Are you seeing a theme here? Because I sure am – most of my short stories revolve around women, and I get a kick now with labeling them as, ‘the such and such’! I’m working on ‘the widow’ and ‘the lover’ next – soooo excited that at last the theme of my short story collection is taking shape. Why should you buy it if you can get it all for free here? Easy, you don’t get it all for free. You get excerpts, and I will have at least ten to fifteen new stories in the book. Besides, don’t you want to know what stories do eventually make it in the book? What I edited out or added in? How will the new stories compare? Also, if you let me know you’re a reader of this blog, you’ll get an autographed plate for your book or an autographed discounted copy – if you order directly from me. Details are fuzzy right now. But remember 90 days equals a lot of good stories and maybe only a third of those will make it on here. I know, plug, baby, plug.
She sat in the large foyer, nervous, in the exact same spot the unsmiling housekeeper had shown her to moments before. She trembled
slightly, but not from the cold -getting the job just meant too much to her was all. It would mean heat in the winter, and food on the table, and the comforts that she could only dream of back home in mexico. Oh Dios, mio. how she wanted-no needed this job! She glanced down at her outfit, a black and white patterned dress with dark stockings, half obscured by the plain cloth black coat and matching
scarf that she always wore around her neck. Dress to impress, the lady
from the agency had said. Well, this was about as impressive as it got
for her. The lady with the large glasses from the agency had also told her frankly, but not unkindly, that this was the last interview they would send her on, as she was proving ‘rather difficult to place’. She stroked her throat, unconsciously fingering her scar as she often did when she was nervous. And nervous she was.
Mrs. Broadwater, walked in, tall, blonde and impeccably groomed in that Manhattan, rich kind of way. “Grisela, is it? Did I say it right, Gree-seh-lah?” She talked a mile a minute, almost like she was the nervous one, this reasurred Grisela and she relaxed a bit. “Si Senora.”
Mrs Broadwater or Kath, as she insisted that Grisela refer to her as,
led her into what looked like the formal living room, full of over-stuffed sofas and paintings, mostly of young children and cockerspaniels. “This is a beautiful house, Senora.” Kath waved a hand
at her in that nervous impatient way she had, brushing aside her compliment and motioning for her to
sit all at the same time. “It’s Kath, please.” She pointed to the canvases on the wall. “I painted most of these – you like?” She flashed her eager smile again.
“Cliff- my husband,” again that slight wave, ” calls it my stress
outlet, but I’ll tell you a little secret, I just love to do it, stressed or not. Sssshh, that stays between us, okay?.” She smiled at Grisela, delighted, as if
they had just shared some delicious naughty secret. “They are beautiful.” Grisela hesistated, she could not bring herself to call her Kath, so she fell silent again. Kath smiled again, not just a mere flash this time, exposing her impossibly perfect veneers. “I knew I liked you for a reason.” She played with a cigarrette absent mindedly. “Can
never find any f***ng ashtrays in this place. Cliff wants me to give
up smoking so he hides them, and Aida,” she glanced over her shoulder
lowering her voice as if afraid of being overheard. ‘Aida- she’s on his side, you know. Me against them. So, another secret. This house has more secrets than the f***king CIA, you know?” Her tone was matter of fact, but she grinned, self-deprecating, “Sure you still want to work for us, Grisela?”
Grisela stared at her and nodded slowly. She reached into her bag abd
pulled out an empty plastic bottle. It said Hi-C orange juice on the
worn label. “Ashtray?” She handed it to Kath. Another genuine mega watt smile. “You my dear, are a wonder.” Kath enveloped Grisela in a hug, leaving her smelling faintly of rosewater and cigarettes.”What can I say Grisela, you’ve got the job!” Again, a flash of the veneers, “Cliff will probably have a fit,
but who cares, huh?”
Grisela swallowed, barely comprehending, “Si…gracias…” She
reverted to her native tongue in her confusion. Kath was barely
listening, flushed and enthused by her own impulsiveness. “Ofcourse you’ll have to stay and meet Kimmie – she gets back from school in about half an hour. She will adore you, I’m sure
of it. And it will be nice to have her speaking spanish again…” She
clasped her hand over her mouth. “Oh my gosh, let me take your coat- I
know, a mere thirty minutes later.” She made a moue at her lack of
hostessing skills and tugged at Grisela’s coat. Grisela watched
immobile as the loosely knotted scarf came undone leaving her scar
exposed, a crude thick line accross her throat. “Oh…” Kath’s mouth
was a perfect circle as she searched for the appropraite words. They
never came. Grisela spoke softly, but rapidly, tears rolling down her
face. “He said he would kill me, but I never believed him. My husband,
he…” snuffling she accepted the handkerchief that was wordlessly
offered. “…he was drunk and angry, like a mad bull- he chased them
down with a knife, I begged him not to do it… but he killed our children,” she sank to her knees in anguish, words muffled by the hands that covered her face. “Then I cut my throat.” Kath gasped at the stark finality of her words. Grisela smiled bitterly,”Si. I had
nothing to live for…my son…” Her voice broke as Kath sank to the
floor cradling her in her arms.
“Shhhh…it’s okay Grisela. You’re safe now, he can never touch you
here. I’ll send for your things so you don’t ever have to go back. No,
I insist.” She was firm and in charge now, reaching for the telephone.
Grisela watched her from the floor where she still lay, crumpled in a
heap. She crossed herself twice rapidly, hidden by the mass of curly
hair that now hung over her face like a dark web. The lie had been a
big but necessary one. She knew from experience that few people if any
actually believed that such a hideous looking scar was nothing more
than a birthmark. They prefered to think that she was a former gang
member or worse. Her Mother used to say that sometimes a lie was more palatable than the truth and she had been right, as always. She glanced around the room with its paintings and expensive furniture and smiled inwardly.
She was going to love it here.