Free fiction, available here for a limited time. “N.E. Imported” was originally published in Thrice Fiction Magazine.
I can’t imagine what N.E. Imported was like before Charlie Moore worked there. Even though he only started a few months before me, it felt like he had been there much longer. Maybe it was how everyone treated him.
Shit, he got a whole lot of slack, more than me, more than anyone in the place. You could tell when you saw him. His hair fell long and messy just onto the top of his shoulders. Dark scruff speckled his chin—though, not too scruffy. The guy never wore the mandatory tie, just crisp white shirts with the top two buttons popped open. He acted like he looked too. He took his own breaks, missed meetings, came late, left early. People around the office would shrug it off, “That’s Charlie.”
We all knew why too. We knew why our boss and owner, Andy Blackwell—the man with the wardrobe of khakis—let all of it go. Charlie was such a damn good salesman. He had the gift of gab—sure, most of us probably did. But he also had moves that were impossible to replicate. We studied certain tricks at seminars—mirroring, matching, reading body language. Charlie never went to any of these clinics, of course. He never seemed to even use the techniques. When he got face to face with someone, he would make sure he never lost eye contact. And he wouldn’t. The customer, which we called “the mark,” would remain fixed until they opened their wallet, paying for some junk that they never wanted. I used to joke with Charlie and say his eyes shot tractor beams like some sort of super villain.
Other salesmen and women, ones much older than him, would ask how he got so good. He told us that as a kid he worked for the local church shucking bibles door to door for donation money. He’d say, “If you can sell people on something as immaterial as religion, you can sell them on anything.” He’d smile out half of his mouth and you’d wonder if the story was true, or if it was just something he liked to say to add to his myth…
THIS STORY IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE HERE. BUT CAN BE READ WHERE IT WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED, IN THRICE FICTION.