The clerk looked bored as I counted out the pennies. Thank goodness, she didn’t comment on all the candy as she shoved the goodies into a bag along with the coffee. I grabbed my bag and headed for the motel. The rusty window unit tried hard but failed to cut through the August heat. Too tired to care, I stripped off my clothes and crawled in bed. Sleep overtook me in seconds, and the next thing I knew, the alarm buzzed.
An almost-cold shower did nothing for my mood. Sounds from the ancient pot gurgling out some java entertained me as I dressed in the ugly black cotton-and-polyester-blend suit.
Black made my ass seem smaller, and the outfit wasn’t bad for a Goodwill find. The low-cut red blouse was sort of pretty. At least, the top showed off my boobs, which had gotten bigger along with my rear.
A view of my big ass in the mirror made me think I should diet. That thought didn’t last long when I glanced over at the stack of candy bars on the ugly green thing masquerading as a table. I let out a yelp. A scorpion raced for my breakfast. I grabbed my hardly-worn black pumps and gave the hungry insect a good whack.
I unwrapped a Hershey’s and cringed. Instead of being a deep dark brown, the chocolate had turned a dull white, a sure sign the bar had sat on the Dollar Store shelf a little too long. I took a bite anyway, and decided the scorpion might make a better breakfast. Hopefully the coffee hadn’t fermented as well. I poured myself a cup in the best Styrofoam mug available and downed a swig. Other than being lukewarm, the stuff tasted fresh enough.
I ventured a peek at the “lovely” blue clock radio and decided I’d better hurry. I slapped on some foundation and used lipstick to give a little color to my lips and cheeks. When I took flight from Sam, eyeliner and mascara got left behind.
Luckily, the law firm wasn’t far. I didn’t know how long the Brown Beast would hold up.
The car had been Sam’s make-up gift. Only cost me a broken jaw, two black eyes and a sprained wrist. I don’t think Sam paid much more for the thing. But, at least I had my own wheels, and a Cadillac to boot. The leather seats were only slightly cracked, and the body was still in good shape. Nevertheless, when the Caddie broke down, its new home would be the junkyard. I wanted to replace the monstrosity with a car that didn’t scream “piece of shit”.
The building, an old house converted into an office, needed a fresh coat of paint. Jones Law Firm, the sign proclaimed. The place might have been white at one time but I couldn’t say what the color was now. A large picture window, which hadn’t seen water in a few years, peered out on a lawn that was strangely well manicured. “Must have a client who’s paying him off in yard work”, I thought. I sat in the car for a few minutes trying to get up my courage.
The door was open. I walked into an unmanned reception area and heard typing coming from the end of a long hall. “Hello,” I called. A man answered, “Come on back.” The man sat at an old oak desk. A wastebasket in the corner of the room was brimming with rolled up paper and spilling on the floor. He extended a doughy hand, and introduced himself. Mr. Jones motioned for me to take a seat in an old overstuffed brown chair overflowing with documents. Moving a stack of papers to the edge of his dusty desk I plopped myself down. I thought he might make some small talk, but he shifted nervously and, sounding like he’d been rehearsing the lines for most of the morning, he asked, “What skills do you think you bring to our firm, Miss Jennings? And, the best question of all… “What are your faults and what are your strengths?”
I’d been doing some rehearsing of my own after reading “How To Ace An Interview” in Women’s Day, and was all prepared for those questions. I resisted the urge to tell him I could wash windows, dust, and empty wastebaskets, and told him, “I’m a hard worker, fast learner, and great speller.” We played big-time corporate America for another half-hour. Woman’s Day probably didn’t have a small-town, fat, old attorney and a woman on the run in mind when they published the article, but I still got the job. I guessed we both were a little desperate.
As the brown beast and I made our way back to the rattrap, I spied an attractive bed and breakfast, and started dreaming about my first paycheck. If only I could move there, and maybe even buy a couple of new blouses at Wal-Mart, instead of Goodwill.
At the motel I changed into shorts and tried another Hershey’s. This one was edible. I poured myself a drink, and set the whiskey on the table beside the dead scorpion. He stared up at me with cold unforgiving eyes. “You should throw that out,” he seemed to be saying. “Then, you wouldn’t go crawling back to Sam.” I lifted the Styrofoam cup. “Just one celebration drink,” I promised the lifeless bug.
I savored the warm, soothing liquid as it flowed into my body. I wanted another one. The scorpion glared. Reaching across the green surface I used the back of my hand to sweep the little monster out of my life. He landed on my shorts. As I started to brush him away, I saw the bruise above my knee, another one of Sam’s gifts.
“You win,” I told my new friend as I carefully placed him back on the table next to the empty cup.
Kathleen Mack has returned to writing after an absence of 40 years. A reprint of an article on writing, “Ten Road Signs For The Beginning Writer”, recently appeared in AbsoluteWrite.com. She has published a monthly sewing column, short stories for children, fantasy, and a number of articles. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as AARP Magazine, Popular Needlework, Farm Wife News, Bread For Children, Capper’s Weekly, Penman Magazine, Faith at Work, and others. Currently she is writing fiction just for the fun of it. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.