The last blog post was the original homework assignment I had been given and I called it The Mysterious Man. I have decided to turn this into a Novella with the title of Dream Walkers. The following is the re-write and first chapter….
“Woof, woof.“ sounded softly in the house, waking Peggy.
“What? What’s the matter Girl Friend” she said, trying to wake up. She does her best to focus at Girl Friend, her small Morkie looking up at from the floor beside her bed.
“Do you need to go out and potty? ” Glancing at the bedside clock and a brightly lit 4:00 A.M. “Lord, that is bright.” she said as she turned her head quickly away. As she thought, “Wow, she let me sleep. I didn’t know I was that tired.”
Sitting up in bed, her feet touched the cold wood floor as they sought her slippers, and her hand was reaching for her robe to put on. It would be cool outside and the weather report last night said winds at 15-25 MPH. There was no way she was taking Girl Friend out without something on over her PJs.
“Come on Girl Friend, let’s go outside so you can go potty.” Finally dressed with slippers and robe, Peggy whispered to Girl Friend, who had been waiting patiently.
As soon as the word ‘outside’ left Peggy’s lips, Girl Friend ran off to stand by the door. “Hold on, Girl Friend, I’m moving as fast as I can.” Peggy said to the little Morkie. Who now is sitting by the door, giving Peggy room to open it, quivering with anticipation?
Girl Friend’s excitement flowed through to Peggy, causing a giant grin to cross her face as she looked down at her. She unlocked the door and barely had it open when Girl Friend dashed out the narrow opening. “No bark!” Peggy spoke after her little dog as she looked at the neighboring houses, some were still dark and silent which shouted to her they were still sleeping. She didn’t need any complaints from the neighbors about Girl Friend’s barking at 4 in the morning. Not good for relationships.
Grabbing the flashlight kept stored by the door just for these early morning occasions, she turned it on rather than the backyard light. When she used to use the backyard light, she got complaints that it shown through the neighbors’ windows and woke them up. So her back-up plan was the flashlight. It didn’t mean she hadn’t muttered to herself when they came over with their complaint, “Then get better curtains!” She didn’t have the courage to say what she wanted to say.
As she stepped out, she kept the flashlight on the ground but looked to sky. It always impressed her with its beauty.
“Yip, Yip, Woof, Woof“ had Peggy running and saying forcefully to Girl Friend, “No, bark. It’s way too early. Come on, Girl, be quiet.” But Girl Friend kept at it. Picking up her walking stick she used when they walked the neighborhood or hiked, tapping it on the ground she said “Inside, now. No Bark. Inside.” Lifting her arm wide with the stick, Girl Friend quit barking. Using it as if she were sweeping the air with the stick, she herded Girl Friend into the house. “Good girl, that’s my good girl.“ Peggy said as she followed her towards the door of her house. Feeling the hair raise on the back of her neck, she stopped just before going in. Turning, she looked back. What she saw held in place for a few seconds. Frozen, blocking the door, “What is that? Who are you? Quit hiding in the shadows come out where I can see you.” Peggy said. There was no response, so she said, “I can tell you are a man, and yes your taller, but where did you get the contacts that make your eyes glow.” There was still no response other than his hands reaching out to her. The hair on the back of her neck had gone back to normal, she’s able to discern more of him. He looks like he’s around 7 feet tall, huge with long hair. “I’m not afraid of you and I will not let me touch me so keep your hands to yourself. And get out of my yard.” Peggy yelled, forcing herself to move quickly through the door, slamming it shut, locking it, then sinking to the floor as she shook with fear. Girl Friend came to her, whimpering, trying to climb into her lap, and lick her face with doggy comfort.
Picking Girl Friend up and hugging her close, Peggy wondered out loud, “What was that? Where did it come from?“ She finally stood up, the whole time telling herself, “You got this girl. You can do it.“ Moving cautiously to the window, she pulled the curtain back far enough so she could see, but hopefully whoever was out there wouldn’t be able to see her. “Girl Friend, this is just crazy. I can’t see anyone. Not even a big man, much less one with glowing eyes. You know a young lady,“ she said to Girl friend as she lifted her up to eye level. “I must have been dreaming. Something like what I saw would leave something behind. Or, I’m sure, stay to take advantage of us being by ourselves.”
She knew that where she lived in the White Mountains of Arizona there have been several sightings of UFOs, even a reported abduction by aliens years ago. But nothing that anyone owned to right now. And there was nothing about contact with any other worlds–heavens, she knew that they had only reached the moon, landed on it over 50 years ago. And they had launched spaceships to other planets in the galaxy with no one on them… that was all common knowledge. Nowhere, no news reports or information anywhere that we had contacted another planet. So, where did this guy come from?
The scary part she knew was if she indiscriminately shared this with anyone, it would ruin her life. The Paparazzi would make her life hell. Not to mention the people that would make fun of her, it would ruin her business.
But she couldn’t get over the feeling that whoever, whatever, it was she saw, had been beseeching her–reaching out to her for something. She never got the sense that he meant to her harm her… and her fear, she knew, was from the suddenness and the strangeness of him. Did she imagine it? Was he really reaching out to her in a pleading gesture? Surely, it was just her imagination.
ever left her. She kept going back to them repeatedly. Like a vinyl record with a skip in it and the needle keeps going back to the same spot. She turned and looked at the clock, realizing it was time to get up and get ready for work and shook her head as if to clear it from what it had been thinking. She went into her room, got her uniform out for the day, dressed, did all the daily grooming she normally did. Then moved back to the kitchen to get breakfast then decided against it, she was going just grab something from the local coffee drive through and eat it at work.
Before she left, she unlocks the doggy door for Girl Friend, double checks that there is enough food and water set out for her to last her until she gets home that night. She picks up Girl Friend, gives her a hug, accepting her licking kisses, sat her down and said, “Now be a good girl while I’m gone and I’ll bring a treat home for you.” Putting Girl Friend down, Peggy grabs her purse, verifying she has her cell phone and keys. She heads out the door.
Getting in her car, she pulls her phone out and set it in the spot she kept in while driving, the front cup holder, and clicked on her music app. When she turns the car on the music came full blast out of the care sound system. She jumps a little, not remembering how loud she had the volume set. On her way to La Pierre’s Confectionery, where she worked, she stopped the Java Cup to get her coffee and on impulse grabbed a box of chocolate-dipped donut holes; she knew was a favorite of her staff.
“Hey, Peggy, what’s up? You seem pretty distracted. I mean, you brought coffee with you and someone else’s baked goods. Totally not you.” Said Jimmy Labo, her baking assistant.
“No, I’m fine, Jimmy. Just a little tired. Girl Friend had me up in the wee hours this morning. So what does Chef Brian have lined up for us day? Any special orders or requests?”
“Yes, he gave me list of things, here it is.” Jimmy hands her the list, then continues, “He said that a Mrs. Dana Curtis would like a sit-down with you for her daughter’s upcoming wedding reception to she wants held here in the Gold Ball Room. Her phone number is at the bottom of that list.” Peggy nodded her understanding.
“Wow. Not bad. This should be fairly easy. Did you happen to have started any of the prep work for the things on this list? Let’s see, two Cherry’s Jubilee, 20 Apple Sour Cream tart lets, 3 dozen Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls, 50 Chocolate Chip Scones, 25 Apple Spice Muffins and 25 Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins… boy, someone is really into chocolate today.”
“No, not yet. I got here about 10 minutes before you did. But I can get started on peeling the apples and pitting the cherries.” Jimmy said.
“That would be great, that will give me time to call Mrs. Curtis and set up an appointment with her. Did Chef said when these needed to be ready?”
“Yes, sorry, I thought I wrote it on that note. He said by 3 this afternoon.”
“That gives us plenty of time to get these done plus our regular specialty breads for the lunch and dinner crowds. Thanks, Jimmy.”
“You don’t have to thank me. Just doin’ my job.”
Peggy went to her office, a small closet more like, but it was hers. She relished that they recognized here her skills as a baker. She pulled her day runner out, clearing a spot on the top of the desk from all small clippings she had of favorite recipes she had yet to test on Chef and the owners to get approved for the menu. Picking up the phone and dials the number on the bottom of the paper Jimmy had given her. It kept ringing, she is about to give up, when someone finally picks up the phone saying, “Hello, Curtis residence.”
“This is Peggy McGinty, the Master Baker, from Le Pierre Confectionery. May I speak with Mrs. Dana Curtis, please?”
“This is she. Thank you for calling me so quickly. Is this about scheduling a time to get together to set and scheduling the reception?”
“Yes, I have time available at 1 pm, if you do, we can meet in the cafe, it will be empty as the restaurant will be in full swing. So we can discuss what we have available and all the details in private.” Said Peggy.
“That sounds perfect. However I won’t be alone, I’ll have my three years old grandson with me. I hope that won’t be a problem.” Said Mrs. Curtis.
“No, I like children. Like I said, the cafe will be empty so if he plays a little loudly it won’t disturb anyone. I’ll see you both at 1 pm.” Said Peggy.
“1 pm. See you then.” Said Mrs. Curtis.
Peggy got up and headed out to see what progress Jimmy had made with the specialty items for today and to make sure the other under-bakers were working on the regular specialty breads.
Peggy was taking the last batch of cookies out of the oven while Jimmy was putting the cooled ones away, when the pan slipped out of her hand as if someone pushed her from behind. She fell, Jimmy ran to her and grabbed her elbow keeping her from hitting the floor. Together they stood and looked at the last batch of cookies cooling on the floor. This meant she had to make another batch before she met with Mrs. Curtis. She was so tired from lack of sleep, the long day, and fighting to keep her mind on her job, not on what she thought she had seen this morning.
Jimmy looked at her and saw tears forming in her eyes, like any man he wasn’t sure how to handle this, they were friends in a fashion, not close enough to hug her while she cried though. So he started talking fast. “I know you have an appointment in 20 minutes, why don’t I make another batch of cookies while you pull everything together you need for your appointment. That way you can even take some cookies with you to let her see how good your baking is.”
Peggy blinked the tears back and gave him a watery smile. “Jimmy, thanks a million. I really appreciate it. I didn’t realize just how tired I am from Girl Friends exploits this morning. I’ll leave you to it.”
Going into her office, Peggy saw her notebook of pictures and prices for the various meals, wedding cakes, and other pastries they offer for wedding receptions. Now all she has to do is find the book with the prices for the table set ups and colors they offer for napkins, table clothes, plus the table decorations. And the other options like place cards, seat covers, etc. She starts out of her office when she remembers the booking calendar and order forms she will need.
As she walks toward the doors that led to the Cafe, she saw a small platter, beautifully decorated with cookies on it, two cups for coffee and 2 glasses of water for the client and herself. She went into the cafe, turned on a pot of coffee, then dashed back to the kitchen, grabbed the platter and three napkins, took them into the cafe, setting them on the table she where she had placed her books. She looks at her watch and see she still had a few minutes before Mrs. Curtis would be there. She took advantage of them by going to the Ladies Room and freshening up her appearance. Then she went to the entrance of the Cafe to wait for Mrs. Curtis and her grandson.
As she waited giving the impression she is watching for someone, but the memories from the night keep coming to her mind. Taking up every bit of her concentration until she felt a pinch on her arm. It cleared her mind enough that she recognizes the elegantly dressed, older woman with a small boy carrying his backpack, walking next to her. She didn’t want him with her, because she kept him with her by holding his hand and if he didn’t keep up with her, she yanked on his hand to force him to jog to keep up with her. This had to be Mrs. Curtis. Peggy thought, “Boy, this doesn’t bode well, wonder how she’ll react if I say we can’t do something she wants.”
Her face showing a welcoming smile, not her thoughts, Peggy smilingly said, “Mrs. Curtis?” At her nod, Peggy said, “Why don’t we go this way.” directing her to the Cafe Entrance behind her.“I just made a fresh pot of coffee if you’d like some or there is some water,, plus some freshly baked cookies set up on the table we’ll be using.” Walking beside her, Peggy made her slow down so the little boy could catch up without being jerked forward by Mrs. Curtis’ hand. “Is this your grandson you mentioned?” Peggy asked.
“Yes, it is. I’m so sorry we’re late, I had to pick him up from his preschool and he didn’t want to leave.” Said Mrs. Curtis.
“What’s his name?”
“Robert, but we call him Bobby.” Mrs. Curtis said.
At her words, the little boy said emphatically, “Grandma, my name is Robert, and people should call me Robert, not Bobby.”
Peggy thought, “Wow, this little guy knows what he wants and speaks way better than any three-year-old I know.” As she said, “Hi Robert, my name is Peggy. If your grandmother approves, I have fresh-baked cookies ready, and you can have one or two. But only if she approves.”
As she finished speaking they are standing at the table. There was another table four feet away where Robert could sit. Gesturing to Mrs. Curtis to have a seat, she said, “Mrs. Curtis, there is a table next to us that Robert can sit at while we discuss the options and dates of the reception. I’m sure he has something in that backpack of his he can play with while we are busy.”
“How thoughtful. Thank you for thinking of this.” Mrs. Curtis said, then turning to Robert she said in a harsher tone, “Robert, go sit there and play.”
“Yes, grandma.” Robert said as he slowly moves over to the other table while his eyes are on the platter of cookies.
Peggy can see where he is gazing directly at and that this grandmother was oblivious to what he wanted. She said, “Mrs. Curtis, would you mind if I gave Robert two cookies and a glass of water, then we can get started?”
“Sure, even though I think he just had a snack at his preschool.” Peggy looked at him and he shook his head “no.”
She said nothing, just put some cookies on a napkin, picked up one glass of water, setting both down in front of the little one. She smiled at him as she turned and asked, “Mrs. Curtis, would you care for some coffee?”
“Yes, I would. Thank you.”
Peggy got the pot of coffee and brought it to their table, poured each of them a cup and set it down on a napkin. Sitting down she said, “Why don’t we start with the date you wanted. We need to first find out if it is available.” By now she felt like her face would crack from forcing a smile to her lips. The more she was around Mrs. Curtis, the more she felt she was not a nice person.
Picking up the big Calendar book, Peggy lays it on the table between them, so Mrs. Curtis can see just how busy their Gold Ballroom was while they look at the date she wants. “What is the date you have planned for your daughters reception?” Peggy asked. “She wanted Saturday, August 8th, this year.”
Flipping through the calendar until she comes to August, her finger runs down the page to the date and room. “I’m so sorry, nothing is available that day.’ Peggy quickly tried to defuse the horrendous situation that was coming based on the how red and angry Mrs. Curtis’ face looked.
Peggy Said, “We have another venue that is just as beautiful as the Gold Ballroom. It’s the Garden Room, I see here that we have two spots available on that date, and we can even walk through it today to show you just how lovely it is. Or if the wedding date isn’t firm yet, we can look at other dates for the Gold Ballroom. Or I can put you down on our waiting list for that day. We would contact you immediately if there is a cancellation that day.” She said. She could see Mrs. Curtis was getting more upset with every word she was saying. Evidently she didn’t like being told she couldn’t have the date she wanted. Her hands had clenched, and her face had turned red.
“No, I want that day. We’ve booked the church and the draft of the wedding invitations has gone to the printers. It has to be that day.”
“I’m sorry, as you can see we have a full load that day, three receptions. I can put your name and number down in case there is a cancellation…” just then Mrs. Curtis jumped up from her seat and dashed over to her grandson, Robert, grabbed him by the arm, yanked him out of his seat and slapped his face. “You don’t use your sleeve to wipe your mouth when you are through eating. Where are your manners!” she said.
It appalled Peggy. She knew Mrs. Curtis was using Robert as a whipping post since she couldn’t get her way. Peggy got up from her chair, walked over and pulled Mrs. Curtis’ hand from Robert’s arm. Red marks already appeared that matched his bright red cheek where she had struck him, showing how hard she had gripped him. Peggy said, “Mrs. Curtis, that is not a good reason for slapping his face. That was abuse. There is no excuse for hurting him like that.”
“You don’t know how bad he’s been today. He deserves more than a slap across the face.” Mrs. Curtis said.
“Well, not here, he doesn’t. If I find out you’ve hit him again, I’ll report you to social services and the police for child abuse.” Peggy said.
“What, why, you little bitch. How dare you say such a thing to me? Don’t you know who I am? I’ll take my money elsewhere!”
Peggy crosses her arms and looks calmly back at the raging woman and saying, “Why don’t you just do that. Take your money elsewhere.”
Mrs. Curtis grabs her grandson and strode out of the cafe. Peggy picked up all the cookies, glasses and coffee cups. Putting them with the dishes in the kitchen with the other dirty dishes in the kitchen where the dishwasher would take care of them. Then she went back and empty the coffee pot, set it up for the next shift and went back to her office. When she got there Martin, the manager, and the Chef were in her little office waiting for her. She could see the chef was in there because the room was so small only to have his body fit in it if there were two people trying to talk with her. It startled her to see the other person was Martin, the manager.
Coming to stand behind her desk, setting her items down, she motions for them to take a seat. Martin instead said, “What did you say to Mrs. Curtis? She came storming into my office, saying you insulted her and that if I didn’t fire you, she would take her daughter’s wedding reception some place else.”
“I just said…” Peggy started, when Martin cut her off with the
Chef nodding his head, he said. “You’re fired. No matter how rude our guests are, we cannot stoop to their level and be like them. It doesn’t matter what the provocation was. You were wrong. I won’t give you a recommendation, either. Take your things and go now.”
Both the Chef and manager left without a backward look.
Peggy sat down hard in her chair, thinking, “What just happened? I got fired. The first time in my life I got fired. Without an explanation, too.”
She went into the kitchen where they stored the boxes that today’s supplies came in, picked out one, took it to her office and started putting all her things into it. She really thought they appreciated her talents here, but obviously, they weren’t. She will go home, have a glass or two of wine and watch an old movie, that’s what she’d do. In her heart she felt like it was putting a band aid on an arterial wound. Too little, too late.
Peggy had a large box filled with all her things when Jimmy saw her. “Hey, Peggy, “What is going on? Why are you carrying all your stuff out in that box? Why is Chef Brian stomping around yelling at everyone and the manager is picking on the smallest thing?” “I just got fired, is why.” Peggy said.
“Why would they fire you? They love you.” Jimmy said.
“Because Mrs. Curtis said if they didn’t fire me she wouldn’t have her daughter’s wedding reception here. They wouldn’t let me tell them why she was so mad at me.” Peggy said. “It must have been bad.” Said Jimmy.
“First she got upset when I told her, “The Gold Ballroom is available that day, and but we would put her on our wait list, or switch venues to the Garden Room. Or – this was the worse thing to say – they could change the wedding date.”
That’s when she saw her three-year-old grandson wipe his mouth with his sleeve. Instead of yelling at me, she went over, grabbed his arm, yanked him out of his seat and slapped him across the face. I told her her frustration wasn’t a good enough reason to hurt him. And it went from that to me saying if I heard she had hurt him again I would call social services and the police. And her calling me a bitch. What I didn’t know was that she would go to Martin about it. Or to him she would still have the reception here if he fired me. She didn’t tell him I already booked the day, was already.”
“Wow. What are you going to do?”
“I’m going home, have a glass of wine, watch an old movie, then to bed with me. I’ll start looking tomorrow for a job tomorrow“ said Peggy..
Jimmy gave her a brief hug and went back into the kitchen while Peggy heads to her car and home. When she gets home, everything looks serene, just like when she came home every night. She got out of the car, gets her box, goes to the back door, to go in. She hadn’t realized, because the box was too full to see what was in front of her. When she put her key in the lock and turned the doorknob, water gushed out of the doorway almost knocking her off her feet. All she could do was think “Holy crap.”