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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (11/21/13)

TITLE: Propriety
By Steve McClure


8:00 AM. A yellow cab pulled up in front Peterson’s Department Store. Out stepped Bill Prichard, head of Men’s Apparel. After paying the cabbie, he walked through the wide glass doors, through Ladies’ Apparel, through Jewelry, and rode the center-floor escalator to Men’s on the second floor. He stepped off into the shoe department.

“Good morning, Mr. Prichard,” cheerfully rang out a neatly dressed young man.

“Good morning, Jimmy,” responded Prichard.

“Mr. Prichard, if you have a moment, I’d like to speak to you about this brand of shoe, here.” Jimmy pointed to a rack toward the rear of the department.

“Those? The ones that aren’t moving well?”

“Exactly,” Jimmy confirmed. “I’d like to bring them toward the escalator. Put them closer to traffic. They’re nice shoes and they should be selling better.”

Prichard pondered. He wasn’t fond of moving things around much. But the kid had a point. “OK, Jimmy. Give it a shot.”


5:00 PM. On his way out, Prichard couldn’t help but notice the rack of shoes in their new place. “Jimmy,” he called out. “This looks good. Any improvement?”

“Indeed, Mr. Prichard. Three pair sold just today.”

Really, mused Prichard to himself. And on an off day. He walked over to Jimmy. “How long have you worked here?”

“About 8 months, now,” Jimmy answered.

“What areas have you worked in?”

“I started in men’s suits, then a couple of months in casuals…and here for the past two months.”

“That was a nice idea,” Prichard complimented. “You have any more? Not just here, but for the department as a whole?”

“Well, now that you ask….”

Prichard listened intently. Jimmy had several ideas…big ideas. When Jimmy finished, Prichard said, “That would take a lot…a lot of rearranging and modifying.”

“True,” Jimmy responded. “But we wouldn’t have to do it all at once.”

Prichard thought. He glanced around the floor imagining the finished product. This might be good. “OK, Jimmy. It’s your project. Have at it.”


8:00 AM. Prichard made his usual trek through the store up to his department. He hardly recognized it. He walked around the floor taking in the changes. Better than I imagined, he mused.

“This is nice, Mr. Prichard,” a salesclerk commented.

“Where’s Jimmy?” he asked.

“He’ll be back soon. He was here all night.”

“Prichard,” boomed a tall, rather rotund gentleman from across the floor. “I like what you’ve done to the place.”

“Thanks, Mr. Peterson. It’s a bit of work.”

“I like initiative,” Peterson continued. “Come and see me. I’d like to hear more.”

“I’ll arrange it, Mr. Peterson,” Prichard responded, strolling toward his office.

“Morning, Laura,” he said to his secretary. “Get me an appointment with Mr. Peterson this afternoon, will you?”

“Yes, sir,” Laura responded.


4:15 PM. Prichard took the elevator to the top floor, exited, and greeted Peterson’s secretary. “He’s expecting me,” he said.

“Yes, sir, Mr. Prichard. Go right in.”

Prichard entered the large, glass-enclosed office with its view of the entire city.

“Prichard,” boomed Peterson. “Come and sit. Tell me how all this came about.”

Prichard related Jimmy’s ideas, how they improved traffic flow, increased visibility in key areas, eased exchanges between sales personnel and customers. He didn’t mention Jimmy.

“Great ideas,” roared Peterson. “You think you could do something like this in Furniture? That department’s been ‘cluttered’ for some time.”

“Yes, sir,” Prichard responded. “I think so.”

“Great. I’ll let Hobson know you’re coming to his floor with ideas.”

Prichard returned to Men’s and found Jimmy. “I’d like you to go up to Furniture and look around. See what improvements might be made there. This is for Mr. Peterson.”

“OK, Mr. Prichard. I’ll do it tonight.”


8:00 AM. Prichard arrived and found Jimmy. “Well?”

Jimmy offered some preliminary ideas. Not having worked in Furniture, he didn’t have many.

“Spend the day up there,” Prichard directed. “Watch and see what else might be done.”

Jimmy spent the morning watching traffic and exchanges in Furniture. Mid-day, Hobson noticed him and asked why he was there.

“Mr. Prichard sent me to look for ways to improve, Mr. Hobson.”

“How come Prichard’s not here,” he asked.

“He asked me to see how my ideas for Men’s Apparel might apply here,” Jimmy responded.

“Your ideas,” a surprised Hobson quipped. “And?”

Jimmy related his few suggestions. Hobson took them in, looking around the floor, imagining a new look.

“I have an appointment with Mr. Peterson this afternoon, Jimmy. I think you should join me.”

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This article has been read 249 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 11/29/13
Great story with a great ending! I loved it. Nicely done, and nicely told.

God bless~
Barbara Caldwell11/29/13
Great job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/29/13
I like the way you handled the topic. It was interesting, suspenseful and fresh.

The only red ink I have is don't start a sentence with a numeral, either write it out(though that isn't always easy or correct with time) or use a word like At 8:00...

Overall, though, you did a splendid job. Your characters were real and the conflict interesting.
C D Swanson 12/05/13
Congrats! God bless~