Traveling Salesman

Traveling Salesmen hardly ever eat humans. 

People say I’m crazy for feeding them, but I’ve never been able to let a living thing go hungry. I have birdfeeders on my porch and a saltlick in the back yard for the deer and butterfly bush lining the walkway. I’m not the kind of lady who cares about animals more than people, either. I donate to the food bank every month, and at Halloween, my sister and I are the ones with the full-size candy bars. 

So, when there’s a Salesman passing through, I leave a bowl of soup on the back steps, or a Heineken still cold from the fridge. It’s always gone when I wake up the next morning. Every so often, a Salesman will leave something behind—a vacuum cleaner, a leather-bound bible, a Mary Kay eyeshadow palate. I know it’s anthropomorphizing, but I like to think they drop those things as a thank you. 

My sister’s always getting on my case about feeding them. She’ll see an empty bowl on my steps and go off at me, like, one of these days, those things are going to get a neighborhood kid and won’t you be sorry then. I try to tell her that the Salesmen haven’t attacked a kid in years, and when they did, it was over in Pleasant Point, which is all strip-malls. The Salesmen didn’t have enough space to roam there, not like in our little town with its forests and farms. And anyway, that kid didn’t even die. 

This morning, my sister saw the empty beer cans and full jars of milk in the backyard, and she had a fit. She said I couldn’t live here anymore, even though I do all the cooking and the cleaning for her and her husband, and she’d never remember to fill the bird feeders if I wasn’t there. She told me I need to grow up and get a job, that this wasn’t the nineteen fucking fifties, and she couldn’t take it anymore. So I gathered up my things, and I left. 

In some ways, I think I’m a lot like the Travelling Salesmen. We’re both trying to find a way to live in a land of megamalls and next-day delivery. We’re both trying to fit into a world that has no place for us to go. 

When I left my sister’s house, I made sure the back door was unlocked. They would come looking, I thought, when there was nothing out on the porch for them. Travelling Salesmen hardly ever eat humans. 

But sometimes they do.