The Day the Storefront Let Jen Bledsoe In
954 words long
In which the pick-up artist gurus are wrong all over again.
Notes from the author:
There�s been a lot of talk lately in literary circles about �message fiction�: what counts as message fiction, whether any fiction can meaningfully be said not to be message fiction, whether message fiction ought to win awards... Well, this piece here is message fiction, OK?
The writing prompts �intellectual freedom� and �man of courage� put me in mind of people who proclaim themselves Proudly Politically Incorrect. With the random phrase �retreating outfit,� I imagined someone mouthing off on the sidewalk while the nearest building, a storefront, backed slowly and cautiously away. From there to the cultural aftermath of a fictional Great Awakening was only a couple of very short steps.
The day that the storefront on Almond Street opened up to Jen Bledsoe was a big day, but a quiet one. No one was around to see it happen except Bledsoe herself and one Randall Mack who just happened to be walking by. Mack often �just happened� to be walking by, on his way to the post office or the grocery store or just taking his morning constitutional, but mainly for another opportunity to sneer at Bledsoe.
Bledsoe was sitting on the storefront�s stoop that day, just like she was most days since she�d decided to court that building. When Mack passed by, he could hear her singing. She didn�t have the best of singing voices, but the storefront didn�t seem to care. It liked her. Not that Awakened buildings could say so, not in words, but they held opinions and they knew how to make them known. Anyone could see that this one held a good opinion of Bledsoe. Anyone could see how its windows brightened when she came around.
Randall Mack was a man unlikely to successfully woo a storefront. Not everyone had it in them. It took a gentle hand and a nuanced mind and an understanding of why certain words had fallen in disfavor. At least, insofar as they referenced buildings. Mack had no time for gentleness or nuance. He was proud of it. �Just say �property,� all right? Jeez. Can�t stand all this mincing political correctness. The store�s your business; the storefront�s your property. Deal with it.�
�But Randy,� you might say (if you didn�t know better), �it�s not property, because the storefront isn�t owned. Befriended, maybe, or partnered, but not--�
He�d cut you off right there. �Look, ask my house if you don�t believe me. It doesn�t care what you call it. No buildings give a damn except those oversensitive, perpetual victim types.�
Again, if you�d asked Mack�s house at that time, you wouldn�t get a spoken answer. But you�d easily get the idea. It was a smug, superior sort of house, as befitted the smug, superior Mack. When Mack wasn�t just happening to walk by the storefront on Almond Street, you could find him sneering from the comfort of the house�s porch with the house sneering right alongside. Its floorboards seemed slightly warped from the effort of its sneering.
Mainly what they liked to sneer about was Jen Bledsoe....
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for April 15, 2016. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1,039 words) from Patreon in PDF or MP3 format depending on their pledge tier.
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