A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2018 Karen Lockhart
About lunch-time my cell phone rang. Checking the caller ID, I saw it was Jean.
“Hey sexy, what's up?” I asked, “Are you still picking me up?”
“Yes, but if I show up early, we can send in applications for the Candy Cane Club. Remember, they have to be in the form of an email.”
Since the phone was on speaker, Ellen heard, and nodded her okay.
“Any time you want, Jean; just give it a hour before we need to leave for The Naked City. Okay then, I'll see you in a hour, drive safely.”
We knew when she arrived, all sounds of construction stopped, at least until she came inside!
After opening the office door, Ellen stood on the landing and shouted, “Haven't you animals seen a pretty girl before? Get back to work, or I'll hire an all woman crew. I don't pay you to look at the girls, I pay you to work!”
She re-entered the office grinning: “Jean, you just made their day.”
By now Jean had her coat off and was sitting at my laptop, starting the word program. I made three coffees and joined them.
Her dancing resume was only one page, the second page was a downloaded publicity photo of her slithering across the stage to a bowl of milk. Two clicks and it was sent on its way.
I was applying for the job of bartender, but had to include my gender history, including the little trip to Dr Phukit's clinic outside of Bangkok. I then listed the bar I worked at as Gene, in college, then my experience behind the bar at The Naked City in Peabody.
Jean assured me I had the job, and that the City would check with the lounge there. Two clicks later the die was cast, I had applied for a job in Quincy.
Somehow, I felt my life was going to change radically. Three o'clock came and Jean and I had to go; kissing Wendy and a quick hug for Ellen, we left.
I was quiet on the drive north and this made Jean ask if I was having second thoughts.
“What happens if I like working as a bartender there? My life will change; I'll hardly see Ellen, and almost never see Wendy. I love them like the family I never had. I'll make a ton of money, but I'm happy now.”
“Why don't we talk about this on the way home, honey. We need to go inside now,” Jean said.
A quick hug and a kiss and we went our separate ways, me to the bar and Jean to her dressing room.
Sue and Jim greeted me with “Why the long face, something wrong?”
I explained my ennui as I tied on my apron, but soon got busy pulling draft beers and opening long-necks. It looked like it would be that sort of night, no fancy cocktails, just a martini or gin and tonic once it a while.
This gave me time to mull over whether being a bookkeeper for Steve Brady or even a bartender here or at the Candy Cane is what I would be happier doing.
Soon the night was over; Jim gave me a huge hug and my tips envelope. Sue and I were teary, promising to keep in touch.
Jean started up the Mazda convertible, and sped north on to the highway.
“Well, feel like talking about it? Or do you want to wait?” she gently asked.
Taking a deep breath, I started with my insecurities and finished with my fears. I said Wendy needed her own room, but the condo only had two bedrooms. She couldn't be left alone all day, and would need to live with Ellen in our old one, or I needed to find a new condo with three bedrooms.
During this, Jean was silent. “Wow, you do have problems, but even if things stayed as they are, Wendy needs her own room. So a new apartment or condo is needed. Now, making $130,000 a year versus $40,000 is no choice. Not seeing the girls as much because you would be working nights is the only problem.
“You need to sit down with Ellen and Wendy too and talk things out. Between Ellen's salary, and your new income, you two have enough money to purchase anything. Don't forget, Wendy will be working soon, paying her way and saving money for whatever surgeries or HRT she wants.”
A fast cheek kiss, and a promise to talk tomorrow, and I went quietly inside, trying not to wake Wendy.
I left a note for Ellen saying I got home at 3am and would sleep in that day. I would greet them with a roast turkey dinner with all the fixings, even creamed onions with a little Burgundy added.
I woke up at 10am! Slowly doing my morning ablutions, I dressed in soft jeans and a sweatshirt. I made coffee, and hot oatmeal for breakfast.
Turning on NECN for news and weather, I read through the morning newspaper. At 11 o'clock, I found 'The Price is Right'. Drew Carey? What happened to Bob Barker?
After watching screaming men and women “coming on down” I wondered if the contestants realized they would owe taxes on their winnings.
Around 3:30 Ellen and Wendy arrived home. I think Wendy's nose proceeded her. The turkey was a hour from being done, and a wonderful aroma filled the house.
Ellen smiled and asked me if this was to proceed bad news. I admitted an important discussion was needed after dinner, but not bad news, only a family discussion.
I finished whipping the potatoes and took the onions off the double boiler's heat. Wendy helped by microwaving the turnip and summer squash.
I made gravy while the bird cooled enough to be carved; this I allowed Ellen to do, letting her feel part of the dinner.
After making no noise other than chewing and the occasional clink of silverware on plates, we finally finished eating. When putting the left-overs away, I saw a second meal and turkey soup was remaining.
Over coffee in the living room we began our family discussion. I ran through the worries I spoke of with Jean. Ellen never spoke, and even stopped Wendy when it looked like she wanted to interrupt.
Finally I had to stop for a drink of bottled water. Ellen looked at me, I just nodded and waved my hand for her to talk.
“I never saw you so worried about what we thought, Ginny. I agree Wendy can't keep sleeping on the sofa, and if we stay a family, she needs a bedroom of her own.”
Wendy started squirming saying, “My own room? Really?”
Ellen hushed her, continuing, “I would have to sell this one and come up with more money for a larger unit. If you started earning over $130,000, it would be easy.”
I interrupted, “That's $130,000 in TIPS!”
Ellen's blinked her eyes, Wendy's got huge. “In just tips alone, Ginny?”
“Yeah, that's based on working at the Naked City. I expect to make more at the Candy Cane.”
“So, I guess the only change would be that our jobs would be at different times, and the only time we would see you would be on your days off. Gee, even your riding lessons wold be on a different day.”
“Guys, I've really enjoyed tending bar this last week. If I got a job at a local restaurant, most of the tips would disappear. That's why Jim and Sue work at the strip joint, there's a lot of tips.”
I showed them my tips from last night, a slow night at the bar, $500. that's at least $2500 a week in tips, more with the busy Friday and Saturdays included.
As a family, we decided to look for a three bedroom condo, and I should at least try bar-tending full time.
Heading for bed before 10pm, we agreed to talk more in the morning at work.
Things calmed down around coffee break, but before we could resume last night's conversation, my computer beeped with a new email. It was an offer to sit for an interview at the Candy Cane Club.
“Well that removes the doubt of your employment, at least for the near future,” Ellen said, “Are you excited Ginny?”
I nodded 'yes', and called Jean, knowing I would wake her up.
She answered right away, saying the Club had faxed her a contract, and would I check it out for her.
We agreed to meet up at 2pm. This was her day off, so I invited her back to the condo for turkey dinner leftovers.
The interviews were the following day at noon for both of us, so we could car-pool again. I gave the contract a quick look and except for a few little things, it was what we had agreed to last week.
Asking what time we ate, she made her goodbyes, promising to see us at 5:30.
To be continued.
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