"Oh, yeah," said Charlie. "You know how they cut off part of the bumper and stuck it behind the driver's seat?"
"Yessssss," I said hesitantly.
"Well, you could totally fit a gun in that," he said. "And it's pretty much impossible to get that thing out of there, so you might as well use it. I'll throw in a couple of bungee cords and voila! Gun rack!"
I just stared at him for a moment. I discarded several responses, settled for, "Well, okay, then. Cool." And walked away slowly.
Eventually, one of the phone calls turned into an actual person who showed up to inspect the truck. Charlie in action was the anti-salesman, gleefully pointing out all the unsafe, undesirable, and unneeded attributes of the truck. It was like reverse psychology in action -- the more he downplayed the truck, the more the potential taker's eyes lit. You could almost see the neon sign above his head blinking "Project! Project!" or perhaps "Parts! Parts!"
The truck was happily driven away by an obviously content young man after Mom came by to sign over the title. We stood and watched it go somewhat wistfully.
"It would have been nice to have a truck in the family that everyone could use," said Mom.
"Yeah, I know," I said, giving her a hug.
"Was Charlie sure he couldn't ..." her voice trailed off.
"Mom, Charlie said he could buy a much better truck for half of what it would cost to fix this one," I said gently.
She sighed. "I guess you're right." She still looked a bit downcast, though.
"Well, hey," I told her, "you accomplished what you wanted, right?"
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Well, your whole point was to give your friends some money. And in return, you got a free truck. It's not like you were really buying the truck. You were helping some friends, right? And you did that. So you got what you wanted out of it. The truck was just kind of a bonus."
She brightened a bit. "Yes, yes, that's true," she mused.
"And think of how much fun that kid will have fixing it up," I said. "You've probably helped him too! And Charlie's ad for the truck made a lot of people laugh when they saw it, so you've made a bunch of people's day in addition to helping your friends."
"Not bad for a day's work for your old Mom, huh?" she said, a smile beginning to play around her mouth.
"Not bad at all, Mom," I reassured her. "Not bad at all."
I suddenly thought of something. "Hey, Mom?"
"Do I dare ask how much you paid for the truck?"
"No," she said crisply, "you don't."
We looked at each other and started laughing. And that was the end of Mom's Free truck.