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We Take Walk-Ins

Customer service is an important aspect of any consumer-based business. And remember: the client is always right.

Except of course when the proprietor exercises his God-given capitalist right: the right to refuse service to anyone.

We Take Walk-Ins by Angel Luis Colon

Hot damn, looks like you zigged when you should have zagged. Went left instead of right. You’re in through the out door. 

I’m taking a wild guess you’re lost. 

No? Read the sign? Really? You’ll have to pardon my surprise. It’s not often someone as perceptive as you pops up out of the blue to make my day that much brighter. And no, I’m not blowing smoke up your ass. I mean, you have any idea how many people ignore that sign? I mean, sure the positioning is excellent—right off one of the most used exit ramps in the county. We spent weeks scouting for the right spot. And let me tell you, it’s probably five times bigger than the original. Still, I guess there isn’t much of a market when all you got is a sign says, “BABY EXPO” and a red arrow beneath, huh? 

Well, I was never accused of being a marketing guru. Still, I’m excited you found us. 

Enough about me. Clearly, you’re either curious or you’ve been on this bike before. If it’s the former, allow me to give you the long version. Babies. Name the type you want. I’ll let you know exactly how many times Ben Franklin needs to show his face in my hand before you get to bring the bundle of joy back home. Not to make you skittish, but I trust you know that we’re cash only? 

Ah, see. You didn’t bat an eye there. Old hand with these kinds of places. I knew you had that look. I could tell the minute I saw that Miata pull up outside. Now, here’s our catalog—can’t really have the stock on premises—go on and look through the Big Book of Babies. Soon as you see anything that strikes your fancy we can move on to next steps. 

That one? Little fella’s got a hell of a story. We pulled him out of a Cambodian fuck storm. I’m talking limbs organized by size in burning piles—Hieronymus Bosch-level shit. He’s still a little iffy around certain colors and images, but there’s a lot of love there, even if I never seen him smile. 

Her? Niger. No, not Nigeria, Niger. Her story ain’t as dramatic. Parents needed something extra and she was mouth number 12. Real sweetheart, but a little colicky—not like that isn’t common. Plenty of new parents deal with it just fine. Before you know it, she’ll be laughing her little cheeks off and playing lead drummer in the pots and pans band. 

That little guy on page 37 is from right here in the good old US of A. Kentucky, if I remember right. Eats like a goddamn rhino and makes about the same mess. Fair bit of warning, he’s got a skin condition—sensitive to light or something. I like to be honest with potential clients. Not about to hand off product with defects without fair warning. 

I could go on and on, but I assure you; each child has an interesting and compelling background. We’re talking hours of potential conversations at garden parties, late brunches, or whatever you get up to with fellow parents. Your social standing couldn’t get higher unless you personally adopted an orphanage in Darfur and made a documentary about it. And please, I’m not trying to say you’re the type to make an empty social statement for the clout—just giving a selling point if that’s something that appeals to you. 

Let me stop talking and let you concentrate. I feel like I may be a distracting element. 

Not to press you any further, but you’re flipping through those pages and I get the feeling I’m losing you. I’ll have to admit I’m a little worried. Tell you what. I can see none of this is really disco enough for you. What about conjoined twins? Triplets? You got the look of a person who likes to keep busy. Real responsible-like. I can tell that by the car and the outfit. You’re keeping it sharp with the buttoned-up blouse and pencil skirt. I bet you’re in the corporate world—real mover and shaker. Probably have a nice au pair lined up to help out. Love those shoes too. Sensible. I would figure you’d have heels, but no, you know the value of being comfortable and stick to flats. 

Sorry, I rant. I bet the last thing the boys at the other end of the line want is to hear me go on and on like some used car salesman. That’s why I already sent my people out to give them something a little more interesting to discuss before you even pulled into the parking lot. 

Apologies, I’m being unclear. What I’m talking about is the wire you got taped to your belly and chest. You know, the way your federal agency friends are listening in on our illicit transaction? Is that better? I’m not sure if it is, because you’re shaking your head like that and it’s pretty damn clear the situation we’ve got ourselves into. 

I think you’re gonna want to get down on your knees and put those hands behind your head. I don’t like guns, more of a knife man myself, but my people behind you are a little less discriminating. Don’t mind the floor; it’s clean—for now. This is as much of a disappointment for me as it is for you. I truly mean that. I pride myself on building deep and fulfilling relationships with my clients, so imagine how it feels to know right from the start that we’ve got ourselves a foundation set in deception. Heartbreaking, it truly is. 

You have a million questions. I can see it in your eyes. Why advertise? Why put it out there for the whole world to see? Why would I stick around knowing you folks were coming? Sure are a lot of questions that won’t be getting answers. You know, I’ve found that life is pretty screwed up that way. Though, your understanding of that point is probably far deeper than mine right now. 

Well, I’ll give you one, but I’ll be honest: I’m not too certain you’re going to like the mouth it comes from. Just know that your people won’t stop us from doing our work. The product I provide to my target demographic is far too important. 

See? I rant. Probably got more answers than I intended to give. 

It really is a damn shame though. I meant what I said before; that sure is a nice blouse. Sorry to ruin it. 

Angel Luis Colón works in New York City but has been exiled to live in the northern wastes of New Jersey—thankfully, they have good beer. His work has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Revolt Daily, Thuglit, All Due Respect, and The Flash Fiction Offensive. You can follow his grumblings on Twitter @GoshDarnMyLife. Or