**You can read the prologue here.
2 months ago –
Myrtle looked into the bathroom mirror once again. “I will have a good day at work. I will have a good day at work. Oh Fudge. Positive, schmositive. It’s going to be another boring Monday. There, I said it out loud. “ Sticking her tongue out and laughing at herself, Myrtle continued applying rouge to her cheeks.
Her first week of work was just what you would expect from an insurance agency. Tons of phone calls, stacks of paperwork and customers who wanted something for nothing. While Myrtle was thankful that Jimmy Davis had an opening for a receptionist in his new office, she found that the job wasn’t what she would have hoped. Even the building itself was yawn inducing. Taupe carpeting, beige walls and brass fixtures everywhere. If things were going to work out she was going to have to speak with Jimmy about making some changes. Maybe a little purple in the entryway.
With a chuckle, picturing the rich old bitty, Mrs. Barry, freaking out about purple walls at her next meeting, Myrtle did her final morning check. Earrings, charm bracelet, ladybug necklace (for luck, of course) and pink lipstick. A final spritz of Beautiful on each wrist and behind her ears and she was ready to face the day.
As she drove her aging Buick to the office, Myrtle’s thoughts were on the day ahead. She had decided to reorganize the filing system and wanted to get started before Jimmy changed his mind. His exact words on Friday were, “Miss Myrtle, I’ve been doing things the same way since I got out of college ten years ago and it’s been working. But, if you want to make some minor changes just be sure to let me know where to find my files.” “See I’m already making my mark,” Myrtle thought with a huff. “How exciting. A new filing system.”
Myrtle was the first to reach the office and as she unlocked the door, she stopped for a second and said a quick prayer that it would be a good day. The first order of business was to make some fresh coffee. Even though she had eaten a full breakfast with two cups of coffee, she knew that more caffeine would be required. Plus, Jimmy was an absolute bear if he didn’t get a large coffee with three spoons of sugar as soon as he walked in the door. One day she was going to have to sit him down to let him know that real men drink their coffee straight black with no add-ins. While he never discussed his marital status (or lack thereof), Myrtle was sure he wanted to find a woman for himself. And, she knew she would have to teach him a few thousand things about what women like. He just didn’t know it yet.
When Jimmy walked in the door, Myrtle handed him his coffee and his calendar for the day.
“What do you have for me today, Miss Myrtle?” asked Jimmy.
“You have a meeting at 9:00 with a new homeowner in town to discuss their coverage. The Smiths want to talk about their life insurance now that the kids have graduated college so I’ve got them set for 10:30. Then you have lunch with the town manager to discuss the liability coverage. All he could talk about when he called was that teenager who fell down and broke his leg at the last Watermelon Festival. He’s so worried they will get sued and go bankrupt that he’s getting an ulcer. I told him what I thought but I guess he wants to talk to you anyway.”
“Now, Miss Myrtle, I told you when you started that you aren’t licensed to give out insurance advice and you have to be careful about that. What did you say to him?”
“I just told him that if people want to act like fools and show out then it’s not the town’s fault.” Myrtle answered him defensively.
“Unfortunately, while I might agree with you personally, it’s not that simple. That’s why we have to be so careful about what we say.” Jimmy said gently.
“I understand, Little J. This is a crazy world. I’ll try to do better.”
“It’s okay. Just check in with me on things like that. And, you are right. It is a crazy world. “ Jimmy winked at Myrtle knowing that would make her feel better. “Oh yeah, Miss Myrtle, you know you can’t call me Little J in the office even though you did change my diapers. Remember our deal?”
As Jimmy walked away, Myrtle sighed with happiness as she thought of young Little J and the grown up man he had become. His Momma would have been so proud. She should to tell him that one day when he needed to hear it.
The first hours of the day passed uneventfully and Jimmy pulled himself together to head out for the lunch meeting. When the front door opened and Vera walked in, Myrtle was about to ask if she had come to take her to Mickey’s for lunch. One look at Vera’s face told Myrtle that their famous fried chicken wasn’t on her mind.
“Did you hear what happened?” Vera asked, on the verge of tears.
Jimmy rushed to her side and led her to the couch. “Please sit down, Miss Vera. Miss Myrtle will you please grab her some water? Now, put your head down between your knees for a few seconds to calm down. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.”
His words were just what Vera needed to clear her mind and she looked up with anger. “Young man, just because a woman may cry, it doesn’t mean she is hysterical. I am perfectly fine. I know you mean well, but don’t tell me to calm down.” Jimmy’s crestfallen face told Vera that she might have been too tough on him but she would have to worry about that later.
Patting Jimmy on the arm and looking over to Myrtle, she said the words that didn’t want to come. “Big Pop is dead. Someone murdered him in his car last night.”
© Mary Brown, Lowcountry Book Lover and lowcountrybooklover.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Brown and lowcountrybooklover.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any publication for profit is strictly prohibited without specific written consent by owner.