Wednesday, October 5, 2016

On Hiatus

Redux will be on official hiatus through mid-January 2017. At that time, we will return with a period of solicited material, and in February 2017, or thereabouts, we will be open for a period of open submissions. Please read the submission guidelines for more information—and CHECK BACK for the exact dates submissions will be open and other necessary information.

In short: DO NOT SEND WORK NOW. It will be deleted without response, and that will make us all feel sad.

In the meantime for your reading pleasure, please check out the Archives or this 200th anniversary post of popular pieces.

See you soon…and, as always, thank you for your support of Redux!

Monday, October 3, 2016

#221: "Development Girl" by Pamela Balluck

            ~This story first appeared in Western Humanities Review (1999)


Rose is worried about how to answer Mr. Fly-By-Knight Productions’ question (why did she leave her last job?) in a way that won’t make Ray look bad. She cannot say the why of the truth—Oh, we pitched a T.V. movie about a hoax to our bosses, the former quiz-show scandalers—so, she’s going to say the general truth (Fly-By-Knight may already know)—Ray lost his development deal there—euphemistically, it “expired”—but, before she can get it out, Fly-By’s next question is, “Are you wearing a bra?”
            Rose is thinking, this is some kind of a joke, right? A test to see if she has a sense of humor, or if she’s too young, too immature, flusterable, impressionable, malleable, too serious for the position, anything to comprehend this bald guy older than her dad asking her what lies between her nips and the shirt she just ironed so damn carefully for this interview. It makes her think of wasted dates she worked so hard dressing for, only to find whomever is most impressed when her clothes are crumpled on the floor.
            So, she wants to be sophisticated. She answers, yeah, she’s wearing a bra. She doesn’t want to make a big deal. And he says—“Why don’t you go in the john and change out of it? Then we’ll continue more comfortably.”
            He laughs. He shakes his head like Rose has got him wrong. “With your blouse on. Unless you think it’s appropriate without.”
            He is putting “appropriate” on her? She just sits there.
            He says, “Say I’ve got Beatty coming in, I’ve got Hamilton, I’ve got Scott—guys I want to be comfortable, you know, relaxed, when they walk through our doors, relaxed when they walk out. Doesn’t make sense to have some smart, beautiful, uptight girl, you know, first-thing-to-last in here. We need them coming back, wanting to work with us. A beautiful girl just inside our doors, outside my door, relaxed about who she is, makes a man feel all right in his skin, keeps his, you know, creative juices flowing—makes for an all-around more comfortable office experience.”
            “I just want to make sure,” Rose says. “Jess says you’re looking for a development-slash-production assistant?”
            “Am. Can see, though, Erik and me, we’ve got room for only one more in these offices— receptionist, D-Girl, secretary, P.A., dependin’ on what’s doin’. Let’s talk more about specs when you’re more yourself. That’s who I want to be talkin’ to.”
            Rose is too smart for why-don’t-you-slip-into-something-more-comfortable. But, there’s no one else to play this thing off of—the associate producer, Erik, and the woman who’s leaving (why exactly?)—they are both out to lunch. Is he kidding?
            She finds herself in this guy’s bungalow john, thinking, Jess, Ray’s wife (and agent), who set this thing up, goes way back with Fly-By, before Jess knew Ray, back to her Paramount days, and she is like an aunt to Rose, so Fly-By, Rose figures, is kind of like an uncle, or should be. Rose realizes how stupid it is to pretend she can think like that, when at twenty-three she knows better. Especially after Jess asked her to fill in as Ray’s “date” to the Western-themed S.H.A.R.E. benefit and when Jess got back into town, so-called friends told her they hated to report it but Ray was out with some young filly. He seemed pretty tight with her. Rose figures Uncle Fly-By knows he shouldn’t pull anything he doesn’t want Jess, or anyone else, to know about. Unless Rose passing this test would mean that what goes on in his office is what goes on in his office and Who-knows-who ain’t supposed to count for Who-knows-what. And that’s not okay with her, not about doing business. She knows that.
            So, why does she watch herself in the man’s bathroom mirror, tucking her blouse back into her skirt and stuffing her bra—of all things on this interview—into her purse, wondering, if this is what she has to do to qualify for this job, what would she have to do to hold on to it? She knows something about setting precedents.
            So, why—instead of heading back out to her car on the strip, or to his office with her bra still on (how would he know?)—does she return to his office, complicit with him now in her bralessness?
            Her blouse does not show her bralessness—it is not see-through or clingy—a sturdy rayon-cotton blend, short-sleeved, covered with an earth-tone jungle—but still, Fly-By says: “That’s better. I feel more comfortable with you already.”
            Now she’s as creepy as he is.