43 - The Other Problem

Submitted by Ken Watts on Wed, 02/21/2007 - 09:25
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After I cleaned everything—especially well—I put the detailed recipes for the new menu on a clipboard in the kitchen, where they couldn't miss them.

I changed into some street clothes, and left Alfred's uniform hanging where I'd first seen it. The delivery truck pulled up, outside, and I hurried, locking up, because I didn't want Julie to come investigating.

It was raining, not a storm, but steadily—enough to get you wet. I had to laugh. It was the first rain since the night I had arrived.

Mazie waved from the truck, looking weary, but glad to have company for the long ride home.

"Come on! Let's get going!"

I ran around the front of the truck and jumped in beside her. The whiff of oil and metal carried a sense of adventure. I could feel the springs through the upholstery.

"Thanks, Mazie."

I had to yell over the engine.

She nodded, and yelled back.

"You all set?"

"Yeah."

She backed the truck around, the gears whining a little, and shifted into low. I glanced at the house. The only light on was in the kitchen. Julie, doing the books. It made me remember something.

"Damn. No—wait."

Mazie stopped the truck.

"What is it?"

My goodbye note was still in my pocket.

"Keep the motor running." I yelled.

I jumped out of the cab and ran, as quietly as I could, to the house.

I eased in the front door, and stood still for a moment, letting my eyes adjust to the dark. I decided the mantle was a good place. I slipped across the room, banging a shin on the couch and stifling a little grunt of pain.

I propped the note against a brass Santa Claus, and found my eyes had adjusted better. I had no trouble seeing my way out.

My hand was on the knob when I heard Julie crying.

I kept my hand where it was. Mazie was waiting outside. It was time to move on.

But she kept right on crying.

This is another problem in my line of work. Sometimes leaving is a little difficult for me, as well as for them. You just have to steel yourself, for everyone's good.

I slipped over to the kitchen door, and opened it a crack. There she was, back to me, head down on the bookkeeping, her bare, thin shoulders shaking. I took a deep breath and backed away from the door.

* * * * *

Mazie was writing on her clipboard when I jumped into the cab. She looked up, and stuffed it down next to her seat.

"All set?"

I took one more glance at the house.

"Yeah. Let's go."

She jammed it back into first, and let the clutch out.

The rain pounded on the windshield.