Partners in Crime Part 4 – Rumors and Doubtful Letters
Kenny stood behind his desk, wearing a welcoming grin. Jess entered first and sat down. I entered next and shook Kenny’s hand. Kenny and I sat down together and Kenny struck up the conversation.
“So, girls, I hear you both are needing a job.”
“Yes, sir,” Said Jess, sitting erect in her chair. “Anne and I were laid-off from our previous job at Super Save Grocery. I was laid off several weeks before Anne due to budget cuts. Anne was laid off due to its closure.” Kenny had a grim frown on his face and shook his head.
“I know girls, it’s terrible. Super Slush was nearly closed down thanks to Mayor Scham’s bribery. But that also means that I can only take one of you. I can’t afford two more employees right now.”
Jess looked at me and raised her eyebrows. In that look, she asked me if I wanted the job. I nodded but tilted my head. In my face I conveyed my message, do you need me? She barely shook her head. Kenny looked at us with a bemused smile. “I assume that you two are silently conducting a negotiation. So, which of you girls are going to take the job.” I took a deep breath and said,
“I will, sir. When do you want me to start.” Kenny smiled a broad toothy smile.
“Welcome, to the team. It would be great if you started at once. Mariah can show you where your uniform is. Jess, it was nice doing business with you. Hopefully, I can take you aboard once our financial situation has stabilized.” Jessica smiled condescendingly, she wouldn’t want to be employed here if it was the last job in town. However, if necessity required it, she would bite the bullet and muck about with normal people. We stood and in turn shook hands with Kenny, a beaming smile on his face. We exited the office and Mariah greeted us with a smile much like her husband’s.
“Congratulations, Anne. Welcome. Hello Jess, it’s a shame that you can’t join u s right now.” She pulled me into a hug and I whispered in a low voice so only she could hear.
“Distribute in November. Avoid November fourteen, sixty-seven, and three.” She nodded briefly to show her acknowledgment, but the expression on her face never wavered. That was why she was one of the best distributors in our circuit. Jessica slung her bag over her shoulder after plucking it from the hook. “Bye, Jess,” I said. “Meet ya at the post office?”
“Yup,” was the reply. Mariah steered me towards the uniform closet. The uniform consisted of a neon pink polo shirt with the Super Slush logo on the breast pocket and on the back and a neon green Super Slush baseball hat. I took my place behind the counter and out of boredom began to clean every inch of the place.
Around lunchtime, I got about six customers. Everyone was grim and haggard. Several people looked so depressed that I had to ask what was the matter and they all said the same thing. The government was foreclosing on their homes for dumb reasons. They couldn’t afford the new homes the government was building in the Juliet suburb district. Their family would be on the streets. The government was messing with people even more, by increasing the fee paid at the toll booths to get in and out of the city. Planes were virtually unavailable unless you were the government. I found that this job was a good find. People are always ready to pour out their sorrows to a willing listener. I got a lot of good information. After our lunch rush, I mopped. Twice. I was wiping down the counter for the fourteenth time when the after-school crowd arrived. I was surprised how much business we drummed up. Banana splits were very popular that afternoon as I kept my ears open to hear the gossip from the kid’s loose lips. I began to mop for the third time just to hear a group of kids in the corner. I wasn’t disappointed. There were four kids in all. I estimated they were about fourteen through sixteen. The biggest boy started the conversation.
“So, I overheard Mrs. Gleeson talking to Mr. Manifest today about the housing crisis.”
“What’s a crisis?” Asked the littlest boy.
“Don’t be dumb, Roger.” Said a scrawny little boy.
“And you don’t be cruel, Sam.” Said a boy with big baleful eyes. “Roger, a crisis is an important or pressing problem,” Roger mumbled thanks as the biggest boy began his gossip over again.
“Anyway, Their Foreclosing Echo. Anyone who lives in Echo is going to get evicted, and have to buy a home in the Juliet district.”
“I’ve never heard of the Juliet before.” Said, Roger.
“It’s the newest development made by the government. The houses are super nice, but the government is making our parents pay a bunch of money to move. Our parents don’t even get to sell our house like you normally would if you moved.”
“The thing is,” said the baleful-eyed boy, “Is that the government is going to use the land that they got for free in order to make something big. But I don’t know what.”
“That’s right Tim,” said Sam. “My dad says it’s going to be a factory. He’s seen plans for an enormous building. He says it’s a factory that’s going to make something that’s going to handle the riots once and for all.” The big boy was still. He was frowning deeply into his milkshake.
“What’s wrong, Denis?” Asked Tim.
“I’m in the district right next to Echo. I’m in Foxtrot. Ya’ reckon they’re gonna tear down my district next?” The other boys sat silently. It was Roger that instilled them with words of hope.
“You never know, Denis. Just enjoy your milkshake.” They sat together in silence until they left. I collect their dishes and worked the rest of my shift with glee. As I was leaving, Mariah approached me.
“Here, dear. This is today’s pay. I’ll pay you every week, but I thought maybe you could use the cash.” I accepted it gratefully. She pulled me into a big hug. “From now on November is a no go. Too many contraband inspectors. I’ll do some digging where to distribute.” I nodded, smiled and called farewell as I stepped into the golden hour of the crisp Autumn sunset.