they couldn't have children. The discovery of this letter, well envelope, however worried Sarah. Maybe she as just jumping to conclusions.
She confronted Roger with the evidence hoping, no expecting, an explanation that would ease her mind. Instead she was surprised by his directness. "Ok, I'm having an affair Sarah! I hoped you wouldn't find out, but you have so there's no use denying it."
She searched his eyes for some kind of emotion, as tears dropped from her own, but was met by a cold, unfeeling stare. "How could you? Sarah sobbed. "I hate you..you bastard..get out!"
Roger had been ready to leave for work anyway. He packed an overnight bag and a few other items to take with him now and said he'd arrange to collect the rest of his stuff when he found a permanent place. His parting words didn't help either, "It's for the best Sarah. I haven't loved you for a long time and things would only get worse if we stayed together. Goodbye."
It was as if he was making it all out to be her fault somehow. Well, she knew whose fault it was!
Sarah found the rat poison in the garage..the label said "Warning! contains Arsenic" She remembered the unopened box of herbal tea in the pantry. She'd received it as a present a few months back but hadn't opened it. Now was the perfect opportunity!
Being an Avon representative was an easy way to get your foot in a stranger's door. Sarah packed all her goodies (including two tea sachets) into her kit, climbed into her red Toyota Camry and headed for the address on Roger's letter.
Beth finished her tea, "Hmm, not bad. I wasn't sure if I liked iit at first, but the taste grows on you."
"I'm glad you like it," said Sarah smirking. "You might say it's compliments of Roger Davis." How could Roger have the hide to make love to this girl? She was young enough to be his daughter. Sarah didn't blame him though; men were weak. It was this temptress's fault for seducing him.
Beth looked puzzled, "Roger who?"she questioned, beginning to feel slightly ill from the poisoned tea, "Oh, that's Barbara's new boyfrind's name. I..um..don't understand."
"Who's Barbara!" shouted Sarah, confused.
Suddenly the front door opened and in stepped another young woman dressed in jogging gear, her tee shirt soaked with sweat. "Hi, I'm home Beth," she called from the hallway, "What's for brekkie?'
"This..is..m..my sister Barbara, we..um..flat together," Beth stammered, "uh..excuse me, I'm not feeling..well." She staggered to the bathroom holding her stomach.
Sarah stared in shock at the newcomer. Her heart sank. She's made a terrible mistake. Without a word she tossed everything back into her Avon case and rushed out the door. The sound of Beth's retching filled her ears.
Sarah sat motionless and alone in her living room. She seemed to be staring at her wedding photo on the wall, though her eyes saw nothing. An empty teapot and cup stood on the coffee table along with a small tin labelled with a red triangle showing a scull and the word "POISON!"
"Symptoms of arsenic poisoning begin with headaches, confusion, severe diarrhea, and drowsiness. As the poisoning develops, convulsions and changes in fingernail pigmentation called leukonychia striata may occur. Arsenic is related to heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases and diabetes." (source: wikipedia)
© 2014 John Hansen