“Hi Lucia, it’s Ashley. I know I’m coming in tomorrow for training and just wanted to find out what to wear. I’m really excited!”
I close my eyes as I listen to her. Bad choice, answering the phone. I can’t handle her peppiness right now. So very Walking on Sunshine.
“Just wear comfortable clothes and shoes. I expect it to be a slow night, but you’ll be on your feet all day.” Please don’t ask anything else.
“And do I need to bring anything else?”
“Nope. Just you.” Say goodbye.
“Okay, thanks! I’ll see you tomorrow!”
I hang up look back at Gina. “Let’s go.”
The next day, I go downstairs early to meet with the delivery guys who bring me the liquor. The sun is still behind the skyline but it feels like it’s going to be another record-breaking day. These are the days I prefer to stay inside with the A/C cranked up as much as I can without going broke. Which isn’t too much, because the electric bill always wallops me at the end of each month and I vow to deal with a little sweat in the next month. Somehow, though, the creature comforts of a cool apartment win the battle against sweat every time.
I told Ashley to be at the bar at four, so there’s still a lot of time for quiet solitude.
I stare at the people passing by on the street for a few minutes more, then turn toward my office to start the bookkeeping. I don’t even notice the time going by as I add up numbers in columns and total sales for last week, comparing them to sales from last year. So far, so good. My nightmare is losing this place—I love everything about it and everything it represents.
Satisfaction of owning something and having control. Or autonomy, if you want to stick with the one word descriptions.
I glance at the clock on the wall, ticking loud over the music from my computer. It’s two-thirty already. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been here that long. I need to eat something and get ready for tonight.
Skipping up the steps to my apartment two at a time, I nearly knock Gina over as I bound in the door.
“Going out?” I ask her.
“Well, I thought about going for a walk. Maybe I’ll head over to Piedmont Park.”
I scan her clothes. She’s in a low-cut top, short shorts, and heels—not dressed for a walk in the park—but I decide not to say anything which might start a fight.
“Okay. You have your key, right?”
We say goodbye and I go to the fridge to see if there’s anything to eat. I can’t help but wonder where she’s actually headed to, but I’m more worried that if I pry, she won’t talk to me at all. She’ll tell me when she’s ready, I suppose. I just really hope she’s not going back to the Loser.
A ham and cheese sandwich later, I grab a soda from the door of the refrigerator and head back downstairs. I’m sure I can find something to do until Ashley shows up.
I leave the front door unlocked in case she gets here early and go to the office again. I want to look over my CDs for a themed party we’re having on Thursday for the college crowd. It’s time they learned the importance of music made long before they were born. In some cases, before their parents were born.
We’re going to have a good ol’ fashioned Sock Hop.
Though it was my idea, a couple of the sororities and fraternities at the local universities found out and decided to host socials. It should be a good night, and a lot of fun.
As I hum the tunes and sort the CDs to put in the jukebox, I hear someone come in. Checking the clock again, I see it’s only three-thirty. Ashley’s eager, but not that eager, I don’t think.
I peek out past the office door and stop short.
“We’re not open yet.”
“Oh, hi. Sorry. I was looking for Gina.”
I shake my head. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. You just took me by surprise.”
“No problem.” Bad Boys was looking for Gina, huh? Interesting development.
“She said she was going for a walk at Piedmont Park.
“Oh. Okay.” He looks around, as though I’m hiding her under a barstool. “I thought she told me to come here.”
“She might be on her way back. When she left, it was around two or two-thirty. I’ll give her a call and you can wait in here.”
“Thanks. It’s damn hot out there.”
I nod in agreement and go to my phone to dial her.
“Hello?” she answers.
“Hey, you have a visitor here at the bar. Are you close by?”
“Yeah, I’m just upstairs. I’ll be down in a sec.”
I relay the information to him and go back to my CD shuffling. This is a very interesting development. Gina better still be awake when I get off tonight so I can ask her about it.
A few moments later, I hear Gina’s voice and the door opens again before silence reigns. Well, silence except for my humming.
At precisely four o’clock, the door opens again and this time, it’s Ashley.