The run back home to change for work gave me the kick of adrenaline I needed to wake up. I tossed my wash in the dryer and ran through the shower to rinse the sweat out of my hair. I braid it wet for work—goes with the uniform. Plus by shift end, my long hair is dry and ready for a night out.
Today I appear in Court as an expert witness. The pictures I take of arson scenes are used to convict criminals but this is the first time I will be standing in the box next to the Judge. I don't mind questions it's the staring that messes with my head. I'm going to do it and not think about it till after it's over. The case is cut and dry. I'm only there to answer questions.
My mother would be proud of me today—I think. She bought me the camera I use as a happy new job present the year she passed. It feels like more than just a piece of technology to me. It's odd to say but the camera feels more like a weapon. I use it to reveal the truth about bad people burning things down and hurting people.
Anyway, it's a big day for me professionally and I didn't tell my family about the court appearance. Just in case it goes bad. I don't want to hear crap from them too. I'm hitting the office early to gather my things and get my coworker her baby tea from Tea Tilly, it's the least I can do since I set her up with her baby daddy.
Walking in the office doors the silhouette of a bulbous prego lady was all anyone could see. "Marie what are you doing standing up?"
"I need to stand up sometime. Oh, no way is that tea for me?"
"Yep, the lady says the baby is going to slide right out." I put my hand lightly on Marie's distended stomach. "Special Red raspberry and ginger blend."
"If that were true the line for her tea would be around the block."
"True but every little thing helps. Nobody likes sitting in the waiting room waiting for six or seven hours. We all got better shit to do." Marie swatted my arm and grabbed her tea. I led her to her desk and helped her sit down in her ergonomically pristine chair.
"Hey, I hear you got your claws in ol Johnny Murphy. Ha, he's not so bad looking since he shaved that God awful scraggly beard."
"Ugg, who told you."
"Cheryl did. He's my sister's best friend's ex-brother in law."
"I'm going to hunt her down. She made me wear that sparkly peach fricken bridesmaids dress and now she's spreading stories."
"Are they lies?" Marie squeaked.
"Oh, honey you get no privacy. We live through you now. Tell me what happened."
"I brought him home with me. I don't think the earth shattered. I kinda remember he was a good kisser but..."
"But what? Is he little. Oh wait, is he a crier?"
"A crier? No, the pig farted in my sheets after he whined for coffee and dry-humped my favorite pillow."
My boss Mike walked in and stood like a statue in the doorway staring at us. Mike is a quiet man, married for thirty years to the same woman, likes to fish. I'm certain the phrase dry-hump never passed through his mustache covered lips.
"Walsh? This isn't a locker room."
"No Sir, but look how pregnant she is. Poor thing." Marie pouted and sipped her straw loudly. "I entertain her with my stories. I introduced her to her husband. It's almost like I did this to her myself." My boss shook his head and walked back out of the room.
"They all fart," Marie explained as if she were imparting some sage wisdom. "They just do and there isn't anything to change that fact."
"I kicked him out and told him not to text me."
"Holy shit, we are looking for Jesus again."
"No, no. Don't start that nonsense with me, Marie."
"You didn't like my baby brother—he was too clingy. You didn't like Cheryl's cousin—he was a sloppy kisser. Your last boyfriend was, how did you put it, too manicured."
"He shaves everything including his balls. It takes fucking forever." Mike walked past the office again and shook his head.
Gina from accounting poped around her doorway just in time to save me from another lecture from Mike. "You need to use a dating app, that's how I found my second husband."
"Nah most of them on the app's are married. I use the bar and the three drink rule."
"How's that working out for you. Has your tall, employed, intelligent, funny, handsome Jesus Christ of a man that doesn't fart come into your bar to buy you three drinks?"
"No, so I will keep looking."
"A man that doesn't fart is probably gay and doesn't want you anyway," Gina explained, taking a long sip of her coffee and eyeing Marie.
"She kicked the last one out cause he farted in her bed."
"Oh, no. Next, please. That is not a good sign." Gina's phone began to ring taking her away from the conversation.
"I need to prep for Court at one so I better scoot."
"Oh, miss fancy pants. I will sit here and keep my eye out for the second coming. Thanks for the tea, Sweetie. Better luck next time."
My boss walked by again and motioned for me to follow him into the hallway. I patted Marie on the shoulder and quickly caught up to Mike.
"We got a call this morning about mudslides out at the river historical site. Then we got a call about tombstones floating onto the edge of the Taylor farm."
"Tombstones? From the old landing?"
"We don't know. I'm sending an engineer and two crews from power and water out to check it out. I need you to supervise the site and document the damage. I need to know what's really going on."
"Sure thing but my Court thing is today at one. I can't be out watching them too long."
"The Court and City Hall is closing down. All the workers are being sent home. The main power lines feed downtown once they go down so do all the business in that section."
"No problem Cheif, I will get down there and report back to you."
"Walsh, I need your trained eye. If the power lines fall on that overgrowth around the river pathways and spark. I've called for funding to clear the areas but I didn't call loudly enough if you understand what I'm saying."
"Sure. Maybe we get the new recruits out on cut back and fire break training after this passes, Chief."
"I think that's an excellent idea." Mike dropped his hand on my shoulder and screwed his bottom lip into a scowl. "The crew will be downstairs soon. Take the new white four by four and get me some answers."
"Yes Sir," I jogged to my cubicle and dropped off my personal gear, grabbed my work bag, and my camera pack. Marie waved at me and raised her eyebrows as I grabbed a radio and hurried out the door.
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