Kiki Lowenstein and the Bad Day (Part IV)

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Note:I asked my Facebook peeps to suggest starting sentences for a Kiki Lowenstein short story. There were so many terrific ideas that I have decided to try to incorporate more than one –andwrite a progressive short story. You’ll be reading this as I create it! Wish me luck!

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

In last three weeks’ installments—Kiki walked into Time in theBottle only to discover papers scattered everywhere. Detective Chad Detweiler arrived to pronounce the store “safe,” but Kiki’s still wondering what’s up.Her co-worker Margit has shown up and reminded Kiki that she needs a great idea for May to boost their sales. As she’s pondering what to do, Teresa Alvarez stops in to drop off a gift for Kiki. Teresa is planning to become a US citizen on May 5, but her joyis diminished because her cousin Juanita cannot afford the increased fees for citizenship applications. Seeking to change the subject, Kiki opens her present.

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

I was stumped. I’d never heard of cascarones, and as I turned the delicate tissue paper coveredegg around and around in my hand, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Obviously, this gift required a bit of explanation. Pulling up a stool, I sat down. Teresa took another stool to sit beside me.

She gently took my toy away from me. “Each spring in my little town in Mexico, we start to save egg shells. As we cook, we only open one end, rather than crush them.”

With a finger,she traced the larger portion of the oval. Now that I was looking more carefully, I could see that it was covered with tissue paper and not solid. It was as if someone had done a repair job to the egg!

“I see,” I said, taking it from her and marveling at the patch job. “This certainly is pretty.If you put them in a glass bowl on a table, they would make a wonderful centerpiece.”

Si, and we do that. But we have another use for them.” Once again, she took the egg from me.

With a lightning strike, she smashed the egg into my forehead! I was so taken aback that I nearly fell off my stool. More shocking was the glitter and confetti that rained down over my nose! Of course, I’d anticipated a shower of gooey egg yolks and whites. This was dry. Ticklish. And startling.

“Oh!” I gasped.

She giggled. “Forgive me, but it’s the best way to explain. They are much fun. Especially so if you are not familiar with them. The children, they love them so much. But the grownups think they are fun, too.”

As the confetti drifted down over my hands and lap, I started laughing. “Well! Thank you for teaching me something new.”

After Teresa left, I went back to my work. When I took a bathroom break, I stuck my head into check on Margit. She didn’t hear me approach; she was muttering darkly as she stared at our sales figures. “Kiki, I do not know what we will do. We need a special event for May. And that paper! It is ruined, I think. With it goes our profits.”

As I lingered in the doorway, Clancy came in through the backdoor. She tilted her head to stareat me. “You’re covered in glitter.”

I explained about the cascarones.

“I wish I could have seen the expression on your face when Teresa smashed one on your head,”said Clancy.

I bit back a laugh. Clancy was irked with me. For April Fool’s Day, I had tricked her into believing someone had poured ink all over our cash register. She’d thrown a hissy fit in front of two customers—and once she learned it was a gag, she’d been even more angry. Usually, she’s a great sport, but she takes herself a bit too seriously sometimes, and this (IMHO) was one of them.

Margit shook her head. “Ja, that would have been funny.”

But she didn’t sound amused.

“What’s wrong?” Clancy asked.

That gave Margit permission to complain about the shredded paper, the need for more sales, and the state of the ozone. About halfway through, I walked away. In general, my philosophy is (as Mert says) that one can never have too many friends. * But when your friends are nothing but grumps, well, they can go soak their heads. I started for the refrigerator and then remembered that I could no longer turn to my most necessary scrapbook supply, a six-pack of Diet Dr Pepper. ** Now that I was pregnant, I’d sworn off any artificial sweeteners. I reminded myself that my friends were one of life’s greatest blessings. Why, just last week, it was cold, dark and pouring rain when I suddenly heard a “Pow!”as my worn rear tire exploded. Since the highway was deserted, I’d phoned Clancy and she’d come to my rescue.*** And the week before, I’d had a terrifying dream that the doctor told me I was having twins! **** When I told Margit how scary that was, she’d put an arm around me and given me a hug.

Soon I would be feeling my baby kick inside my swollen belly. ***** And this child would be born into a wonderful circle of friends.

But why did they all have to be so grumpy? How come it was always MY responsibility to come up with a way to make money for our store? But then I shook off my bad mood. After all, I had nothing to complain about, especially compared to Teresa’s sister, Juanita. Now being deported, THAT was a problem.

I sighed and sat down at my work table. There had to be a way I could fix everything. Okay, ALMOST everything. All I needed was to think…


Special thanks to– *Christy Egan, **Elizabeth B. Jensen, ***Lynn Tondro Bisset, ****Ginny Kiernan Dahlberg and *****Ellen McCaffrey

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