40 Rock Tuff, P.I.: A Fashionable Crime

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An elderly couple entered with a small boy, obviously their grandson. They wanted new clothes for school, but they ignored my recommendation. “No, no. Something with short pants. He looks so cute in short pants.” Didn’t they realize that in high school a small boy in short pants is an inviting target for bullies? With my discouragement, they left without buying anything. At least I had not contributed to the boy’s victimhood.

A woman and a man came into the store, she with the air of a victorious general, he with the look of a man held prisoner for a ransom he fears won’t be paid. “Now, Horace, you know you need a new suit for my friends’ party next week. You are now one of the best dressed men in Blandsville. When I married you, you were a slob.” But probably a happy slob, I thought empathetically.

Mr. St. Laurent handled this sale himself, measuring the customer’s chest, waist, leg length, etc, and suggesting blue shantung as the colour and material.

I had not expected a men’s clothing store to be a tranche de vie.

The day ended and I was no closer to discovering the identity of the vandal or vandals.

The next morning Mr. St. Laurent was disappointed that I was wearing the same outfit. Did he have customers who came in every day to see what the staff were wearing? Or was he trying to sell me another suit? Maybe he was a compulsive salesman, the kind of person who would try to sell souvenir photos at a funeral.

Business was slow but steady. Mid-morning Randy discovered that someone had snipped the size tags from a row of sports coats. This presented no problem for a person experienced in judging a customer’s shoulder width and chest measurement, but for a novice like me, it would be a handicap, unless I stuck to selling ties and handkerchiefs.

Two signs were also altered: “Suit sale” became “ale its us” and “a real bargain” was changed to “a real grabin.”

Just after lunch Sam and Libby both headed for the back of the store. A joint female trip to the washroom? I wondered. I followed them. Libby tried to stop me by throwing her arms around my neck. “Oh, Rock, you’re such a handsome man.” I knew she was lying because on the list of Canada’s sexiest men, I ranked below several million others. I extricated myself from her embrace. ” Sam,” she called, “watch out.” Her warning was too late. I caught Sam switching socks to form pairs of mismatched colours.

“So you two are the saboteurs. But why?”

“Why not? A men’s clothing store is a bastion of male supposed superiority.”

“The headquarters of male chauvinist piggery,” added Libby.

I hoped that their vitriolic attack remained verbal and did not turn physical because I did not want to be injured or to have damage to my still-unpaid-for suit.

Mr. St. Laurent fired them, of course, and endured more Liberationist ranting.

He thanked me, but unfortunately did not pay me; in fact, I still owed him a substantial amount for my new clothes. I thought of going to dinner at some posh place with Amanda Friend so as to get some use out of my outfit, but that would only add to the expense.

Clothes make the man, I thought, and make him poor.

 

A Fashionable Crime

author
Gary E. Miller spent 29 years trying to teach English at several high schools in Ontario. In 1995, he made his greatest contribution to education by retiring. He now spends his time in rural Richmond, reading voraciously and eclectically, and occasionally writing stories and poems which do nothing to elevate the level of Canadian literature.
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