A lopsided number made locating the house difficult. An overweight teen clad in an apparent handmade dress of stiff printed cloth and an aged woman, similarly dressed, stood on the stone porch staring in her direction.
Oh great, Lola would be the evening entertainment. No wonder they wouldn’t cancel. Time to shift into the dream spinner mode. Tom called her the best he’d ever seen, creating a dream world the customers couldn’t wait to join. Also, she kept pace with the hottest males, without any sex appeal on her side. The female hires tended to be ordinary in looks. Tom discovered girls most likely to have hope chest dreams seldom bought from beautiful women. Gorgeous women also got much better-paying jobs at the local watering holes. Her lack of a sizable rack kept her from qualifying as a sports bar server.
The heavy display kit took both hands to carry. While it didn’t contain everything in the line, it included a sampling of the wares. Be the dream spinner; give the people a good show for their time. The job paid a modest stipend, and mileage, but the real money came from sales. At the end of her presentations, almost everyone wanted to buy even when her conscience was against it. She even tried to tone down the rhetoric when she noticed threadbare furniture and cars dotted with primer sitting in the driveway.
Part of the dream scenario starts with the client. Most, raised in impoverished settings, see a wedding as the stepping stone into a new life: a wedding they fantasized about fueled by television shows, bridal magazines, and relatives marrying. All Lola did was bring the elements into play. People like Lola didn’t believe in fairytale weddings and happily ever after scenarios. Her mother’s constant litany, how men only let you down, settled deep in her bones, causing her to end any relationship before it ever became serious.
The older woman stepped forward to meet her, holding out a thin, veiny hand. “Welcome. Glad you could make it. Sorry to hear about your car trouble. Pammy here has been looking forward to your visit for days.”
Her hand enveloped the older woman’s hand gently. She knew enough from interaction with her own grandmother that the elderly would not appreciate a hearty hand pump. It’s hard on the arthritis. “Glad to be here.” Not really, she mentally corrected herself. Still, the people merited her best manners.
Pammy stepped forward with a smile. “I made some snickerdoodle cookies. Granny bought some cheese puffs and Coke. It will be a party with us girls.” Her hand went up, covering her mouth as she giggled.
Odd gesture. Habitual. Probably hiding bad teeth. She should probably soft pedal the wares. They were already out some money for refreshments. Her stomach gave a rumble, demonstrating its empty state and appreciation of a supper composed of cheese puffs and homemade cookies. The television set flickered in the corner, running an old black and white rerun. An older man sat in a vinyl recliner, dull with age and patched with duct tape. Her entrance caused him to sit upright, pulling the chair into an erect position.
“This is my cue to vanish into my workshop.” The man smiled briefly at the three of them before reaching for his cane.
“You don’t have to go, sir. You’re welcome to stay.”
He pushed up his slipping glasses. “Ah, thanks. Got work to do. A broken stool to fix.”
Regret crowded her mind as he tottered away. No doubt he wouldn’t enjoy the presentation. Might even see through all the smoke and mirrors. A person with no investment in having a hope chest would realize what a ridiculous ritual it was. The others were her customers. The ones who placed their secret wishes and desires into a physical object.
Pammy cleared off the dining room table, pulling off a hobnail glass bowl filled with wax fruit, followed by folding up the lace tablecloth. A predesigned layout dictated where she placed everything. Each item she would pick up, ask for names, scenarios, dream honeymoon location to insert into each fantasy she wove. Then she passed the product as if it were magical. In some ways, it was.
A glass emblazoned with Flintstone characters and chocked full of ice and soda appeared at her elbow along with a plate piled with cheese puffs and cookies. Decent people. They deserved much more than an easy payment plan for overpriced cookware and bottom of the line china. No way for Pammy to understand, though. She would change her mind a hundred times on her favorite pattern before she ever married. The overhead light shined through the translucent blue crystal goblet as Lola held it up.
Brett’s face formed on the glass surface. She never allowed herself to daydream. Her mother referred to them as practical people. She considered herself a woman of sense, not a dreamer. As for her mother, the woman felt wronged that her husband had the bad form to die in a car accident before Lola’s seventh birthday, causing her mother to mistake bitterness for practicality. Where was her highway hero? Probably on his way, wherever that was.
Time to start the show.