04:14:20 pm on July 1, 2011 |
Friday Flash Fiction
The New Job
“A new boutique opened up just beyond the stretch.” Alan Falak, my informer, adjusts his cuff link and then hands me a small yellow note.
I open it to see an address and wonder how much this job pays.
“This place is going to expand the definition of ‘The Ave Walk’. If the walk expands and more people think it’s worth it to walk an extra five blocks to spend their money; you know what would happen.” He smiles and signals for a taxi.
“It would mean more than just one shop for competition. You would have a whole five blocks of competitors given time. That five blocks would in turn expand even further. This seems like a valuable review.” I delicately place the note in my jacket pocket.
“Don’t push it, Sam. You’ll get paid respectably.” The cab rolls up and then Alan slides in, “Make it post for Monday and have it circulated well.” Closing the door he leaves me standing with a smile.
I haven’t had a bonus job for a while and despite my readership I only get paid a freelance salary. I need this as seed money to promote myself to a better paying position. I have the rankings as a reviewer to influence this boutique but I want to be the guy being paid to attend the runways, asked to interview the fashion houses, and get the first scoops on trends.
I am the guy who spends my own money to get the seat far out in the nose bleed sections of the runways, the guy who stalks the streets hoping to catch the chance at the interviews, and getting the second scoop on what’s next.
I need this.
The shop is down the road from the main strip a bit beyond the drycleaner, the pub, and the clothing repair shop. People pass by these five blocks for the after buying experience. It was smart to locate a boutique just beyond because the rent is probably lower and with the right advertising it wouldn’t be hard to convince a buyer to walk a few more blocks.
Smart; but only if the other shop owners didn’t feel they have the right to some exclusivity. Or just to justify the amount of money they spend to be where they are.
“Welcome to Sappho’s Rack. How can I help you?” She smiles.
“I am looking for a present.” It’s the first thing I ask at every boutique for a review.
“Is it for a girlfriend, mother or sister…” She smiles and takes a breath to continue but I open my mouth and she notices I am about to answer her questions so she waits.
“Yes, girlfriend.” I walk in further noticing the velvet cloth dressing rooms tied open to reveal vintage long mirrors. The mirrors had boarders of colored glass in the shapes of flowers and vines like an envelope of nature surrounding your features.
She hands me a glass of sparkling cider and asks, “What is she like? Bubbly, laid-back, starlet, soft, spunky, or rock n’ roll?” The woman adjusts her sleeves as if preparing to wrestle down whatever I am after. Cute. Well, kind of cute. I mean, nevermind.
“You carry all of that?” I look around at the racks.
“The shop mostly has the Sappho’s Sew You brand but we do carry other freelance designer’s attire throughout the store. We are a big supporter of the starving artist, fresh from the runway designers.”
I look at her straightened dark brown hair and those striking maple cream eyes. She sparkles with energy like most starting designers do, she must be the owner, as she takes great pride in her surroundings. She seems calm in it. A nice laid-back but bubbling with joy.
“Laid-back with a bit of bubbly.”
“What a great combination. This section over here has some great things; please let me know if you would like to peruse yourself or if I could make some selections for you?”
“I am not really sure what to get.” I take a sip of the cider and look over at her. Taking the cue she steps forward and pulls a couple of pieces.
“This one is very in season right now it’s a tailored pencil skirt with lace ruffles for added spice. Paired with this light cream top with crocheted lace bodice is simple, comfortable but stylish. Or if she is more of a comfortable pant kind of girl this ruched bottom gives a fitted look but the stretch fabric gives it that laid back feeling. Or if you are looking for accessories instead of clothing let me know.” She smiles displaying the clothing across her arms.
“I think I will start with something that doesn’t involve measurements.” I wink and then she places the garments back on the rack to lead me to the counter. Behind the counter is a shelving unit that she pulls an assortment of scarfs from.
“One size fits all with a gorgeous scarf. No need for a tape measure.” She winks back and I find myself almost speechless.
“Which one is your favorite?” I ask her as she places one at a time over her hand to show the fabric on her creamy skin. Her hand looks so soft.
“This brown and cream one has natural hues that match with many people and the fabric is soft so it is yummy to wear.” She picks it up and holds it out for me to feel.
“Yummy?” I start to laugh at her description as if she was talking about a delicate food. My hand reaches out instinctually to grab the fabric she is holding and I brush against her fingers.
“Yes, yummy. The food for one’s soul is anything that makes you feel handsome, comforted, or happy. The texture of this fabric mixed with its calm colors is yummy.” Her voice is confident and honest. The answer surprises me and her sweetness has my fingers lingering on the fabric lightly brushing against her hand and evaluating it in a whole new way. As I caress the soft fabric as my eyes caress her features and indeed the only thing I can think to say is, “Yummy.”
Smiling she waits noticing that my hands continue to play with the fabric and she knows as well as I do that I’ve been sold. And as I touch her skin once more she drops the scarf into my hands. A look of confusion crosses her face.
“I take this one.” Her face eases and the twinkle comes back into her eyes as I place the scarf back on the counter.
“She will love it.” She takes out some tissue paper and a small bag, “That will be thirty-five dollars, if anything happens to your scarf in the next thirty days please bring it back in and we will repair it or replace it.”
Sappho’s Sew You backs its brand integrity with a warranty on their products guaranteeing that their quality won’t fray. A longer warranty is listed on their clothing and of course has certain contingencies. She spots me looking at the sign on the counter.
“Yes, we provide free warranties on our entire product line. For anything that is a minor repair from normal wear and tear to guaranteeing that if there is a manufacture error it will be replaced or repaired if brought to our attention within ninety days. We also resell and buy gently used designer wear.” She takes the scarf that I offer to her and folds it neatly within the tissue paper then seals it with a sticker of their logo.
“Wonderful.” I try to act interested and look around to spot things that I can write about, “What is back there?”
“That is our back sewing room where all the repairs are done as well as some designers come in to work on their projects here from time to time which gives the customer the opportunity to meet the person who made their clothing.” She hands me back my change of a ten and a five she counted like a banker softly to herself saying thirty-five forty-five fifty. Then placing their business card and the scarf into the bag she continues, “I hope she likes it, when you come back let me know.”
“I will.” Unfortunately for you it will not be a raving review; though you certainly deserve one.
The tricky thing is finding the truth and exaggerating it. The sewing room in the back can be exaggerated to be too noisy of an atmosphere. The girl’s eagerness to help can be viewed as pushy sales instead of helpful and knowledgeable associate. The velvet dressing room can be viewed as a cheap way of making a space for trying on clothes and the vintage mirror can be distracting from the possible flaws in the clothing’s craftsmanship which is why they have a warranty. This warranty can trick you into believing that the product is well made but you wouldn’t need one if it was. Yes, I can see the truth stretched in just the right story.
Something keeps bringing my thoughts back to those lips as they coerced me into feeling soft scarfs.
And the way she said, “Yummy.”
I can still hear her voice in my head as I left, “Have a wonderful day.” And I keep replacing her words with, “Have a yummy day.”
I find myself walking into the nearest post office and pulling the business card from the bag. Tracing the letters with my eyes I smile at the clerk, “Please send this bag to this address.” I hand him the business card.
“Certainly. A gift?” He asks.
“Yes, a gift.” For a moment I feel a soft lightness in my heart until the realization weighs on me that I’ve been hired to damage the reputation of an innocent, beautiful woman.
What am I saying?
No woman is innocent.
But she certainly is beautiful.
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