Fed Up Moving by Elizabeth McLaughlin
The other day while out on the road with the bicycle taking in nature, I stopped at a crossroad and looked to the side and there scattered on the ground was a blue vacuum cleaner and stereo receiver unit. How horrible it is to find such stuff just tossed onto the side of the road. Again, it became another interesting road-side display that I could craft into a short story on how I think it ended up on the side of the road.
Tracey worked for a local retailer in a small town and diligently kept the specialty gifts immaculately clean and appealing to upscale shoppers. She enjoyed her job, especially when the owner would permit her to use new concepts for featured displays. In order to make ends meet Tracy worked long hours and also had to bounce from one job to another to make living costs to cover rent, food, car payments and toddler support. Tracey lived on a quaint old street, lined with established maple trees. Her favorite tree on the street had huge roots that bulged up above the gray granite stone sidewalk. It had such a unique appealing natural quality, a smiling face etched in bark. The neighbors were great and Mrs. Teabody, a retired school teacher took care of Thomas during the day and into the early evening. It was the perfect situation for a working single mother to find these days. After all the nightmares experienced in renting apartments and juggling expenses, questionable day care centers, Tracey finally found an affordable cottage in the back of the Peterson’s huge soft green painted Victorian mansion with bright white trim. A lovely family that did not take advantage of people in need of housing. Here she could feel a strong sense of security and stability that she already benefitted from for two years. Upon moving in Tracey eagerly white washed the wooden clapboard on the front porch and loved finding at local yard sales decorative antiques that added a warm inviting comfortable touch. She always wanted a garden, and planted beautiful bright blue, purple, red and yellow flowers from the local garden nursery. It looked like the perfect tiny home that one would find in a Country Magazine. Thomas also had his own nursery, decked out with a French antique wooden crib, dresser, toy box and shelving for all of his plush stuffed animals and story books.
It was a quiet Wednesday evening, and Tracey was preparing Thomas for bed. Rocking in the chair, reading fairy tales became a cherished moment that they could gaze into each others eyes and cuddle. The phone rang at the downstairs kitchen wall telephone and Tracey gently placed Thomas into his crib to sleep. She dashed quietly down the narrow carpeted stairs and picked up the mellow yellow colored telephone. “Tracey it’s Liz, sorry to have to call this evening but I was wondering if you could open up the store tomorrow. I really need your help because my daughter Betsy has a doctor’s appointment.” Tracey sat on the Costco red metal kitchen stool and replied, “Yes, don’t worry, not a problem, I understand.” As soon as she hung up the phone it rang again. Tracey picked up the receiver slowly and answered, “hello.” On the other end she could hear static noise. “Hello, hello, stop calling here or I will call the police”, Tracey said. For weeks that phone would ring at odd hours of the night but no one responded.
The next morning Tracey woke up at the crack of dawn to prepare for a very hectic day of work. She walked down the gravel driveway toward the main street to collect the mail that she neglected picking up the previous day, and the thoughts of the extra work money would come into handy savings for emergencies. After sifting through the mail she noticed a hand written envelope with just her name on it. Upon opening the letter she read two printed words, HELLO, HELLO. “Now this is going beyond a prank phone call and the person knows where I live.” she cried. The mail collected dropped to the ground and scattered onto the street. Stacey fumbled to gather it up and out of nowhere a speeding car screeched by only to disappear into the thick morning mist. And, all she could notice seeing was a dull black sedan. The Peterson’s bedroom light partially lit up the front lawn and Mr. Peterson opened up the large pained window and screamed. “Are you okay Tracey? That car sounded like it hit you!” Tracey responded, “I have no clue Mr. Peterson, perhaps it was a kid trying to be smart. I will talk to you later and have to get to work early.” The window slammed shut and all that Tracey could think of was not to have created any bad feelings with the Petersons. After making Thomas his favorite oatmeal breakfast and dropping him off at Mrs. Teabody’s, Tracey drove her cream-colored van down main street to the early period stone clad store. A black and white police car was parked at ‘The Flying Flamingo Cafe’ and Tracey could view Vince through the window making his to go order at the front counter. Little did Tracey know, Vince was attracted to her when he places his order to her at his night shift and was still seeking the courage to ask for a date. Tracey drove to the back parking lot of the store where employees parked, walked up to the back entry only to find the metal door not locked. She decided to enter and flipped all the light switches on and proceeded to the front of the store by walking to the main reception room. Footsteps creaked the floor boards coming from the second floor and Tracey froze. A muffled familiar whistling tune filled the air, and then Tracey relaxed, yelled up the stairs, “Jasper is that you!” Jasper responded, “yes mam, just finishing up waxing the floors for Ms. Lizzie.” “Well that is a relief, I thought you were a break-in”, said Tracey.
The morning hours flew by because it was unusually busy with customers. The director of the Women’s Rotary Club made an outstanding order for the groups Derby Days luncheon benefit and show! Tracey worked hard to complete the order as directed and knew that Liz would be pleased with the sale. Liz arrived at noon and before Tracey could explain about the sales, she headed up to her office with a look of distress on her face. Within ten minutes the intercom telephone buzzed at the main sales counter and Liz asked Tracey to come up to her office for a meeting. Tracey closed the register drawer, handed over a customer purchase and headed to the elegant pine staircase that led up to the office. Liz sat at a massive intricately carved cherry wood partners desk and directed Tracey to have a seat. The veins in Liz’s neck began to bulge as she blurted out as if in pain, “Apparently I had a very disturbing encounter this morning with Wendy, the director of the Women’s Rotary Club. She explained to me in detail about the unprofessional shopping experience received today at the shop. Please tell me how this could possibly happen in my shop?” Then there was a brief silence and Liz continued, “I was totally mortified in front of a lot of people. Tracey, I assured her that this type of service cannot be tolerated and I would ask that your service be immediately terminated. I will have Jasper bring your things and paycheck.” Tracey’s mouth quivered and she could not believe what she was hearing. As soon as she opened her mouth to speak Liz lifted up her hand and raised a trembling finger to her lips. At that point Tracey got up, walked out of the room, closed the office door, quickly ran down the stairs and past a startled waiting customer. All she could hear in the distance was a sobbing crazed woman.
The route along a country road to home was picturesque maybe calming. The cream-colored van swerved around corners and then Tracey decided to pull over, get out of the vehicle and just run through a field of tall grass until collapsing. Hours went by and only upon hearing black birds cawing from a baron tree did Tracey come to her waking senses. There was no doubt that Thomas was waiting to be picked up at Mrs. Teabody’s but he would have to wait because it was important to stop off at the Peterson’s as promised. Tracey decided to pick some flowers from the front garden to make a bouquet for the Peterson’s. She knocked on the door, bouquet in hand and was greeted by Mrs. Peterson. “We were worried about you this morning, Tracey, and I think it is time that we had a chat.” she said. Tracey could only think about the horrific meeting just experienced with Liz and her knees started to tremble. Mrs. Peterson offered Tracey a cup of tea and thanked her for the lovely bouquet and proceeded to explain that Martha their only daughter was about to enter Med School. She described a great financial burden and said, “Today the costs are extremely frightening for Martha to attend a private institution and unfortunately we have to double the cottage rental.” Tracey said, “Mrs. Peterson, you know that it is impossible for me to afford such a high rent and I will have to move.”
Tracey picked up Thomas and explained to Mrs. Teabody her misfortunes for the day. Mrs. Teabody offered to inquire with friends about finding a new rental and not to worry. She said, “Just take some time off and rest dear, tomorrow is a new bright day, things will fall into place.” It is easy for people to say but to Tracey it seemed like a far off dream. At least she still had the job at The Flying Flamingo Cafe! A few weeks passed and by a small miracle so did the mysterious phone calls and a yard sale to eliminate most stuff. She decided to take Thomas with her for the drive down Route 206 to the local dump. It was quite expensive for garbage disposal and undeniably unaffordable for a single mom working part-time. Tracey came to an intersection stop and opened up the back door to the cream-colored van. The sight of Liz moving her finger to lip brought up anger as Tracey glazed over at the black receiver and blue vacuum cleaner. Tracey picked it up, tossed both items violently to the side of the road and guiltily drove off. Later that evening Vince appeared to make his usual order to go at The Flying Flamingo Cafe. He said, “Tracey so sorry to hear about your job loss, the shop closing and Liz loosing her daughter to illness. I know it’s not the right time but it sure would be nice to take you out to a fabulous night out on the town!” Tracey stood there feeling like a played fool, caught her emotions, and replied with a yes.