A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2016 Karen Lockhart
Fearing the worst, I ran outside without a jacket up to the driver's door of the cruiser. The trooper inside was slumped to his side with his head back. I opened the door and touched his shoulder. Suddenly he woke up thrashing a bit and demanded who I was.
I told him I was the woman who would have him counting squirrels in Adams, if anything happened to Tina.
I told him Tina had gone to her Andover house for a few things, and I didn't know long she was gone, but she said she'd be back to her apartment sometime today.
I suggested he let Captain Smith know what happened, but first call to have a trooper from the Andover barracks shoot over to Tina's house right away.
I was shivering, so I went back inside. The trooper was panic-struck as he made the radio calls. I filled Ellen on what had gone on, and she smirked,”Bet we'll be able to hear Pete from in here when he speaks with that guy.”
She started laughing, “What was it you said, the trooper's next job would be, 'counting squirrels in Adams'?” Ellen wiped the tears away, ”How did you ever think of that?”
“In another life, someone once said that to me or should I say, Gene. I've been dying to use that line myself ever since.”
We wasted no more time and drove to the project in Lynn. We were there first, so I got out and opened the security gates, while Ellen drove to the trailer, and unlocked the door.
Before I had a chance to climb the stairs the first of many pickup trucks entered and parked.
It looked like the form crew was there before 8 o'clock! Ellen must have really pinned the foreman's ears back yesterday.
I started the coffee maker while Ellen looked over the plans on form placement and rebar spacing. Nothing special there except being two weeks behind schedule. With good weather, we'd make it up that week,
Two weeks after the foundation was poured, we could get started with the block walls and brick veneer. That would be the time to have the electricians there to run conduit and set the junction boxes in the walls.
Things were starting to hum, somewhere I knew Steve Brady was smiling.
Once the early flourish died down I sat with Ellen to talk about show clothes for me for the April show just three weeks away.
“Ginny this is a little short notice, but Paul set you up with show boots before Christmas. We ought to take a ride out there this afternoon to see what he has in stock. Cathy is letting you use her black chaps, she won't need them this show, but we should get you a pair of your own sometime, sooner rather than later.”
“Aren't those awfully hot in the summer?” I asked her, “I'll sweat away to nothing.”
That got Ellen laughing,” If they were leather, yes, but all the new chaps are made from a material called Ultra-suede. They can even be washed!”
She paused a bit, “I have to ask, you started off with $50,000 of Vinny's money, Steve's been paying you $500 per week, I don't charge rent, but have you cook and buy the groceries. Now how much money do you have left over after Colorado, and the surgery and stay in Thailand? Enough to buy show clothes and a saddle outfit?”
She obviously was embarrassed asking me, so I showed no mercy. I put my head down and made my shoulders shake a little. Ellen stood up and came over to me. As she did, I threw back my head and laughed.
“You little minx, “ she shouted, “See if I worry about your money again.”
“Sorry, I couldn't resist it, Ellen. Actually, I have most of what Steve has paid me from the beginning. The Thailand trip and surgery cost about $38,000. I spent $2000 on clothes, another $500 on ID papers, leaving almost $9000 in the bank from the original money.”
Steve's take home pay comes to $500 a week. I paid back into the original money the cost of the Honda CR/V; that was $6500. so $500 per week times 48 weeks, minus $6500 leaves me with $14,000 in cash. Is that enough?”
Ellen laughed, “I forgot how you did math like that in your head Ginny. Figure $500 for clothing. Then I'm sure Cathy's network can find a good silvered up saddle for you for $2000, so you'll be set for this year. Your big expenses will be show costs and finally leasing or buying a horse. You don't know where more of those trucks are parked do you?”
My jaw dropped, “It costs that much to show a horse? How do people afford it?”
“Simple, they have a lot of it to spend on their wives and children. The only person at a show making $500 per week is a Mexican groom, and some of them make more than that.”
“Now that Vinny's out of the picture, how will Tina afford it?”
“Tina's mother came from a wealthy family. When she died, a lot of money was left just to Tina for college, and showing horses. This money was protected from Vinny so it's still there. Let's take a walk around, and check how things are coming along."
We closed up the office and yard by 4 PM, and headed for Andover and Paul's tack shop.
Arriving at just before five, we had plenty of time to browse the racks. When Paul saw us, he ran up giving Ellen and I a big kiss, asking what he could find for us. Ellen explained I was going to show Western and needed some show outfits. Paul looked at me and beamed, “See, I said those boots would work out, Now, one piece or two?” he asked.
I had no idea of what Paul was talking about, I knew it wasn't fried chicken, so I asked.
Ellen and Paul laughed, “A one-piece suit, like a space suit or pants and blouse separate.” Paul answered.
“Paul.” Ellen said, “Ginny is on a budget, so separates make more sense, and she can wear the blouse with tight jeans and boots and drive the guys crazy.”
He asked the color of the chaps and when Ellen said black, he grinned, “Perfect, perfect, I'll dig up some black riding pants and we can match any color blouse, The hat's black, I assume.”
Humming to himself, he bustled back and forth between racks of clothes. Soon a stack of brightly colored fabric covered the shop. Paul handed me a pair of Robin's egg blue slacks and pointed to the changing room. After a minute he tossed another pair over the door, saying, “Try these too hun.”
I pulled on the first pair, and smiled, a perfect fit ! The second pair was a little loose in the seat, but not bad. Soon the pair outside were clamoring "Show us, you know nothing." I came out in the second, looser pair first. This was met with frowns.
“Go back and put on the blue ones now.” Paul said.
Like the good clothes form I am, I did, and these brought smiles to their faces. Paul laughed, “I know what I'm doing, now two pairs in black. Here's the fun part - the tops; look at the colors, a rainbow in gold and silver too."
I tried on top after top, some with buttons and a crotch piece, some with a zipper.
We agreed on four tops; the first was red and black checks with a rope-like border in gold, the next two were identical but in different colors, one teal and black, the other in solid red with black piping. The fourth top was medium blue and red flecks throughout the fabric. I asked about the crotch straps. Ellen said this keeps them from riding up and allows the shirt to be really tight.
The damage to my bank account was moderate. The tops were $100 each and the bottoms were $80 each and made my bum look great. $560 total, not too bad.
We were ravenous after all the shopping, so decided to stop in the Outback Restaurant on Route 114. This was half-way home, so we both had drinks to relax from the stress of shopping. Is there any such thing for women?
We split a blooming onion for an appetizer, I had a large Gin and Tonic with a twist and Ellen decided on a Beefeater Martini. I felt a little carnivorous after the shopping, so ordered a steak, medium with a twice baked potato and asparagus. Ellen smiled and ordered the same except medium-well on the steak. We both ordered Caesar salads.
She and I talked about going to the horse show in West Springfield while waiting for the salads. We agreed to bring most of the onion home for tomorrow. After the salads, we had another drink and in no time our steaks appeared.
I realized why we were so hungry. We forgot about lunch! After promising ourselves not to that again, we pondered the desert menu. I decided on a baked Alaska and Ellen ordered Strawberry Cheese Cake.
We ended up with quite a large doggie bag,(a doggie bag is for taking home left-overs) of steak and most of the onion for home.
After carrying my new purchases upstairs, we flopped on the sofa and watched some TV. The next day was Friday, then riding lessons on Saturday.
After the early news was over, I started into my room with my new outfits Then a funny thought hit me, what kind of jewelry would I wear? After carefully hanging the clothes up, I removed my makeup. Waiting my turn in the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash the day's grime from my face, Ellen suddenly turned to me and said we hadn't heard from Tina all day.
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