Another deleted scene from The Patron Saint…

 My protagonist’s friend Melinda does not actually appear in the novel, but she does exist.  This excerpt, which also does not appear in the novel, serves as a testament to that fact:

I have next morning off and help my friend Melinda take inventory in her shoe store. Melinda has dreadlocks like snakes and can silence snippy customers with her stare. It’s very impressive. One look from her can turn anyone to granite for fifteen seconds. She’s also good at consoling me when needed and giving me part-time work to help with my car payments.

Melinda inherited the shop from her dad. Her store smells of lavender and new shoes and she plays classical music, Mozart or Hayden or Beethoven. Melinda says stately music makes people feel like buying shoes. Lavender makes them feel calm and classy, and classy people also feel like buying shoes. I don’t know where she got her information on shoe psychology, but it works. A few years back she also decided to carry a specialty line of orthopedic shoes and cater to old people.

“There will always be old people with foot problems,” she says. “Besides, old people like the personal touch and don’t mind paying more for it. All your dad has to do is figure out a market niche and you’ll be fine. I suggest old people.”

“Dad doesn’t believe in niches,” I say. “He says our store has have the best coffee in town and everyone should pay homage to the fact.”

“Screw that,” she says. “Old people are where it’s at. The other key to attracting old people is not to treat them like they’re six. Too many people talk really loudly and slowly around old people. You have to remember that they’re human, they’re just old humans. You find out all sorts of stuff about how to sell to old people if you just listen to them.”

Five minutes later an elderly lady waddles in the shoe store and demands that Melinda take back a pair of shoes and give her a full refund.

“You said the shoes would feel good and they don’t,” she says. “My feet still hurt.”

Melinda smiles and walks the lady to the front register where she examines the sales receipt.

“Ma’am,” she says, “you’ve had these shoes for a month. They have a lot of wear on them.”

“Yes,” says the lady, “and my feet still hurt.” She proceeds to talk for fifteen minutes about how she has to babysit her grandchildren four times a week. She takes them to the park and runs all over and needs shoes that can support that kind of workout.

“I can’t take them back if you’ve worn then for a month,” says Melinda. “Maybe you just need insoles to cushion your feet. I’ll give you some for free.”

“But you said my feet wouldn’t hurt if I bought these shoes,” says the old lady.

“And they didn’t hurt for quite a while, did they?” says Melinda.

“I want new shoes,” says the old lady. “If I knew you were going to be this impolite about taking them back, I wouldn’t have come to the shoe store in the first place.”

Melinda rolls her eyes and gives the old lady her stare. It’s a long stare. A hard stare. The lady shuts right up.

“I’ll get your insoles,” says Melinda, turning so fast that her dreadlocks swirl around her head. After the old lady leaves, Melinda mutters that the customer is not always right. Sometimes the customer is just a pain in the ass.

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