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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Short Story: Ms. Calm, Cool, and Chic by Nancy Goldberg Levine


Ms. Calm, Cool and Chic
Nancy Goldberg Levine

Glenn Galloway looked up at the two mynah birds in the cage above the cash register at the True Blue Shoe Boutique. The birds liked to talk to the customers and make them laugh. Most of the time, Glenn worked next door as a customer service rep at the True Blue Shoe Company. On the weekends, he cleaned rooms at True Hospital in his hometown of True, Arizona. Today he was helping out with the shoe sales because a couple of people had called in sick.

“The president is a jerk!” Yenta burst out.

“Shut up, Yenta!” Lazar Wolf yelled back.

Glenn grinned to himself at the antics of the two crazy birds. The phone rang and Yenta answered “True Blue Shoe Company” without even picking up the phone. Glenn answered the phone for real and while he was talking, the cheerful bell by the front door rang. In walked the cutest woman he’d ever seen.

She was petite and feminine-looking with auburn hair and green eyes. Her red hair looked soft and straight, and fell to her shoulders. She looked up at the birds, while Glenn finished talking to the customer. He saw her picking boxes of shoes off the shelves. Not just one or two boxes either. By the time she went over to a chair to try them on, she’d ended up with a stack that was almost as tall as she was.

She started trying on shoes; rejecting them quickly and throwing them haphazardly back into their boxes. “Wait a minute!” Glenn said, walking over to her. “You can’t just throw the shoes back into the shoe boxes like that, y’know.” He grabbed the leather shoes with the black velvet flowers on them and put them into the box neatly and carefully. He might not be a perfectionist about some things, like his apartment, but he didn’t like to see shoe abuse.

“I’m sorry,” the woman said. “I’m trying to find the right shoes to wear to a wedding. I’m a bridesmaid. Again.”

Glenn felt instant empathy. For the last couple of years, his parents had expressed the hopes that he and his sister, Gigi, would settle down and find the right people. Gigi was now dating a production artist for the local paper, the True Chronicle. They had now decided to concentrate on their single son.

Glenn had no time to date. He worked at the shoe company five days a week. On the weekends, he did maintenance work cleaning the rooms at True Hospital. He did all this so that eventually, he could buy his own home. Like his cousin, Jay, back in Cincinnati, Glenn only took maybe one or two days off a year. If he had any free time on the weekends, he was usually going to a wedding of one of his friends.

“That’s weird,” Glenn said.

He saw an angry gleam in the woman’s green eyes. Uh oh. Open mouth. Insert foot. “So you think being a bridesmaid fifteen times is weird? Well, I’d like to see you try it, Mister.” She threw another pair of shoes, this time some silver sling backs, into their box. She’d literally thrown them, too.

“I don’t think I’d make a very good bridesmaid, but I have been an usher or best man twelve times. That’s why I said things were weird; we seem to have the same kind of luck.”

“Oh,” she said. She sighed as she rejected another pair of shoes, this time black patent leather high-heeled pumps. She was more gentle with the merchandise, Glenn noticed.

“The president is a jerk,” Yenta said again. Lazar Wolf had no comment until a few seconds later when he said, “My name is Galloway. Glenn Galloway.”

The woman looked at the bird, then at him. “Did you teach him how to say that, or is that his name?”

“Nope. It’s my name. He must have heard me say it and now it’s in his vocabulary,” Glenn said. “I sure didn’t teach it to him.”

“That’s sweet. Well, it’s nice to meet you, Glenn Galloway. Even though you did tell me to be neat with the shoes.”

“I like to be master of my domain,” Glenn said, stealing a line from a Seinfeld re-run. He also wanted to actually have a domain so he could be the master of it. That’s why he was saving to buy a home. “Maybe I can help you find the right shoe since I know a little bit about weddings.”

“What would you know about shoes, though? You’re a guy. Unless…” She glanced at him. “Don’t tell me. You’re gay?”

“No, I’m not,” Glenn said, tempted to add that he resembled her remark. “I want to help you because one, I work for the shoe company as a customer service rep and two, I know a lot about which shoes would be more comfortable since I’ve been best man and usher for many a maid of honor or bridesmaid and three, my cousin, Lorrie, is a shoe freak.”

“Oh,” the redhead said again. “I’m Chelsea Medina, shoe freak extraordinaire.”

Glenn extended his hand for her to shake, which she did. “What size do you wear?” he asked, picking up boxes and carrying them back to the shelves five at a time.

“Six narrow. It’s a hard size to find, I know.”

Glenn searched the shelves. He knew he could come across something for her. He looked at the neatly-stacked boxes and finally located three pair of shoes in a six narrow. He hadn’t even looked at the merchandise inside. Once he saw them on Chelsea’s feet, he’d remember which shoe was which and what their customers had said about each one.

She tried a shoe called “Sparkle” on her tiny feet. Glenn remembered that that particular shoe, with its sparkly finish and bow on the front, had gotten mostly four out of five star reviews. All of the women who gave a review found that this particular shoe was extremely comfortable.

“I like it!” Chelsea said, parading back and forth in front of a mirror that highlighted her dainty feet. She looked like a little girl playing dress-up. “Sold!” she said.

“Don’t you want to try on the other two pair?” Glenn asked, hoping she’d stay a little longer. The woman might have thrown shoes around, but she was starting to grow on him. She had the red hair and temper thing going on, and he felt an attraction unlike anything he’d ever felt before.

“No,” she said. “I like these, and I’m not going to try on any other shoes when I have the ones I want right here.”

“Okay,” Glenn said. “I just thought you’d like some variety. Maybe you want to get these in a second color, too?”

Chelsea cocked her head to one side as if considering her options. “What other colors does it come in?”

Glenn took the two rejected pair of shoes back to their shelf. He looked for six narrows in Sparkle in other colors. “I see navy blue…” he called out.

“No good,” Chelsea said. “The bridesmaid’s dresses are lilac.”

“Black or honey,” Glenn said, carrying one pair of black and one of honey in each hand.

“I’ll take the honey,” Chelsea said.

Once Glenn rang up her purchases, she walked out of the store with a smile on her face. She hadn’t even given him a chance to try and ask for a date. What’s the use? he thought. He’d never find anyone; he’d probably end up being fixed up by his mom and dad for the rest of his life.

“Such a nice boy,” he could hear one of his mom’s friends saying. “Wonderful personality…”


Another Saturday night in True, Arizona, Glenn thought. As a hometown, True wasn’t a bad place to live. It was just that he’d worked hard all morning at the hospital, and then this evening had to go to his friend’s wedding. He looked at himself in the mirror of the dressing room at the True Inn & Botanical Gardens. One more rented tuxedo.

He and the groomsmen got ready to walk into the hall where the wedding would take place. Glenn had worked late the night before, so he hadn’t been able to attend the rehearsal dinner. He didn’t know what the bridesmaid he’d be walking down the aisle with looked like. When he and the other groomsmen, as well as the maid of honor and best man, faced each other in the hallway, the woman standing across from him looked very familiar.

And so did her shoes.

Chelsea Medina was one of the bridesmaids.

“Hey, you!” Glenn said.

Chelsea looked straight into his eyes and smiled. “These shoes are great. I’ve got the feeling I’ll be able to dance all right.”

“I hope you’ll save some of those dances for me,” Glenn said. “I helped you pick out the shoes, y’know.”

About the Author: Nancy Goldberg Levine admits that she knows nothing about romance writing. She is the author of the full length romance novel, Tempting Jonah, and more than sixty short stories. She is hard at work on her WIPs about the Cincinnati branch of the Galloway family.


Jane Myers Perrine said...

What a great short story! Nancy, are you a shoe fiend?

Joan Reeves said...

Nancy, a lovely, sweet story. I hope you're going to follow this up with a story showing Glenn at his next wedding -- to Chelsea of course!

Best wishes,
Joan Reeves