“We’re open for business.”
That was the first thought to pop into Jacob Silvers’ mind when Andrew introduced Ally to their merry little band of wannabe renegades. There was something very familiar about Ally even though he’d never seen her before, but that ‘open for business’ thought was much stronger. It dismissed the familiarity, glossing it over with a curiosity which quickly intensified, felt sharp.
Ally had said the strangest thing to him when Andrew introduced them. “Jacob. Such an old name for a man still young.” Jacob sensed this was the beginning of a brand new day.
And Lord knows they needed one.
Jacob knew he should be content, for he enjoyed his work, was paid well, and had a great deal of freedom and mobility. He worked with a good team, all smart and industry savvy, but not taking themselves so seriously that fun got left out of the mix. They consistently churned out one bestseller after another, and small as they were, Writers & Readers Edge Press enjoyed a fantastic reputation in the publishing world. Their authors loved them, and distributors counted on them to live up to their name, finding those edgy works buyers gobbled up with an insatiable appetite and open wallet.
Rewarding work to be sure, so what was his trouble in this publishing paradise? Pretty simple, very frustrating: Jacob was bored, and his boredom made him restless and more than a little confused. He’d often wished one of the authors he repped would write this story out for him, giving it a plot which made sense. Aren’t you supposed to be happy when you love your work and just about everything which goes with it? What was that saying? “Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.” So what was missing?
When Ally walked in that day, taking the reins from Andrew with a subtle but sure finality, Jacob instantly knew what that missing element had been. As empty a clichÃ© as he felt the word had become, he couldn’t think of a better one: Leadership. There was no mistaking Ally’s readiness in the way she carried herself, and in how those eyes took everything into account in silent inventory. That fire of eager leadership had been missing for a while now, and maybe this time it need not come from within him.
“We’re open for business.”
Jacob had said those words seven years before Ally joined W&RE Press. It was 7am on a Saturday morning in late May, and he’d said it as he moved aside the orange traffic cones in their driveway to let people in. He was surprised by the crowd quietly waiting, many with children in tow. His wife had done a terrific job passing out her artsy pastel flyers, that’s for sure. She’d written her heart, and they ended up in the hands of the right buyers:
Garage Sale on Dillingham Avenue, 7am Saturday.
Mostly books for the young and the never old.
We’re Voracious Readers, and need to make room on our bookshelves for more.
Wonderful children’s selection. Selling cookbooks, our art and craft magazines.
There will be other household and family-loved things.
Goods you normally find at a garage sale when the kids grow up, leave home.
Mom can stop working! (long-time party planner, selling those wares too)
Hope to see you fellow readers; we’ll brew coffee.
As promised, they had an amazing number of books to sell, but there was much more, accumulated through years living in the same neighborhood raising an active family. His wife charmed as a seller that morning, and Jacob was instantly put to work as the banker. Head down, he pecked at his calculator buttons to be sure of each purchase total, bagged up their old life in recycled grocery sacks, and doled out change non-stop for at least the first two hours of the morning. When he finally got a breather and looked up, Jacob was amazed at what he saw.
Part of their wares included a few dozen straw mats left over from a beach party his wife had done, and they were now spread out on his front lawn, under the shade of their huge avocado tree. Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers in assorted family combination were sitting and quietly reading, having dragged their sale boxes of books out with them like some literary bonfire crackling warm in their midst. They flipped through short stacks of books on each mat and sipped their coffee, trading with each other, enjoying the morning and in no rush to decide which they’d buy. And they did buy. They even bought the books they’d already read. They were buying their morning reading under that avocado tree, taking it home with them.
Jacob had looked at his wife, smiled and said, “Whoa, we’re open for business alright.”
A woman trying to choose between some paper lanterns caught their attention as she shushed her little boy, saying, “I’m trying to hurry Matthew, please give mommy just a few more minutes.” Matthew was about four and he’d already chosen three books, held close to his chest. “Hey sport, how ‘bout I read one of those books to you until your mom is done?” Jacob asked him.
After getting “It’s okay, go ahead” from his grateful mom, Jacob and Matthew grabbed another mat and joined the crowd on the lawn. By the time Jacob had finished reading Where the Wild Things Are, something was stirring, something big. It had to do with Matthew and the other readers, with the books, and with the reading so irresistible that morning. Jacob didn’t know what it was; he only knew he wasn’t as ready as his wife was to retire. Not yet.
Within a year, Jacob was throwing open the doors of a book launch with his new boss Andrew Edgewater, and a very excited first-time author. “Another author open for business.” Andrew had said. “You ready?”
Trailer of the movie to be released next month!
My mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
About the #FridayFlash fiction community. This is the 4th time I am participating, with fictional stories that do reflect some of the struggles we have in our workplaces today. My first 3 stories: The Vision, and The Manager (Learn more about Ally in that one) and last week, The Truth Will Set You Free.
Several different thoughts collided in this one for me.
1. Continual business reinvention is a must, and personally I feel the publishing industry is a potent example and might be fun to explore. Giving this company a name might get me to work in more story versus non-stop character development, fun as it is!
2. Seemingly happy, successful people like Jacob can get so neglected in the workplace. Managers’ attentions get diverted as “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” and their stars are not kept happy. They are not challenged.
3. Like Jacob, many of us are not quite sure what we want; we just know we want different. Leadership may still be a buzz word, but that doesn’t mean we want it any less.
4. I feel I need to address The Vision again in a future installment, and this was a stretching/playing until it comes to me. Jacob had a very strong vision at one time, and it came from the most unlikely place. We still don’t know about the outcome of his promotion battle with Camille —does he even want it?
5. And last, we just had a garage sale this past weekend for a similar clutter busting, though I would never sell my books!
Any workplace familiarity in this one for you?
If you are a #FridayFlash writer, how would you have edited this to make it shorter?