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“You know, Mookie, I know something of their history. It’s a blessing they’ve never had children. I could look around for something else for you. I don’t know that it’s appropriate that a sensitive young man should be working around that pair.”
“Oh no,” Mookie said, shocked at the idea. “Anyway I’m not all that sensitive.”
Sister Connie seemed to find that funny.
“They are a pair, but never mind.”
“Besides, Sister, this is the best job I ever had. I appreciate the program, and you especially, for getting my foot in the door.”
“All right then, in that case show me some yellow.”
By the time Mookie had helped Sister Connie choose a canary yellow for the window sills in the novitiate common room, mixed her a can of latex semi-gloss, upsold her two rolls of green painter’s tape and a two-inch slanted soft bristle paint brush, and taken her signature on the invoice, it was after closing time.
“Thank you, and God bless you,” Sister Connie said as she fixed her sunglasses and went out the door.
Mookie hung up the CLOSED sign and locked the front door.
The office door was still shut. He could hear Mr. and Mrs. Twilling arguing. Their voices were muffled and he could hear furniture being pushed about. Mookie checked the till and saw that it was empty. He went to the back door and turned off the lights and air conditioner. He was just about to exit out the back when he heard a loud thumping from the office followed by the clearly angry voice of Mrs. Twilling. He stopped, transfixed, and then ramped up his courage and made for the office door just as Mr. Twilling flung it open.
“Hey kid, listening at the door were you? Go on in, last chance to look down her blouse, you little creep — you’re out of a job.”
“No,” Mookie said.
“Ask the boss,” Mr. Twilling said and jerked a thumb over his shoulder.
He tried to push by Mookie, but Mookie shoved back.
“I’m a match for you anytime,” Mookie said.
Mr. Twilling laughed.
“You think so?”
“Okay kid. Right here.”
“Gary stop it,” Mrs. Twilling snapped from the office door. “Get out of here.”
Mr. Twilling sneered at Mookie. “Anytime kid.”
He pushed by Mookie and strode through the store. He tugged at the door until he figured out it need to be unlocked and then he unlocked it and was gone. Mookie waited, unsure what to do.
“Hey, Stuart?” Mrs. Twilling said.
“Come here,” she said.
Mookie stopped at the door to the office. Mrs. Twilling was sitting behind her desk. Her purse was lying on the floor in front of Mookie, its contents scattered.
“Are you all right?” Mookie said.
Mrs. Twilling pushed back from the desk and stood up.
“You’re not out of a job,” she said.
Mookie’s shoulders sagged with relief.
“You killed that dog, didn’t you,” she said.
“Yes ma’am, I did,” Mookie said.
“There was a package of Nicorette gum in my purse, can you find it?”
Mookie found the package of gum under the chair beside the door. Mrs. Twilling held out her arm and Mookie dropped the gum into the palm of her hand.
Mookie hung his head.
“You like me, don’t you, Stuart,” she said.
“Look at me.”
Mookie did as he was told.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything.”
“You didn’t mind killing that dog?”
“Not if it meant you’d get a good night’s sleep.”
Mrs. Twilling chewed quietly and stared at him with her beautiful green eyes and never blinked once. Mookie couldn’t take it and had to look away.
“You want me to kill Mr. Twilling?” Mookie said, looking over her shoulder at a big stuffed salmon on the wall.
“Whatever happens, happens,” she said.