The last of three stories devoted to a still-unnamed agent of "Universal Balance," Lewis Baird's "Rachel's Story" was part of a parcel of uncompleted manuscripts that the retired free-lancer sent my way several years ago. The first tales, "Marianne/Mare" and "Patricia/Pat/Patti," have already been posted for public consumption, though it took quite a bit longer for this more extensive concluding piece to see a larger readership.
The reason for the delay is simple: Baird's manuscript was a mess. Only about a third of it was word-processed; the rest was hand-scrawled on a series of yellow legal notepads in faded pencils. The story inconsistently shifted tenses and points-of-view willy-nilly, and on at least two occasions Baird described the same scene two different ways. If I'd realized what a chore it was gonna be working the conclusion into a single flowing narrative, I probably wouldn't have posted the first story in the trilogy. But you know what they say about hindsight.
That noted, I don't feel half-bad about the finished "Rachel's Story." The conclusion's a bit rushed, but it generally works, I think, and answers a few questions that were raised by the first two stories. The political theme that hampers the first two tales for many readers only tangentially shows up here. Perhaps Lewis belatedly realized how distracting it could be - perhaps Lewis, who has never been much of a political animal, tired of it. In any event, the heroine of this yarn is a calculatedly apolitical creature, though she shares the same condescending attitude toward the plus-sized. That attitude fully changes by the end of the story, of course - which is really what makes Baird's stories fantasies . . .