#4 – What I Want, What You Need

January 24th, 2011

“So, I need a job,” Leticia said as she bit the top off a stalk of celery.

“And I am in a position to fix that, how?” Kerstin replied, “I have been back here for two years and have only left Red Terrace like twice before this week.”

“Okay,” Leticia said, drawing out the word, “well, it was more than twice; but I get your point.”  She paused, “Uhm, so you need a job too.”

Kerstin puffed up her cheeks.  “I have no marketable human skills,” she commented wryly.  Four years of college netted her a degree in creative writing and a lifetime of not being a cookie-cutter Waterford netted her a healthy aptitude for sarcasm. “At least you’re, like, an architect.”

Leticia rolled her eyes, “I’m a architect on paper, but it’s not like I’ve ever built a building.”

“I thought architects designed buildings,” Kerstin tilted her head sideways and smirked at her friend.  “Maybe that’s why you don’t have a job.”

“Shut up,” Leticia said wagging her celery menacingly, “you know what I mean.  Hey, what about Waterford?  Is your Dad building anything new that he needs designed?”  She had worked at a prestigious architecture firm in Grand City before moving back to Emerald Heights, but she had never done more than consult and make revisions to an actual plan.

“I don’t know,” she paused, “I mean, yes, he is.  But, I don’t…  I’m not sure I’m the best person… y’know, ’cause he’s kinda pissed that I’m moving out… so, yeah, I’m not sure I’m the best person to put a word in with my Dad.”

“Clearly,” Leticia replied, “he is my sorta-uncle,” she said referring to the fact that Kerstin’s mother and her’s were sisters, although Kerstin’s mother was no longer married to Lawrence Waterford.  “I can call him on my own.”

“What is my purpose here, then, exactly?”  Kerstin asked.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Leticia replied flatly.  “But, you really do need a job.”

“Like I don’t know that.”

The P & QDetective Burgess ran his finger around the rim of the highball in front of him.  Marshall knew more than he was telling and it was only a matter of time before he slipped up and revealed himself. When he did, Kevin Burgess would be there to make the collar. It might be that Marshall wasn’t guilty, but he was involved, no doubt of that. Burgess could feel it in his bones. He’d seen this behaviour before, but a man who runs from his past only gets tired.

It was after nine, but Burgess didn’t care. He’d always been a night owl, anyway. He stared at his empty glass. As the barmaid waltzed by, he gave a quick tug at the hem of her dress.

“I’ll have another gin and tonic,” he said, sliding a five dollar bill onto her tray. The girl nodded with a smile before going on her way.

Burgess looked around the bar, his gaze settling on two men playing pool. One of them seemed familiar; where had he seen that face? Slowly it came back to him. The man had been in the bar when Burgess had met with Marshall. He rose to his feet and approached slowly, with deliberate intent.

“Evening, gentlemen,” he said, laying a twenty on the table. “Tell me, do either of you know Duncan Marshall?”

One of the men, the one whom Burgess recognized from before, answered derisively, “Depends on who wants’ta know.”

“Kevin Burgess. I’m a detective.”

The response was met only with silence and a furtive glance.

Kevin shrugged and produced another twenty dollar bill. “Tell you what. How about we play a game of nine-ball? Every shot you sink, I’ll cough up another twenty. Every shot I sink, you answer a question. Sound fair?”

The man looked at his companion and cocked his head sharply. The other simply nodded and walked away.

“Nine-ball,” the man said.

Burgess smiled. “You break.”

Price BoutiqueSarah stood in front of the cash register and it clicked and whirred away, spewing out reams of receipt paper.  The day’s sales had been impressive.  From time to time she enjoyed coming to the sales floor and cashing out the registers and chatting with the staff.

There were hundreds of Price locations across the country and internationally, and she had visited each of them, but this one, the first one, was the one that held the most nostalgia for her.  For fifty years her family had owned this piece of real estate, for fifty years they had designed and sold world renowned boutique fashion from this location.  She was proud of that legacy, she was proud of being part of that legacy.

The staff were chatting about some of the stranger clients that had come through the boutique that day.  There was a woman who wanted to know if Price could design a matching outfit for her dog, to which of course they said yes.  There was the woman who had fallen in love with a dress that was at least eight sizes too small for her and asked, quite honestly, if it could be let out “like, where did she think we hid that much fabric?” the girl snickered.

“That’s rude,” Sarah admonished, although she had to admit that she found it funny.

The girl responded, “I didn’t mean it like that.”

She continued speaking in explanation of the joke, but Sarah’s attention was caught away by a person walking across in front of the store’s large display window.  She dropped the ledger she was holding and headed for the doors.  She stepped outside and regarded the woman for the briefest second before she spoke, “Leticia?”

The woman spun around and it was, in fact, Leticia McKinelle standing in front of her.  “Oh my god, it’s been years!”  Sarah exclaimed.

“Sarah!  Wow,” Leticia replied, “yeah, it has.  I just moved back about two weeks ago, my Dad’s not…  I just moved back.  How are you?”

“Great,” she said, gesturing to the Price display window as she spoke.  “Business is good.”

Leticia smiled, same old Sarah.  Family first in all things.  “I just came from dinner with Kerstin,” she sighed, “I was trying to hit her up for a job…  well her Dad, really.  I just thought she might…”  She stopped.  “Sorry.  I’m glad that business is good.  It’s really good to see you.”

“You need a job?”  Sarah said, “architect, right?”  She wasn’t really asking, she wasn’t finished speaking.  “Come work for me.”

“What?” Leticia said, “I mean, I design buildings, not dresses you know.”

Sarah laughed.  “Of course not, that’s my job.”

Cassie & Duncan Marshall“Duncan Marshall, my name is police-detective Kevin Burgess. I need to speak with you, I am staying at the Heights Motel. Please contact me when you get this message at 508-55…”

Duncan stabbed the “erase” button and the machine responded with a beep.

“Who was that, Duncan,” Cassie asked, appearing in the doorway.  She looked suspicious.  Her face held the same look as it had the time she though she caught him with another woman at his office.  His general method of working late some nights and quitting early others, the lack of a concrete schedule and its fluidity made her suspicious; at least it made her question his loyalty on more than a few occasions.

“No one – just a prank caller,” he said.  “Don’t worry about it,” he spoke soothingly though it came off sounding less sincere than he’d hoped.  Her brow furrowed.

He crossed the room and took her by both shoulders.  “Let’s…  do something tonight.”

Cassie shifted her weight from one foot to the other, “I thought we were going to take it easy this week.”

Duncan rubbed her arms and looked earnestly into her face, “no cooking, no dishes, how much easier can it get?”

“I have a menu to…”  Cassie began.

“Tomorrow, it will wait ’til tomorrow.”  He said, “besides how is that taking it easy?”

“Fine,” she relented finally.  “Cafe Orleans?”

“I am making the reservation,” he said, spinning his wife in place, “you go get ready.”

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