Kiki Lowenstein and the Bad Day (Final Installment)


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Note: I asked my Facebook peeps tosuggest starting sentences for a Kiki Lowenstein short story. There were somany terrific ideas that I have decided to try to incorporate more thanone –and write a progressive short story. You’ll be reading this as I createit! Wish me luck!

Note: This short story comes before Ready, Scrap, Shoot—and Kiki is six weeks pregnant.

Summary: In last four weeks’ installments—Kiki walked into Time in the Bottle only to discover papersscattered everywhere. Detective Chad Detweiler arrived to pronounce the store”safe,” but Kiki’s still wondering what’s up. Her co-worker Margit has shown upand reminded Kiki that she needs a great idea for May to boost their sales. Asshe’s pondering what to do, Teresa Alvarez stops in to drop off a gift forKiki. Teresa is planning to become a US citizen on May 5, but her joy isdiminished because her cousin Juanita cannot afford the increased fees forcitizenship applications. Seeking to change the subject, Kiki opens her present,which includes white chocolate tamales and several cascarones, the brightlycolored eggs used to celebrate the arrival of Spring. When Juanita leaves, Kikiis still stuck with her original problem. She needs to create a special eventand use up all the shredded paper found in the backroom. Plus, now she’s ponderinghow to raise money to help Teresa’s sister Juanita, who wants to apply forcitizenship.

By the way, you can readInstallments #1, 2, 3 and 4 by going to older posts on this blog.

Detweiler came by as I was leaving work. His dad had asked himto drive over to the farm because he needed help with his new computer, and of course, he was willing to go with my blessing. I stood there, hugging him, just looking into his eyes and wondering what he sees.*

Mydaughter Anya called to ask if she could spend the night at her grandmother’shouse because she wanted to watch The Game of Thrones on Sheila’s big screenTV.

“That leaves you and me, girlfriend,” I told Gracie, myGreat Dane.

Since he’s moved in, Detweiler has done most of thecooking, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that all we had in therefrigerator were six uncooked eggs, a potato, a few broccoli florets, and an onion.He’s such a fresh-freak that he buys whatever he’s cooking on his way to thehouse. I’m a last minute, if-it-slows-down-I’ll-eat-it, sort of girl.

Studying the eggs, I thought about the cascarones. Afterwashing a craft knife, I opened one end of the shells and dumped the yolks and whites into abowl. Next I rinsed the eggshells out and setthem aside to dry in the Styrofoam egg carton.

Then I made myself a frittata and went to bed.

I ate the leftovers the next day for breakfast. I just knew that this day was going to be different; I could feel it in my heart! ** Istill hadn’t conjured up a great idea for our store, but I was in a pretty goodmood when Gracie and I arrived at Time in a Bottle. All that changed in theblink of an eye when I discovered yet another pile of shredded paper.

“Woof!” Gracie shotacross the backroom floor, jerking her leash out of my hands.

“What on earth?” I ranafter her, noting as I did that the entire floor was covered with torn papers.

“Woof! Woof!” She dancedand pranced on her hind legs, pawing at the metal shelf units. From the topshelf, a gray head with bright brown eyes peered at us. A squirrel! And he wasnot happy we’d invaded his territory.

I went over to the deskin Dodie’s office and called Critter Control. Once I explained the problem,they promised to send a man over right away. “Do not engage the rodent, ma’am.Leave him to us.”

“You aren’t going tokill it, are you?” I rubbed my baby bump as tears prickled behind my eyes.Gosh, but hormones make me weepy.

The dispatcher assuredme that they had a catch and release program.

After convincing Graciethat a dog yummy was a far, far better treat than raw squirrel on the run, I walked her tothe front of the store and turned on my computer. Drat. Now I had more shredded paperto contend with, a bill coming for squirrel removal, and no idea how toentertain my scrapbookers.

So I piddled around onthe Internet, deciding to look up the historyof cascarones. There I learned that the idea is thought to have beenbrought from Asia by Marco Polo. The trinkets were filled with perfume and tohave one broken over your head is supposed to be “good luck.” Typically these activities are enjoyed at Easter.

But every custom can berevised to fit the times, can’t it? I wondered to myself. By the time I letBarney, the Critter Control guy, into our backroom, I had the inkling of aplan.

#

“Wow! A Cinco de Mayoparty! What a brilliant crop idea!” said Bonnie Gossage, my dear pal andsometimes legal counselor.

“Actually, this is thepre-party,” I admitted. “We’re going to fill the empty eggshells with homemadeconfetti.”

I’d enlisted the help offive of my best customers for this job. They sat next to me at my work tableawaiting instructions. Over the past few weeks, I’d begged everyone to emptytheir eggs gently, rinse out the shells, and drop them off at the store intheir egg cartons. Eventually I collected twenty-five dozen eggshells.Detweiler and I colored them at home and let them dry. I gathered a variety ofpunches and a stack of papers, the same papers that had once been damaged bythe squirrel. (For cleanliness sake, I’d simply cut off the yucky parts,sprayed them with Lysol, and ta-da! Clean, fresh paper. Or so I hoped!)

Bonnie, Julie Essler,Angie Folger, Jennifer Moore, and Lisa Brunswick had agreed to help me punchthe papers into bits of confetti. Once we had a nice pile of bits, we spoonedthe confetti into our eggs and passed them along to a card table where Anya andNicci Moore, Jennifer’s daughter, smoothed and glued bits of tissue paper over the openends.

Into ten of the eggs, Icarefully inserted a lottery ticket. Into another ten, there were coupons fordiscounts and five received gift certificates.

All in all, the assemblytook about three hours, probably because we were having so much fun.

“See you all tomorrow!”I said as I escorted my friends to the front door.

#

Whata grand time we had the next night! Twenty-four customers paid $25 a person to come to ourspecial crop. In exchange for their money, they received supplies for a “makeand take” scrapbook project, and five cascarones each. They could purchaseadditional cascarones for a dollar each. I’d priced out the “make and take” projectsso that they wouldn’t cost a lot, but there are always expenses and overheadthat must be considered, so I thought that giving a portion to Teresa was stillfair.

Of course, the $25 feealso included a great meal! I made chocolate tamales for all our guests, Teresabrought two pots of her special Mexican rice, and Clancy made the fixings fortacos. For drinks, I bought margarita flavored Crystal Lite and iced tea. I ate until I thought my tummy would burst.

At the start of thecrop, I had announced that half our proceeds would go to pay for Juanita’scitizenship application. An hour into the evening, we’d sold all thecascarones! We had more than enough for Juanita’s application, so I was able toannounce that Time in a Bottle was also donating an additional $100 to Juanitato help with her expenses.

“But remember, everyone.You have to promise not to smash your egg until midnight,” I told them. Everyhour that went by, the anticipation grew. My customers were eager to see ifthey’d won a gift certificate or a lottery ticket. I’ll admit it was almost asmuch fun as Christmas because each woman had a white bowl heaped high with thebrightly colored eggshells.

I’d set six alarm clocksto go off at the stroke of midnight. Clang-clang-clang! What a clatter they made.

Mycustomers began to giggle as they slapped their eggshells onto their ownforeheads and later onto the heads of their neighbors.

Of course, Clancy and Igot into the act, too. I slapped a blue egg against the crown of her head. Brightly colored confetti and a lottery ticket floated down.

“Woohooo!” she yelled. “Myturn!”

And with great glee shesmashed an egg against my head. To my shock, a cold gooey trickle slid down myforehead and dripped off my face.

“What?” I jumped upfrom my chair. “Clancy! How could you!”

She stuck her tongue outat me. “Got you back for that April Fool’s joke!”

Two dozencameras clicked at once. My customers had been in on the prank!

Argh. But I had tolaugh. This crop had started with a very, very bad day—and it was ending with afun night. Egg-sactly what I’d hoped for!

–The End–

Thanks to:

*Dru Ann Love

**Pamela Hargraves

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