Continual Resort Part #7 – Acquaintances

businessman holding briefcase

Image courtesy of Ambro at freedigitalphotos.net

John was led to a small booth in a private corner. He had asked to be seated in the smoking section due to his liking for a ‘square’ immediately after a meal and he was quite comfortable with the confined quarters which was surprisingly cleaner that he’d expected. Most smoking sections were often neglected seemingly as a rule as if to somehow convince smokers that they were helpless nicotine addicts who did not deserve to enjoy a nice meal in the same conditions that non-smokers enjoyed while still being charged the same.

He did not order an appetizer for the tomato soup had served its purpose as he proceeded to tell his waitress that he would have the day’s special with water. After thanking the waitress for his meal and upon being served, John savored the aroma that wafted straight from the plate to his nose. “I guess it’s pleasure time”, he said with a grin and dug in; knowing the compliments given later by him would be sincere.

John stifled the burp that escaped his digestive system…”Shit, that was good.” He spoke quietly as others watched him.  By this time, the waitress had made her rounds back to John’s booth. “Was everything okay for you sir?” John answered in his deep country accent, “Aw, yeah! Ever’thang was just fine! I ain’t had a meal like that in well…forever, haha! Jus’ happened ta run up on a lil cash, so I thought it fittin’ that I have a decent meal and ended up here. Matter of fact, I thank I’d like’ta pay my compliments to’tha chef if’n it’s alright with’ya.” The waitress giggled a little at the accent, but was glad that this man had enjoyed himself if only for the first time in his life. She felt as if she were but a small component contributing to the glimmer of light beaming ever so slightly in his otherwise dark and unfortunate lifestyle.

Just a tad apprehensive about what she should do exactly, Sandy decided that she would ask first before taking it upon herself to lead him to the kitchen area as John pulled his shades down with a questioning look in his eyes. The look compelled the compassionate young waitress to accommodate her customer who had given her a generous tip. She immediately went to the kitchen area to inform the staff about her customer. Donny was acting head chef and would be running the kitchen on this night and throughout his work week after introducing his new dish and putting Derrick in his place. “Listen, watch, and repeat, dude.” Derrick knew full well that he had to do as Donny told him if he intended to efficiently carry on later that weekend while accepting compliments that Donny had earned.

After a few minutes, Sandy returned as she said she would to lead John to where he wanted to be. “Are you ready sir?”

“Shore am, miss! Jus lead tha way!”

**

“Awww, naaawww! It’s John ain’t it?” With a short laugh Donny hurriedly wiped his hands on his apron before shaking hands; in total shock while also pleasantly surprised to see  John standing before him which meant that this poor man had bought himself a decent meal. He quickly pushed back the question of how the beggar had found his way downtown; realizing that people in this situation were city-contained nomads who mainly traveled a pedestrian’s tedious journey. Any suspicious reservations that Donny may have had about John were now gone because he knew that this man had nearly worn himself out to simply live a dream that the majority thought commonplace and took for granted on a regular basis. Elated that he had once again made John’s day brighter, he also told the beggar that his dinner was on the house.  If this dude can come in here willing to pay for his shit, I’ll be damned if I ain’t gonna bless him some kinda way! Donny’s religious upbringing mixed with his somewhat negative everyday outlook did not hinder him from being charitable.

“Ain’t this a surprise! Did you walk all the way down here? If so, then all I can do is thank you by lettin’ you have that dish on the house, man. You didn’t have to come back here just to compliment me… everybody deserves a good meal.”

“Well I shore do thank’ya! Hell, if I’d known you cooked like that, I’d be settin’ out there upside that Walmart beggin’ for leftovers…I don’t think Id’n ever had nothin’ that good b’fore! They both laughed at John’s joke.

“Actually John, that can be arranged. I’m gonna remember this the next time I see you in the hood. You oughta be able to catch a bus now that you don’t have to pay for dinner, so be safe once you get outta here. Ready for the tour?”

Donny had no problem showing the ragged man what he did for a living while also explaining that he was an aspiring writer to which John actually encouraged Donny to follow his dream. Their discussion was friendly and John was sincerely interested in what Donny told him. It gave him a sense of who this guy really was. Gathering this information would also benefit his investigative endeavors.

The two men laughed and shook hands again. John already knew the chef’s name, but he asked again. He felt that Donny was a genuine soul. However, he still had to do what he came to do.

The tour was a brief one, but it had allowed him to carry out his mission in both the kitchen as well as the office. Surveillance would be no problem, and all of his plans would be put into motion by tonight’s performance.

In their own separate existences,  John and Donny had a feeling of satisfaction once the night was done. They had both done their jobs, while also sharing the same comforting feeling of accomplishment due their expertise despite neither of them knowing the full truth about each other – especially on Donny’s end.

Upon returning back to his shack in the woods,  John made a quick call to simply say, “Done.”

**

Later that night after closing, Donny came home to wait for Linda to return from taking Brianne back to Sheralyn’s house. It did not take long for her to return and she was in a good mood. She made drinks for the both of them while Donny rolled an ample joint. Over several drinks and one more smoke, they discussed the events of Linda’s day with their baby as well as Donny’s evening with surprise as well as some unexpected excitement.

Linda had said that she was proud of Donny for keeping his brother in line, both of them knowing if these two ever actually engaged in a real fight that Donny would more than likely be the winner, but she was so happy that everything went well with the special. Linda’s inward thoughts about Donny and Derrick fighting were outwardly expressed by a long and seemingly uncontrollable laugh at the mental picture that had emerged in her mind. Donny knew that it was simply because she was high and ended up laughing with her. “Yeah, you right baby…his ass would be grass!”

The couple also discussed Donald’s absence which happened more and more each week. “You know my dad…ain’t no tellin’ what kinda mess he’s into – probably some ratched female again, but who cares…I did my thang!” Linda promptly agreed just before the subject of John’s appearance at ‘Robertson’s’ came into the conversation. Linda laughed as Donny repeated John’s jokes in his mocking accent. They both agreed that they now knew where the money that they had given John had been spent on, and for that, Linda was glad that their beggar had a nice day which they had contributed to. They both went to bed wondering what their next visit with John would be like.

***

Donald had made his deposit at the bank and sped home to get to his office. He could not be late for this call, nor for dinner. He seriously was not in the mood for Jesse’s questioning him about why he was always so late coming home when the boys were the main ones running the restaurant nowadays. Knowing that his wife was prone to a reaction of suspicion, he would simply tell her that everything was alright and that he’d had more business to take care of than usual and that everything at ‘Robertson’s’ was just fine.

As usual, he ate his dinner and talked with his wife until she was ready to take her meds and go to bed. With a sigh of relief, Donald realized that he was actually on time and went quickly to the bonus room which was conveniently upstairs; set off and away from their bedroom. Derrick only came back to use his old bedroom (which was also upstairs) when he needed money, to talk about business, or to vent his frustrations about his brother. He had not needed any money lately because Donald had raised his salary yet again, trying to ease Derrick’s frustrations which came from living above his means, but his father did not care. As long as Derrick did as he was told, he had no qualms about the boy’s behavior. Every young man needs to sow his wild oats is what Donald always told Derrick and he obeyed this command religiously.

Now settled in his office with the privacy that he so needed, Donald made a phone call. “Is this a good time for you?” Upon a positive answer from the receiver of this call, the awaited discussion began.

“Well…now that’s out-of-the-way, what kind of news do you have for me tonight. I need to know if we’re making progress because it’s time to get the ball rollin’. The money’s ready so I just need to know when you are, and it better be soon.”

“Sir, these things take time. I have to work my way up to – ”

“I don’t want to hear anything more about time! Time is something that we are running out of! I am not paying you to work your way up do a damn thing. You are getting paid to do exactly what I tell you, so maybe you should rephrase whatever you were about to say.” Everyone that Donald knew was familiar with his pushy attitude. His wife, children, and business partners alike. He did not accept ‘no’ very well as an answer to anything.

“Well, alright sir. My plan was to speak with her again on next week, because she did sound hopeful and agreed to speak with me again, but I guess Friday would be more to your liking. I’ll make my proposal on that day and see how she reacts, but you’ve got to understand the other aspect of the situation. If you are expecting more from this, it will take some time. Please believe me when I say that I have a good plan in mind.”

Donald was somewhat calmed by the explanation. “Now that’s better. Yes…Friday sounds much better…right on time in fact. I’ll make sure that the checks are written up for you so that next week, everything will be in motion and I assume that you know what to do about the other.”

“Yes sir…don’t worry, I have everything under control.”

With a short condescending laugh, Donald answered, “Well that’s where you’re wrong Steve. I, Donald Robertson have everything under control and the plan that you speak of is actually my plan, so I would be much obliged if you would keep that in mind from this day forward. All you need to do is be ready with your briefcase, your nice suit paid for by me, and your wavy-ass hair. Understood?”

Steve’s answer was a simple – ‘yes sir’ before they both hung up. Donald leaned back in his swivel chair while twirling an ink pen, smiling in satisfaction to what would occur in the near future. She’ll go for it…I’ll bring the trashy side out of that bitch yet. What are you gonna do then son? Haha…you’ll do exactly what I say, that’s what you’ll do. 

Donald’s thoughts followed him to bed where he found his wife sleeping as soundly as always. The coming weekend would go as he commanded, they would attend church as usual, and all else would soon fall into place. He laid down and let out a comforting sigh just when the telephone by his bedside rang. “What the hell…hello?”

The voice on the other end made Donald freeze. He thought his heart would stop right then and there while propped on one elbow.

“Why, hello dear father…your precious illegitimate daughter is back in town and can’t wait to see you.”

“Chelsea?”

“Of course it’s me daddy! You know, the one who was never allowed to live anything except what you demanded? Yep, I’m the one – unless there’s another one out there somewhere, but the one you’re speaking to now is Chelsea – glad to be talking to you again. You haven’t forgotten me have you? Of course you haven’t, you just wished you could, but that won’t be happening. Anyway, you’ll be seeing me soon…but I won’t be setting up an appointment with you like everyone else apparently has to, so let’s just say that I’ll see you on – whenever.”

Donald slammed the cordless so hard

on its receiver that Jesse stirred in her sleep. He assured her that he’d knocked the phone down while reaching over to put his glasses on the nightstand. Donald’s wife turned over and went back into her deep slumber while he stared at the ceiling in astonishment. This cannot be happening, but it is. “I’ll take care of this too.” Donald quietly made the statement to himself before drifting off to sleep…not so much at ease now.

 

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Aside

Continual Resort| Part 4 – ‘Sunny Days’|Free Write Friday Prompt

Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday prompt (from last week – I’m late ) was very helpful in giving me a nice twist to add to the story which will come up later, so for the fourth installment of Continual Resort, I am bringing in this new character – John…here goes!

‘Sunny Days’

walmart-man

walmart-man

“Hey Mom!” Linda had  already called Sheralyn on her cell to let her know that she was around the corner and would be pulling up into the driveway. Sheralyn always made sure that she had her car port door unlocked for her daughter’s prompt arrival. Linda was happily greeted by her mother and two-year-old Brianne who waddled towards her ‘ma-ma’ in excitement with arms raised in contemplation of being picked up, hugged, and kissed. The three of them made their way to the kitchen table where Linda and her mother had their usual heart-to-hearts about nothing in particular most of the time unless they happened to be taking a trip down memory lane wondering about what had become of Stanley, but this type of conversation did not take place often. They would both end up saddened by the issue of not having the benefit of ‘knowing’, so usual day talk consisted of how Brianne was progressing with learning her colors, animal names, and anything else that would put a smile on their faces – especially when Sheryl was present with her sarcastic yet hilarious sense of humor. Sheryl and Linda both knew that Sheryl’s jokes were often the product of a broken heart in the process of finding a way – any way possible to heal from her own painful existence.

Thoughts of the past always managed to hang over their heads like a giant weeping willow branch that could not be lifted at least until some distraction – funny or not came along to change the scenery.

“Coffee’s ready…here you go.” Linda accepted the hunter green coffee mug from her mother who then set her own mug on the table before sitting directly across from her daughter.  “Well, I was thinking about getting my ends clipped today, but I think that I’ll just let it try to grow out a little more.” Linda took care of her mother and sister’s hair. She had received her license from the Missouri State Board of Cosmetology two years earlier and was working at a local strip mall salon a few miles shy of the apartment complex that she lived in with Donny. It did not take long for Linda to build up a nice clientele with her first customers being her mother and sister. After a year of working at ‘Sweet Styles’, Linda’s following had grown due to her passion for her craft and her knack for keeping herself current with the latest trends in technical skills. She had been able to attend several of the educational shows that had come to Kansas City and she always made sure that she had enough money saved up each year for any continuing classes on haircuts, styling, or equipment that would help keep up her clients’ word of mouth praise around town which regularly brought in new customers.

Sheralyn kept her own supply of products at her house because she rarely visited the salon. Linda’s work week span went from Tuesday to Friday, because she always took off on Saturdays for her mom knowing that she would be bringing her baby back home with her for the rest of the weekend. By her not having to style her mother’s hair on this particular Saturday, she would have some extra time to make a full day with Brianne. She couldn’t wait to take her shopping for snacks, a new outfit, and the toy of the toddler’s choice.

Linda lightly bumped Brianne on her knee as the happy child nibbled on a post-breakfast snack of animal crackers. “Well in that case, I don’t have to break out my new shears. I just bought some new ones last week…can’t wait to use’em.” Sheralyn smiled at her daughter knowing that she had such drive towards being successful in the beauty industry that the young woman could almost taste it. This middle-aged mother felt such a sense of pride in having been able to work her way up to not needing government help that she vowed to herself that when the time came for Linda to branch off into creating her own business, she would be there to help her come hell or high water. They had been through so much and she could clearly see that Linda was doing her best to create a better life for her child that it did not move Sheralyn by having to keep Brianne through the week so that Linda could work at the salon. The daycare center that she had found for her granddaughter was nearby and had a good reputation. Brianne’s time at daycare fit perfectly alongside her ten-year job as the current head custodian of the high school in the same area as the daycare. Sheralyn made sure that she saved most of her income tax returns to live comfortably during the summer although she still worked at the school through the majority of summer months. Her frugality over the years when her children were young had taught her well in the art of saving so that her now small but quaint home could be paid for.

Both women realized that the dream of Linda’s salon may be far off, but they still had faith that this dream would become a reality.

While they talked, Sheralyn made herself a salad for lunch. She assured Linda that she needed nothing from the store and that she could begin her day with ‘Annie’ as she called her rambunctious grand baby. Once their casual conversation was done;  Brianne announced her readiness to ‘ride wit ma-ma’, so Linda gathered her baby’s bag and they headed off to Walmart which was directly across from the strip mall.

She loved the freedom of having a large enough clientele which allowed her to pay a weekly booth fee as opposed to working on a commissioned basis like she did in the beginning. She could work any day that she pleased and take off just the same. They stopped by the salon to speak to her co-workers who always seemed to be glad to see the baby before they made their way across the parking lot to enter Walmart. Linda found a red and white polka dot short set and picked up some chips and juice packs to go with their sandwiches for lunch.  Brianne picked out a small wading pool as she always did at the start of summer.

Linda also picked up a pack of smoked turkey slices, cheese, and some fruit as well as the usual jug of orange juice. She would not have a drink until Brianne had played enough to fall fast asleep shortly after her bath that night.

During their little weekend shopping excursions, they always passed by the same man who would be sitting quietly in front of the store. He would speak to her and say ‘Hi, cutie’, and ‘Bye, cutie’ to Brianne as they made their way in and out of the store, but Linda made it a point to come out with at least two dollars to give him before she left. She maintained this ritual in remembrance of the hard time her parents had caring for their family until Sheralyn had found a job as a janitor.

The man at the store would thank Linda for the small amount of cash as usual and they would be on their way, but this time was different. He did wait until they came out of the store, but he actually had a question for Linda just after she handed him his two dollars. “You know miss, I wanna thank you for what’cha do fer’me every week. It ain’t yer job to be handin’ me money like that, but an old coot like me thinks that it’s mighty nice of’ya! You’re such a sunny lil lady, so I just wannid ta know – how’s life been treatin’ya?” At the very moment that he asked, he removed his shades and gave her a piercing look. His eyes were pools of green curiosity accompanied by a serious look while awaiting her answer.

Linda had her bags in one hand while holding Brianne’s hand with the other. She was completely taken aback by this change of events. He had never asked her anything. She didn’t even know his name for goodness’s sake! However, her mind went to the fiasco that had triggered Donny’s angry outburst the night before, but she was definitely not going to spill her guts to this perfect stranger regardless of how courteous he was. Why was he looking at her that way?

“Oh…well, life’s been treating me just fine…by the way, did I ever get your name?” He answered with a smirk and a nod…”Aw, yeah…the name’s uh – John. You and the lil one can call’me John, yeah…that’s what’the name is.” He smiled and then looked down at his feet which were tapping a rhythm as if to unheard music. “You sure life’s been treatin’ ya okay girl?” Linda was speechless for a moment at his repeated question, but at Brianne’s yell, “SHUN,” Linda stuttered a bit before uttering, “Oh, yeah…I’m – I mean – we’re doing fine. I’m getting ready for a fun day with my baby today, so I’d better be going now.” “Yep, today is fun day fer ya. Make sure that it’s a real good’ern too girl.” John made a funny face at Brianne which made her giggle a bit before Linda walked off; trying not to look as if she was in a hurry to get away. The baby waved at him…Linda turned as she walked away to see John’s big smile as he too waved back at them.

Aside

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