A story inspired by the book of Hosea

Jan 31, 2015

Chapter 2b

   Sal’s candy store was located on Quentin Road and 35th Street. It was a great location and close to his home. His mother had named it when the store belonged to his father. Sugar Buddies was a simple name that everyone knew, so he saw no need to change it. When Sal pulled up to the candy store, the neon open sign in the window was on. It meant Margaret would be behind the counter, as usual. He was grateful for her diligence. He sat in his car for a moment, wondered why he couldn’t shake the feeling that some- thing was wrong. He grabbed his cell phone and was about to call home, when he was startled by a knock on the driver’s side window. The last person he expected to see was Rose. He got out of the car. “Rose! What a pleasant surprise. It’s been ages since I’ve seen you.” He reached out to hug her, but decided to hold back instead. 

   “Yeah, it has been.” Awkward silence followed. The last time he had seen Rose was the day he met Vickie. It was as if six years had not passed. Her auburn hair cascaded down to her mid back,
straight and shinny. Her crystal blue eyes sparkled as they did when they first met. She looked stunning in her fitted blue jeans and red high heels. Rose always overcompensated for her five-foot frame with high heels. He was amazed that she could walk in them. “How have you been?” he asked.

   “I’ve been good. You?”

   “Good.” Sal had a hard time collecting his thoughts. The sight of her took him right back to when they first met at college orienta- tion. “It’s been a long time.”

   “Yeah,” she nodded. “So... how’s your... I want to say, son, right?”

   “He’s amazing. He’ll be starting school soon.”

   “That’s good. You look great.” Her embarrassment made him smile.

   “Thanks. You look like you always did, beautiful.” She bit her lower lip as she blushed. He used to love it when she did that. “I heard you got married and moved out of state.”

   “Yeah... um... my husband died last year in a car accident. That’s why I moved back home. It was too hard staying in Washington without him,” she said longingly.

   The sadness in her eyes moved Sal. He hadn’t known about the accident, or that he died. “I’m so sorry to hear that.”

   The mood had changed as awkwardness draped over them again. Rose broke the silence. “It was nice to run into you. Maybe we could have coffee some time and catch up.” He nodded his head and smiled.

   As Rose walked away he wondered why he broke it off. Oh yeah, Vickie. He wanted to patch up their relationship, but Vickie got pregnant. Being married to her really turned out well, didn’t it? If only he went after Rose that day... it didn’t matter now. He headed inside. Margaret was behind the counter. She looked up when she heard the side door open. “Morning.”

   “Good morning, Margaret.” Margaret was an older woman of Irish decent, who lost her husband five years ago. She had worked for Sal since. Gray hair and deep wrinkles added a sense of wisdom to her persona. She didn’t have any children of her own, but was motherly and protective toward Sal.

   “What’s wrong?”

   “What? Nothing’s wrong.” Sal tried to sound sincere.

   “Well, Salvatore you don’t look right. You look like a man with a burden on his heart,” she said matter-of-factly.

   He never understood how she did that. It was like she could read his mind. “I’m fine. After I do inventory I’m going home for a little while.”

   “You’re the boss. You needn’t justify your actions to the likes of me. But if you ask me, you don’t look quite right.”

   “Truly, I’m fine.”

   She looked at him over her glasses. “As you wish.”

   He walked into the back room where his small office was located. The room barely had enough space for his desk, much less anything else, but it suited him. He sat down to gather his thoughts. He ran his hands through his hair and controlled the urge to scream. Something was not right with Vickie—he felt it. If life wasn’t complicated enough, Rose was back in town. He couldn’t believe the old feelings that stirred within him. What’s wrong with you? He grabbed his clipboard and headed for the storage room to check inventory. 

           *          *         *         *          *          *          *         *         *          *   

   Vickie watched Joey color in his book at the kitchen table. The knock on the door startled her. “You stay put, Joey.”

   He looked up at her, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Okay, Mommy.” He went back to his crayons.

   She wiped the sweat from her brow as she approached the front door. She looked in the wall mirror next to the door and noticed a smudge on her face. She quickly dabbed it off and opened the door.

   “Good morning, dear. I hope I’m not interrupting.” Mrs. Delfeno wasn’t whom she expected.

   “Not at all. Joey’s inside coloring in his book.”

    “I baked cookies this morning and thought Joey would enjoy some.”

   “How sweet of you.” Vickie noticed Phil coming up the stairs. He had the good sense to back off when he saw she wasn’t alone. “Mrs. Delfeno would you like Joey to come down for a visit?” Quick thinking Vick.

   “I would be delighted,” she nearly squealed with excitement.

   “Joooooey, come here!”

   Joey came running to the front door. He saw the plate of cookies in Mrs. Delfeno’s hands. “Mrs. D. is that for me?”

   Mrs. Delfeno bent over and handed Joey the plate. “Why don’t you give this to your Mom for later.”


   “Well, I thought you could come down and have some cookies at my house. I just bought a new book that I would love to read to you.”

   “Yeah! Let’s go.” Vickie grabbed the plate of cookies from Joey. He hugged her leg and grabbed Mrs. Delfeno’s hand.

   “You be a good boy now, Joey.”

   “Okie dokie, Mommy.”

   “What time would you like me to bring Joey back up?”

   “If you don’t mind, I’m going to take this opportunity to take a nice nap. I feel a migraine coming on. Would you mind if I came down for Joey when I get up?” What a tangled web.

   “Of course that’s fine. He’s welcome to stay as long as you need dear.”

   Vickie watched Joey skip towards the elevator. She glanced over to the stairs, but didn’t see Phil. The elevator door closed. She won- dered if Phil left. At that moment, he came back up the steps. He looked at Vickie in a way that made her feel as if she was a piece of rare steak being dangled in front of a hungry lion.

   “Hey baby, you’re looking good,” Phil said as he licked his lips.

    “Get in here before someone sees you.” She grabbed him by the arm, as she pulled him into the apartment.

    His eyes scanned her up and down. As he looked fiercely into her eyes, he said, “You look delicious.”

   “Stop it! If you came here just to be a pig you can go home.”

    “Oh baby, such harsh words. We haven’t seen each other in a very long time.” He walked up to her as he extended his arms. “What... no hug?”

   “Seriously, Phil, why are you here?”

   “Better question is why did you let me come? You’ve dodged my calls for months.” Phil walked over to the couch and made himself comfortable. He pats the cushion next to him. “Come... sit. I have something for you.”

   Vickie didn’t move. “I’ve been clean for the last six months, Phil. I don’t want anything you have.” Even Vickie wasn’t convinced of her resolve.

   Phil pulled out a little plastic bag. The white powder illuminated in his hand. She took a deep breath. Her glaze fixated on his every action. She watched as he placed a small mirror slowly on the coffee table and proceeded to make those familiar lines. She felt her heart race with excitement. Mesmerized, she inched her way to the couch and sat. At that moment she realized she still had the plate of cookies in her hand. She placed the plate next to the mirror. I have better control now. A little can’t hurt. 

© Nadine Zawacki 2015

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