FYI:

The title of this story is derived from both the obvious meaning of the phrase (to be 'on the up and up' is to be ethically scrupulous) and also the fact that car sales reps are said to refer to customers who walk onto the lot as 'ups'.


CHAPTER ONE

Jason was five minutes late getting to work. Again. He parked his truck and hurried inside. His boss, Matt Parker, was bent over a diagram.

"We like to start at eight-thirty around here, Jason." Matt stated raising his eyebrows as the errant employee entered. "This is the third time you've been late this month."

"Yeah, sorry about that." Jason ran a hand through his hair. "As I was about to leave, Jill puked on the living room rug." The word 'again' hung unspoken in the air between them.

"You are the only man I know who has an anorexic cat." Matt paused thoughtfully, "Actually you are the only man I know who has a cat period."

"Lots of dudes have cats." Jason said defensively. "And Jill isn't anorexic; she has a very delicate digestive system."

"So get her on the purple pill or lock her in the shower or something." Matt advised in a somewhat exasperated tone.

"You would make for a horrible pet owner." Jason muttered with a shake of his head.

Matt ignored this observation. "Did you hear the big news this weekend?" he inquired instead.

"You and Melissa are finally tying the knot?" Jason guessed hopefully. Matt had been with his girlfriend for five years now, but he seemed to have commitment issues. Thus far no ring had been forthcoming.

"As I've said previously; we aren't ready for that step yet." He tossed the morning paper down in front of Jason.

"Local Minister Arrested After Approaching Teenaged Girl"? Jason read the headline aloud. "What?"

"Keep reading," Matt encouraged, "It isn't quite what it sounds like."

Jason continued to peruse the article. 'Reverend Donald Lang was arrested June 12th after parents complained that he had been attempting to proselytize their teenaged daughter without their knowledge or consent. The police department was not available for comment at this time, but an arraignment has been set for June 21st… Jason looked up, "That's next Monday."

"Sure is." Matt nodded.

"Not wasting any time, are they?" Jason muttered, "Probably don't want to give his lawyer time to come up with a good defense."

"Well, that's for him to worry about." Matt said. "We need to plan our own strategy." He shoved Jason the diagram he'd been working on. "Now we were supposed to be getting in three new sports cars and a luxury sedan Thursday, but I've already called to change it to one luxury sedan, two minivans, and a economy car. No way I'd be able to sell sports cars to a bunch of religious nuts. They're all about responsibility, you know."

Jason blinked a time or two, and then raked a hand through his hair. Had he somehow missed a vital part of this conversation? "Um, Matt?" he began uncertainly, "I'm a little confused," He gestured between the newspaper and the drawing of the sales lot. "Is there a connection between these two?"

His boss sighed, "Jason, sometimes I wonder if you're really cut out to be a salesman." He picked up the newspaper. "This is going to go statewide if it hasn't already, and maybe even national. If there is one thing fundamental Christians can't stand having messed with, it's their right to free speech. Trust me; they will be coming in droves by Monday. If we're lucky they may even camp out all weekend to protest. Stake out the judge's house, hassle the girl's family-"

"Wait," Jason interrupted, "Okay, I can see how people may come to support this minister. I mean, I still don't see that he did anything wrong. When I was a kid, one of the local churches ran a bus ministry, and I was given religious materials every Sunday morning! They even gave me my own Bible. No one ever said a word! So, I certainly can see why people will come out to support Reverend Lang, but what's that got to do with us?"

Matt heaved another sigh. "Oh, Jason." From the tone of his voice, you would have thought he was in physical pain. "It's like this: There will most likely be a lot of people from out of town here this weekend, right?"

"Um, I suppose so." Jason halfheartedly agreed.

"And this dealership is on the way to the jail if you are getting off the highway, right?"

"I guess so, I've never really thought about it before."

"Then all these people will pass right by us on their way to go protest, right?"

Jason wasn't sure he liked where this was going. "Yeah."

"So, obviously we need to do whatever we can to draw the attention of these people to our cars and why they need one, right?"

"Now, Matt, that just isn't acceptable!" Jason protested, "We can't be profiting from someone else's misfortune like that!"

Matt only laughed, "And that, Jason, is why I am the boss."