Bob Buys a Vacuum

Submitted into Contest #45 in response to: Write a story about change.... view prompt





Bob Buys a Vacuum



Mid-afternoon Sunday disappeared from consciousness as Bob stared transfixed at the riotous images pulsating from his television set. “Why would you even break a pet store window?” he marveled as his stomach, the brains of the operation, reached down and shoved a handful of potato chips into his mouth.

Bob had only reached the very top layer of vicarious satisfaction when the unthinkable happened, the horrifying and ghastly, as the ugly finger of fate reached out and buzzed his front door.

Nervous, but still quick of thought, Bob possumed-up and displayed his full mental arsenal by trying to play dead.

 “Twenty-two years of marriage, Bob, you’re really not fooling anyone,” Deborah, his wife, said from over the top of him as the front bell rang aggressively and repeatedly.

“Honey,” Bob squeaked with his face still buried in the cushion. “Do you think that you can answer that?”

“Bob,” Deborah said to herself with a smile as she headed towards the door. “I go off and marry Bob Wilson.”

With the sanctuary of his lazy day on the line, Bob cautiously peeked up from his hiding place in the chair with the hopes that he would not be disturbed, intruded upon or worse, be forced to entertain.

“Well, yes, I guess you can come in,” he heard Deborah say apprehensively from the front door and Bob knew that the jig was up.

“Aww, who in the Hell is this, now” Bob grumbled as he thrashed his chunky frame into a sitting position.

“Not, who in the Hell, Bob, but fresh from Hell,” a large, red tinted man with curved horns and wearing a black and silver suit replied as he pulled a shiny new vacuum into the living room. “With a deal of a lifetime!” the man declared while breaking into his confident business smile and hand displaying his glimmering, can shaped companion.

“Oh,” Bob was somehow both over-taxed and underwhelmed at the same time. “So, you mean, the Devil sells vacuums?”

“Please Bob, away from the office it’s just Lucifer,” the Devil soothed and pursed his lips as he tightened his tie. “And no, Bob, what I sell is what I have always sold, which is fresh beginnings and hope. Hope for mankind, hope for freedom and, of course, hope for a better tomorrow,” Lucifer said and Bob stared down at the vacuum with confusion.

“It’s allegorical, Bob,” the Devil stated plainly.

“Yes, yes, I see that now,” Bob replied while stroking his chin and nodding his head knowingly.

“That means symbolic Bob.”


“Excuse me, excuse me, Mr. Lucifer, sir,” Deborah squeaked as she slowly crept up to stand next to her husband. “Why would the Devil sell Hope?”

Lucifer turned a smug glance at Bob and rolled his eyes before returning to Deborah. “It is because hope is the bridge between two very different existences, Deborah,” he said speaking very slowly and deliberately.  “The constitution to act or submit to it is your choice and therefore, the starting point for free will. Luckily and as ying and yang would have it, there is a lot of devilry in hope as well.”

“Loop-hole!” Bob shouted out suddenly and clap/pointed at Lucifer. “Loop-hole, right, that’s how you get us?”

“It’s all in the details, Bob,” the Devil said slyly while adjusting his cuff links and taking a step backwards to be next to his sporty vacuum cleaner. “Ladies and Gentleman, Bob and Deborah,” Lucifer started the demonstration with the spirit of his hands. “It is my greatest honor to introduce to you, kind and simple folk, Little Boy, the problem-solving machine!” The devil said with a dance move and a ta-da, but received little reaction from his audience.

“I thought you said it was a vacuum cleaner?” Bob’s bewilderment was palpable.

“Top of the line, Bob.” Lucifer adjusted both his tie and his pitch, “and brought to you from the oldest company in these great states, so you know that it’s a brand that you can trust.”

“Makes sense,” Bob confirmed, impressed by longevity.

 “Now, I say problem-solving, my good sir, because I see a man’s house as a microcosm of the very world in which he lives,” the Devil said and lifted both his head and arms upward. “This, this is Bob’s country.”

“Uhm, you mean, Bob and Deborah’s country,” Deb interjected. “Yay me.”

“Yes---Bob’s country,” Lucifer insisted and Deb sat down on the armchair with a hmmph. “Now, of course, every country starts and ends with the land,” he said and shifted their attention to the floor. “Just think of all the toil you’ve put into this land, Bob. Covering up all of that ugly, natural wood and turning it into your ideal carpeted paradise. The control it takes to protect that carpeting and not to mention that add-on, Bob, which, I noticed, may infringe on your neighbor’s estate a bit?” Lucifer said with respect and Bob chuckled to himself.

“Bob!” Deborah yelled and slapped her husband in the arm.

“Well, they should have a better understanding of their own property line,” Bob justified, causing a joyful tear to run down and sizzle on the Devil’s cheek.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Wilson, having your own country comes with problems,” Lucifer said as crumbs and dirt poured from his wiggling fingers and landed on the floor. “Sadly, these problems, they mount up and they mount up, until boom, it barely looks like your carpeting anymore,” the man said with sorrow in his voice.

“Stupid problems,” Bob muttered angrily.

“Yep, yes siree, it is ugly my friend,” the Devil commiserated as he reached down and patted his trustee vacuum cleaner. “Luckily for us, Bob, Little boy has the solution,” he said and flipped the ON switch.

As Hail to the Chief blared triumphantly from it’s built in speakers, two lit sparklers raised out of Little boy’s top and its canister began to spin with hypnotic affect; drawing Bob to the edge of his seat. With a fizzle, the sparklers came to their end and Little Boy, quite unexpectantly, bellowed out a giant gush of air, pushing Deborah’s hair back in its movement.

“Wowww!” Bob’s brains floated in fragmented suspension outside of his skull, returning to his head only as he stood to applaud.

“Problem solved,” the Devil swaggered and wiped his sleeves clean.

“Well, I don’t know,” Deborah said doubtfully as she looked around the room. “It seems like you just pushed everything to the far walls,” she complained.

“There’s always a Deborah,” the Devil scoffed while looking around himself in exhaustion. “I don’t know what she’s looking at Bob, but this carpet looks pretty clean to me,” the man said and directed all attention to the area around himself and the vacuum.

As Bob appreciated the look of his newly cleaned carpet, the sound of crickets chirping filled the room and when he looked up through the dust particles and sparkler smoke, he saw that the t.v. image had changed from civil unrest and rightful sedition into a calming mountain scene with butterflies and sunshine.

“Everything is just so peaceful,” Bob sighed as he subconsciously reached for his wallet.

















June 11, 2020 18:46

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נιмму 🤎
03:53 Jul 10, 2020

interesting take on the prompt! I like how you mention symbolism, also ;)


13:30 Jul 10, 2020

Thank-you very much for your time and comment! It means a lot more coming from a fellow artist.


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Jonathan Blaauw
12:59 Aug 12, 2020

I chose to read this one out of your collection purely based on the title, and I’m so glad I did. It’s just as amusing as the name suggests. I think the poor devil gets used to death in stories, so if one brings him in it needs to be in a unique way. Like as a vacuum cleaner salesman! Really clever. As are the paralells between Satan and the average sales guy who’ll say anything to get you to bite. I used to work in sales so I know – salesman, lawyers and the devil. All the same thing, pretty much. But instead of going for an all-out comi...


13:25 Aug 12, 2020

Wow, you are a concise and observant reader! Thank-you, I had little hope of anybody really reading this, much less getting it. I hope that doesn't sound pompous, it's just that big picture style of writing isn't very popular anymore. If it helps to tie things together, moreso, Lil' Boy was the name of the A-bomb that we dropped onto Hiroshima. Thanks again for reading this, it really made my day!


Jonathan Blaauw
04:08 Aug 14, 2020

I get exactly what you mean, but it's very important to keep writing what you want to write, not what is popular. Be careful when catering to the masses, sometimes the 'm' is silent. This is where your strengths are, so keep at it. I see it like this - if no one gets my writing, their loss. And when this is your attitude, a surprising number of readers will actually get you. As you've shown in this story.


13:49 Aug 14, 2020

I'm conflicted with this statement. Whereas, I fully agree with the sentiment, the forty year old me sitting on about a thousand rejection letters hesitates. I did get one of my two books published, but its lack of popularity has destroyed any chance for the second one. Now, because of it, publishers know that they will never make any money off me and don't even bother to read my submissions. I have always written by the guidelines of my passion, but it gets very, very frustrating and disheartening to keep writing without feedback or exposur...


Jonathan Blaauw
08:02 Aug 15, 2020

I get what you mean, and I know it can be disheartening. But, there are positives. You have one book published – that’s one more than 99.99% of aspiring writers will ever have! That alone is incredible. And even if you can’t build on it due to a lack of relative success, nothing can take away the fact that you have achieved the holy grail of writing – publication. Also, the experience has been invaluable, I’m sure. And it’s not like you’re at the end of the road. You’re still young. Writers peak in their 50’s and 60’s. You could try a pen n...


15:04 Aug 15, 2020

Thanks man, the fact that you care enough to give a shit means a lot to me. The last post was some sort of self-pity belching, not untrue, but not my usual m.o. The fact is that I can't stop writing, it's everything in the world to me, I just need a break from trying to break into the industry. Reedsy helps much in that regard. It's pure and without the complication of submitting, waiting to be rejected or trying to come up with a marketing scheme. Publishers, now a days, are just useless middle-men, parasites sucking the life out of art and...


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