Julie, of Story A Day, gave us the prompt of writing a Cinderella story.
by Marian Allen
If only Gene hadn’t died. Gene was the best boss, ever, even if he did call me Esmerelda, when my name is Grace. Said he called all the night counter girls at the Lowtown cleaners “Esmerelda” because they never stayed long enough for him to learn their names.
I stayed, though. It wasn’t so tough, until Gene died. Rough neighborhood, sure, especially after dark. Not many people brought their clothes to the cleaners down here. When they did, the clothes were the best quality. Bloodstains, mostly. If they said they didn’t know what the stain was, it was probably vomit. We did good work, and they tipped big, the few clients we had.
Sometimes they asked me out. Sometimes they actually meant on a date. I never took them up on it, though. Gene always said business and pleasure don’t mix.
Like this one regular. He said people called him Feathers because he had about a million hats and they all had feathers in the brim, but the name on his cleaning tickets was Thomas Eddlington. He kept inviting me to come be one of his girls, but I always said, “Then who’ll clean your fancy clothes?” After a while, he started calling me Little Sister and warning me away from all the other guys.
Then Gene died and his widow inherited the business. Bitch. None of the workers ever did like her. She was always finding fault, even if she had to look hard and make stuff up. You know the type. Gene was crazy about her, though, so we were nice to her for his sake.
After Gene died, she dropped services to the locations: No wi-fi for the workers, no free coffee and oatmeal like Gene had kept stocked. But that stuff wasn’t important. No biggie. What ticked us off was that she dropped the housecleaning service, so we had to do the sweeping and dusting and empty the trash and stuff like that. Again, no biggie in Lowtown, where we were never very busy, but it was hard on the workers at the high-traffic locations. What was hard on us at Lowtown was when she dropped the Rent-A-Cop. We needed security, especially at night.
For a while, I managed by pretending the guard was in the back whenever somebody sketchy came in. I’d yell, “It’s okay, Frank! I know this guy!”
Eventually, though, I got grins when I did that, and I knew that wasn’t going to work.
I got robbed three times in six months. Two guys and one chick. They pulled guns, I handed over the cash, they left. I called the cops and gave full descriptions. Identified them in lineups. They got off with warnings.
Mrs. Gene accused me of being in on it with them, but she couldn’t fire me, because I was the only employee who would work that night shift in Lowtown.
Why would I? First, because I’ve always been a nightowl. I like to sleep late and go to bed when most people are turning over for one last dream. I like the way the sidewalks glitter in the streetlights. The cockamamie shadows from multiple light sources knock me out. Even in Lowtown, where there’s a lot of activity at night, you get a lot of quiet. Then tires hiss or footsteps echo, and you really feel like there’s a person out there, you know? Not just people, but persons, if you get what I mean.
But so then, the location started getting hit during the day, and people quit and nobody would hire on or, if they did, they didn’t stay long.
Next thing I knew, I got a letter from Mrs. Gene’s lawyer saying she was selling out — all the locations, not just Lowtown.
I got another letter, saying the chain had been bought by New Enterprise, LLC.
Two nights later, Thomas Eddlington came in, wearing a three-piece suit, no hat, and a major grin. He pulled a business card out of his wallet and slid it across the counter.
Thomas Eddlington, CEO, New Enterprise, LLC.
“Surprise, Little Sister! Meet your new boss. Decided to get legit.”
“Cleaning clothes and laundering money?”
He shook his head. “You don’t know a thing about laundering money, Little Sister. Right?”
“And there won’t be any more robberies, so you can stop worrying about that.”
“Ah,” I said.
“What do you mean, ‘Ah’?”
“I started to sneeze,” I said. “Ah-choo.”
“You’re the manager here, now,” he said. “‘Cause you got seniority. You want a different shift? You want to move to a different location?”
“I guess I like it here,” I said. “I like this shift.”
He stuck out his hand, and we shook on it.
So we don’t need security, but Mr. Eddlington contracted for housekeeping and maintenance. One of the maintenance guys is pretty cute and sweet. He asked me out, and I might just go, if only Mr. Eddlington approves. It’s nice, having a boss I can depend on again.
MY PROMPTS TODAY: Something bad for you, something good for you, something Meh, for you.