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The City was not worthy of Renfro.
For years, Renfro wanted to get to the Big City to experience it. He heard all the possible urban horror stories plus a few good ones thrown in for good measure. The Big City was full of life and prosperity and it never slept. The concept of a city never sleeping puzzled him.
Renfro didn’t carry a lot of money with him because of those stories. The self-proclaimed redneck from Louisiana could hold his own in a physical one-on-one encounter, but if two or more people brandished weapons, he wasn’t as confident. For the majority of his first hour in the Big City, Renfro fixed his gaze upward, his mouth agape, and was stunned at the heights, sights, and crowds.
When he opened the door for a line of people entering a multi-floor shopping mall, one of the women who passed through said, “I can open the door myself, ya know.”
All throughout his childhood, Renfro had heard about these kinds of women, but never once encountered one. Down in the South, men were chivalrous without knowing what the word meant. They opened doors, said ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ ‘yes ma’am, no sir, and a host of other polite gestures around men and women alike.
In fact, he had even rehearsed a few lines but never expected to use them, thinking that no such woman could possibly exist:
“I’m not opening the door because you’re a lady but because I’m a gentleman.”
“I know you can open it, but I did the honors myself so you don’t have to.”
One of his in-head scenarios had him releasing the door while the woman was halfway through.
But of course, none of those were manly or Christian qualities, and all would’ve caused more harm than good.
So, in that instant with all these things racing through his head, Renfro T. Malcolm – Southern-born and Southern-bred – said the only appropriate thing possible to this woman, “You’re welcome.”