“Did I not tell you to cancel the donuts?” Mr. Jenkins inquired while leaning over my desk with a piping-hot, maple-glazed donut.
“Yes sir. I believe you did.” My head was killing me, but my mouth was watering. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of seeing me squirm.
“So why are there donuts in this office this morning?” He asked softly while wafting the donut inches from my face. He didn’t bellow. He didn’t yell. He was quiet and still such as a April afternoon before tornadoes bear down on the unsuspecting and unprepared.
I was neither.
“Mr. Jenkins, I called The Wonderful World of Donuts and requested cancellation of their delivery service yesterday at 12:32pm. I was afraid something like this might happen, so I took the liberty of recording the conversation. Would you like to listen to it?”
His cell phone rings and he glances down at the display, “I’ve got take this.” He walks into his office and shuts the door. The smell of maple donuts follows in his wake.
“Mmmm, those smell so good this morning. Don’t you think?”
I didn’t have to turn around to know who had placed the order of donuts, but I did turn and straighten the piles of paperwork on my desk so my hands would have something to do other than throttle the blonde in front of me.
“I ate before I left the house this morning so not really. You might want to see if anyone else wants one. I’m sure the folks on two or three would love getting something from the executive suite. After all, today is ‘National Common Courtesy Day.’”
“Tumbly, you are so making that up,” she said as her face reddened. I think this might be the first time I’ve seen her mask slip. Her real face wasn’t so pretty.
“Well, I try not to lie those around me, but if you don’t believe me look it up.”
Actually, I did lie. I was getting pretty good at it since I had started working here. I wouldn’t exactly call it a job perk, but at the moment, it was working in my favor.
I sat back in my chair and massaged my right temple hoping Stacy would take it as a cue to leave. I had bizarre dreams last night, probably because of the Oreos and wine for dinner. I woke up with a killer migraine and I actually was ravenous because I didn’t eat breakfast at home. I truly would give my left arm for a donut, but it would be a cold day in the Sahara before I would tell her that. To top it off I was almost late – this time because Bojan wouldn’t go number two unless I turned and didn’t watch. Yes. I have a dog with privacy issues.
“Oh, I believe you. Just like I believe you’d gnaw off your arm for this donut about now.”
I wasn’t sure if I heard her right or not. These past two days with her have been more than enough. Maybe we bonded or something?
Stacy looked at me quizzically then shook her head quickly as if dismissing a random thought. “Anyhoo – we have lots to do today and daddy and I will need you working on the catalog for the next auction of imports, there’s an important delivery scheduled for late this afternoon and you also need to finish that report that’s due today. Do you have any questions?”
I batted my eyes and smiled sweetly. “Not a one. I am crystal clear on what to do.” I continued to straighten the piles of paperwork on my desk as she turned away.
“Oh, and Tumbly, that outfit looks nice on you. I wonder who could have picked it out for you?” she mocked. “Oh, that would be me.”
What a bitch… I thought.
“You just now figured that out?” she said.
Stacy’s laughter carried down the corridor as she went back to her office and I knew at that moment something was horribly wrong.
* * *
I can’t recall the last time I corrected a billing and lading report with any kind of speed, but I can tell you travel on the autobahn was incomparable to how fast I was working to get that thing done. I wanted to get out of the office and over to the warehouse as soon as possible or as quickly as a person can travel through a city of over eight million people.
Red Door Antiques and Imports bought an entire city block
and refurbished many of the buildings on the waterfront in the warehouse district. I don’t know that it actually has a high crime rate, but I’ve always felt like I could get mugged in broad daylight here. Despite his other faults, Mr. Jenkins’ does at least provide some private security guards to keep his investments safe. I don’t know if they are exactly on the up and up, but I’ll take the guys in the black suits over some of the other people I’ve seen around here any day of the week.
The import warehouse I was cataloging in today was on 32nd street. I really did love this refurbished building with its red brick exterior, green wrought iron accents and broad windows which let in plenty of afternoon light.
I checked in with Brutus and made my way toward catalog room number three. Actually, I have to be honest. His name isn’t Brutus. It’s Duane. However, he looks like a Brutus because of his protruding chin, the scar running along the side of his nose and the uni-brow that always reminds me of a large caterpillar.
There are a lot of interesting things coming up for auction and a few I wouldn’t mind having; however, company policy states employees aren’t allowed to bid on any auction items. Of course, this doesn’t apply to the company owners or their families or their best friends or their third cousin’s pet rat. I’m a little bitter because every time I find something I would love to have, it mysteriously disappears or gets snatched up by one of the Jenkins clan. It’s totally frustrating and there’s not a thing in the universe I can do about it.
I look around the room and decide to catalog the smaller items first. They are away from the windows and by the time I move to the larger items, the sun will be at just the right angle to provide light without glare.
The comic books and action figures took me a while to catalog. It really wasn’t because there were so many. It’s because I really couldn’t help reading the first four in the “Avengers” series and turning pages with gloves on was not easy. The only comic I wanted to read, but didn’t was the one I’m betting will go for the most money - The Amazing Spider Man #1 with an unauthenticated Stan Lee signature. I’ve seen his autograph enough times to know that if it was a fake, it was a darned good one.
It took awhile to make my way from the back of room three to the vehicles parked in front of the plate glass windows. Sunlight gleamed off of two Model T’s. One was a 1914 touring car and the other was a 1924 baby blue Model T Roadster with a natural wood trim. There was also a black and white 1958 Studebaker Scotsman pickup truck, and a 1934 merlot colored Ford Deluxe five window coupe that had been fully restored. Mr. Jenkins loved these big ticket items and they would make sure that I got another paycheck or two.
I was almost done with the cataloging when my phone rang.
“Has the delivery made it there yet?”
Straight. To the point. No formalities nor greetings. Typical. “Stacy mentioned there was to be a delivery today, but not where it was going to be made,” I said taking a jab at his daughter. “Do I need to wait here for it for can Brut- er, Duane sign for it?”
“Tumbly, I didn’t call you to ask if it had arrived there if you didn’t need to wait there, would I?”
“No sir, you wouldn’t,” I replied. “Do you happen to have the tracking number for this shipment so I can get a projected arrival time from the company?”
He laughed, “Do you have somewhere else you need to be? A date or something?”
I really wanted to say yes, but the lie wouldn’t form in my mouth. Now that was something different. “No sir.”
“Good. It should be there by six. Just sign for it and lock it in the safe with the non-auctionables. I’ll be by first thing in the morning to get it.”
“Yes, Mr. Jen-“
He hung up on me. Again. That man never lets me finish a phone conversation. I often wonder if his wife ever got any last words in when she died.
* * *
:How do you get rid of excrement in this bowl?
Forget the crap. For a million dollars, I would love to get rid of this new voice in my head, but I know darned good and well if I told a shrink I thought my dog was talking to me I’d be wearing a very special jacket in a little padded room for a very long time. I am not Dr. Doolittle.
:Excuse me. Unless you want this waiting for you when you get home, can you tell me how to get rid of it?
“Flip the silver handle on the side of the tank down,” I said out loud while gazing out the window toward the river.
“Okay miss, but I have no idea what you are talking about. I’m just here to deliver this package.”
I’d love to say I was mortified, but that wouldn’t quite cut it. However, I did collect myself and walked across the room with a smile on my face. “I’m sorry, I was just babbling to myself about some nonsense. Let me take that from you,” I said reaching for the box which was partially crushed and split open. “What happened to this? Is this thing insured?” I asked setting the partially mutilated package down on top of another box.
“Should be, but this is the way it came off the plane. You might take it up with corporate,” he said glancing at his watch. “They won’t open again for another 8 hours or so though.”
“I’ll let Mr. Jenkins know. Where do I need to sign?”
He handed me a hand-held electronic scanner where I signed my name and he was gone again.
I picked up the package and a glimmer of gold caught my eye through the torn opening. Yes, I know I shouldn’t pry, but it’s not like I haven’t seen a number of priceless things come through the auction house. I took the package and stood by the edge of the window where the last of the afternoon sun was streaming in and carefully aimed it inside the package.
:How do you make the water stop?
:The water in the bowl that’s no longer in the bowl. It just keeps on coming like the waterfalls in Aravan.
“The toilet is overflowing?”
:The white bowl is over-flowing with water. If you call it a toilet, then yes.
I left the building with some urgency yelling at Brutus behind me to lock up because my dog flushed the toilet and it was currently flooding my apartment. It’s amazing how quickly a taxi can get from one end of the city to the other after the dinner rush.
Murphy, the night doorman, greeted me cordially and pointed to the stairs. A small stream of water slowly trickled down from the third floor to the lobby. On the landing to the second floor stood Mr. Mancuso and he didn’t look too happy with me. In fact, I think thunderous would have been a more apt description.
Five bucks says my rent is about to go up.
“Young lady,” he said. “Didn’t we have an agreement about pets?
“Pets?” I asked weakly.
“Yes. Pets. That dog of yours created this mess and I want him gone now if not sooner. No pets. That was our agreement.”
I know he’s not gonna believe me. Heck, I don’t believe me, but I was always told to tell the truth. “Mr. Mancuso, I don’t have a pet.”
“Wha- no pet? What is that THING then in your apartment?”
“What do you mean what thing? The dog. Huge? Pointy nose? Staring at the swirling water in the toilet? He kept pressing the lever to flush it. That’s all he did. Flush. Flush. Flush. Now look at this mess.”
“Mr. Mancuso, how long have you known me?”
“You moved in about five years ago so that long.”
“And have you ever known me to bring home as much as a goldfish?”
“No, because you know the rule. No pets.”
I smiled at him and put my hand on his shoulder. “Right. No pets. So when I tell you that this dog showed up at my apartment on Sunday and I’ve been trying to get rid of him since, you might just believe me, right?”
“Miss Vivienne, I want to. I really do, but look at this mess. Look at what you do to me. You are killing me. You are. This old man is going to have a heart attack. Right here. I’m too old for this. I don’t do pets. They make messes.”
“Right. So I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll clean up this mess if you can get the dog out of my apartment.”
We walked up to my apartment and there sat Bojan in the bathroom watching the water pour over the lip of the bowl. What do you say at a time like this? It was pretty pathetic. I mean really, the dog is cooped up all day and has nothing else to do for fun.
:You do have a point.
“Miss Vivienne, did you say something?” Mr. Mancuso asked as he came into the bathroom behind me.
“No. I’m just talking to myself. A bad habit these days. Now, about this dog…”
Four hours later Bojan was curled up on the floor at the end of my bed and my rent had gone up fifty dollars a month.