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Macabre: the Gothic Boutique

By G.S. Glow All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Other

01

Macabre: the Gothic Boutique

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I frowned at the purple and black flyer stuck to my car windshield. Snatching the flapping paper, I took a step back eyeing my car, or Smo as I liked to call it. The truth is that my car was evil, evil to the core. Christine had nothing on Smo.

I lifted the garish advertisement and read it again. “Three-hundred—” I tried to whistle but it sounded more like a fart. I glanced over my shoulder making sure no one had heard my lame attempt. “Are these people high?”

Smo had holes in the floor and cracked leather seats that pinched. Passengers had to straddle either side of the floor or risk losing a foot. The AC spat out a molding, blue cheese smell. If I wanted music I had to sing to myself. Now, maybe the people distributing this flyer didn’t know that, but the gaping holes and rust spots on the outside of the brown death trap were obvious. Either they didn’t have eyes or they were on some serious shit.

The paper crinkled as I fisted it. Not having the heart to litter, I opened the door and tossed it in the back seat. Swinging my work bag off my shoulder, it followed, landing across the caving seats. I shook my keys out of my pocket and plopped down. Heaving a sigh, I smoothed my hands over the steering wheel and tried to swallow down the guilt of hating my car.

I’d wanted to get rid of this car so many times, but it fell to two things: I was broke and the car had been a ‘going-away-college’ gift from my dad. He loved projects and rationalized its condition to me because it was a classic that ‘the two of us could fix up together.’ More like a classic piece of junk I figured, but who can beat free? Plus, I was too ashamed to tell him that I could barely afford rent let alone new parts for a ’71 Oldsmobile.

The really sad part was that Dad thought I was attending my first year at the University of New Orleans. The truth was that none of us could afford my college tuition. So I lied and told my parents I’d gotten a full ride.

“Sorry, Pops,” I whispered, knocking my knuckles against the dashboard. “Fourteen more months and I’ll have enough for the first two semesters.”

I worked third shift at a nursing home. Normally, I liked interacting with residents, but third shift paid more and it allowed me and Maggie, my best friend and tag-a-long, to search for another job during the day. No luck yet, though Maggie didn’t do serious looking like I did.

Frowning, I glanced back at the flyer. I guess we haven’t tried everywhere.

I aimlessly reached into my bag, searching for my cell phone to call Maggie. “Mags, pick up! Its seven AM, time to start looking. You’re dad’s not gonna give you any more money if you don’t pay off your credit cards and you can’t do that if you don’t have a job so you better be awake when I get there!” I turned in my seat, and squeezed my arm between the middle consoles to reach for the paper. “I think I have somewhere you might like too.”

Maggie’s father had money. A lot of it... he was some CEO founder of this large company that I didn’t care about, but apparently other people did. He wasn’t super stingy with his money, but when Maggie said she was moving with me to New Orleans he pitched a fit. I wasn’t exactly his favorite person. I was the Podunk girl from the wrong side of the tracks, whose parents lived paycheck to paycheck, and allowed their daughter to get multiple piercings from an unlicensed gang member making some side money. Not to mention the hair... the day I met Maggie’s father I’d looked like a bad version of Sailor Neptune. Even now, I colored my black hair, but with my new job I graduated to just coloring the bottom tips of my long curly mane. This week it was tipped purple. According to him, I would forever be that poor girl who always got his beloved daughter into trouble.

I scowled as I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex. The broken pebbles and weed infested cracks made for a bumpy ride as I pulled into my parking spot. Another month here and I’d probably need some replacement tires. Unfortunately, saving money for college meant crappy living conditions. All complete with a small bathroom, a possessed stove that turned on in the middle of the night, and trying to convince Maggie that Spaghetti-o’s and ramen were a major food group.

An obnoxious knock rattled the window. I turned to scowl at the tall brunette with a high ponytail. Why she insisted on having it so high all the time was behind my comprehension, she looked like a deranged cheerleader. Carefully, I rolled down the window realigning it after every inch it went down. “Hey, would you be easy on the merchandise?”

Maggie bent down, settling her arms against the door. Her hazel eyes twinkled with excitement. “Be ready an hour early tonight. We’re gonna party.”

“Maggie-”

“No! Don’t start!” Maggie pointed at me. “It’s your weekend off and all we’ve been doing for the past month is job searching and working... well, you’ve been working. I’ve been stuck inside that horror –” she pointed back at the apartment complex “-for too long. I need to do something productive.”

“Your idea of productive is drink, barf, repeat,” I mumbled.

Maggie nodded. “Exactly.”

“We don’t have the money to go out.”

“Have you looked at me and you lately? We won’t be buying anything!”

I heaved a sigh and rolled my eyes.

“Seriously Bee, can’t we just get breakfast, sleep all day, and party all night?”

“Yes to two of those.”

Maggie pouted and stomped her foot. She knew which ones I was thinking about. “You’re no fun anymore!”

I rubbed my temples. “I’m just tired, Mags. I wanna be sixteen again, when I didn’t have to worry about where to live or how I was going to pay for it.”

Maggie pulled open the door and reached for my hand to get me out of Smo. “I know and I’m sorry I’m not helping. Daddy’s going to give in soon, and then you won’t have to work so much. I’ll pay for everything!”

“You can’t always depend on your dad to fix things for you. As much as we despise each other, I’m with him on this decision. You don’t want to stay in your fathers shadow your whole life, do you?”

She shrugged and held up two hands, visibly weighing her options. “Free money or hard work? It’s a no brainer.”

The snort I let out tickled my nose. “I got a place we haven’t tried applying at yet.”

“Ooh, me too,” Maggie said and reached into her Coach bag. She fished out a purple piece of paper that looked suspiciously like the gaudy piece of work I’d gotten on my windshield.

“Macabre the Gothic Boutique,” she started, but I stopped her by holding up a finger and wiggling my own identical advertisement in her face.

“I got one too,” I said.

“I was thinking I could use one of my credit cards and buy this. It’d be pretty interesting.”

Maggie used to have only one credit card with no limit, but when her father took it away a month ago she’d applied for other cards and was working her way to maxing them all out. For the most part, I kept quiet about her spending habits. Especially since it’s October and Halloween is just around the corner, but three-hundred dollars for something this stupid wasn’t going to happen.

“Maggie, this is the biggest Halloween rip-off I’ve ever seen. I can’t let you do this.”

She pouted her lip-glossed lips and tugged gently on my hand. “Please?”

“No,” I said, stubbornly, but deflated quickly as my curiosity peaked. I bent down and reached for my bag before saying anything else. “Of course, I’m not opposed to looking around the shop after we put our applications in.”

Maggie brightened instantly, but failed to maintain the mischievous glint in her eyes. “Fabulous.”

“You won’t talk me into it. So don’t even think about it,” I said in warning. I settled the strap of my work bag on my shoulder and started walking towards our apartment.

“Well, we’ll see. It’s my money anyway. If I want to spend it on fake stuff I will. I’ll buy one for you too. That way we can have two experiences each.”

“Over my dead body,” I said gloomily and walked down the sidewalk that branched off towards five different groups of housings. “So what did you do today?”

Her petite nose wrinkled with disgust. “Fought with Patches... that kitten has it in for me!”

I smirked over my shoulder at her. “You’re the one that gives him a bath all the time.”

Maggie wiggled her shoulders and lifted her chin up with defiance. “He’s dirty. He uses the kitty litter box way too much. I think you over feed him.”

“He’s not dirty! If he didn’t use the litter box it’d be all over,” I said and glanced back when I reached the door. “I forgot my key.”

“So what else is new?” she mumbled and walked around me with her copy.

As soon as we walked in I shucked my blue crocs off and called out for him, “Patches, come to momma.”

When he didn’t come I walked into the now spotless living room and found his mostly gray body curled on the couch in a deep sleep. I called him Patches because he had a tiny white patch over his left eye but the rest of him was a blue-ish gray. I’d fallen in love the minute I saw him at the rescue shelter.

“Just look at him! He’s shedding all over the couch.” She paused and waved her small fist at him. “Get off, you little rodent!”

“Ah, leave him alone, Mags. He’s happy.”

“He’s fat!”

As one-year-old kittens go he was overweight, but the first six months of his life had been hard. I’d rescued him from starvation and ever since he got the good stuff. He definitely ate better than I did. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

“Fine, he’s fappy,” I said with a pouty lip.

I sat down and cuddled him into my lap. His blue eyes popped open and when he saw it was me he purred loudly. Maggie rounded the corner of the second hand navy blue couch and hissed at him. Patches turned and promptly hissed back.

“Oh you guys!” I rolled my eyes, feeling like I was in the middle of a sibling fight.

“Hurry and get changed. I’m gonna go change the kitty litter. That little beast is sure to have used it again,” Maggie said shooing me to hurry with her hands.

It wasn’t that I didn’t change the litter; it’s that I never had a chance too. Maggie is an obsessive-compulsive clean freak and I’m the exact opposite. It worked well. I didn’t have to clean up my mess because every time Maggie saw it, her petite little nose wrinkled up with disgust and she’d pick it up. She never complained... I wasn’t exactly a pig but I’d been known to let a few soda cans collect. I also wasn’t knocking her clean freak streak. She couldn’t help it; it was a compulsion. When she was little her idea of ‘fun’ was to help her maids scrub the tiled floors of the bathroom with a toothbrush. So, she’s a little crazy...

“Okay my love,” I whispered against his ear before pressing a kiss to his wet nose, “gotta go change.”

He mewed and settled back into the couch, but when he realized I’d gotten up he arched his back and jumped off to follow me. The apartment was a two bedroom, one bath, and a kitchen with washer and dryer hook-ups. So we had to cook and do laundry in the kitchen. When we first looked at it Maggie had been appalled. She’d fanned her face, called her father, and told him she couldn’t live like this. He hung up on her. Her behavior afterwards still made me giggle when I thought about it. It really wasn’t that bad. Two bird’s, one stone, I figured. Make food, do laundry.

I stopped in front of the washer and shucked my scrubs in before walking down the hall to my bedroom. I grabbed my favorite red and black plaid button up from my bed and went over to the dirty clothes hamper in the corner to pull out my favorite blue jeans.

I turned to see Maggie standing in the doorway, scowling at me. “I wish you would just let me do your laundry. You would never wear dirty clothes if it was up to me.”

I was willing to let her clean up after me and change the kitty litter, but I put my foot down when it came to my laundry. “You’re my best friend, not my mother. I can do my own laundry. You do too much already.”

“You pay all the bills. Let’s call it even. I have a clean pair of jeans...”

I held my hand up, cutting her off. “You’re about three sizes smaller than me. I happen to like breathing.”

Maggie sighed and dropped her head against the side of the doorway. “Two sizes and besides, you look great in my jeans. They really accentuate your ass. If I had an ass like yours I’d want to wear a few sizes too small all the time.”

“I’ll stick with my baggy jeans.”

“Did you get until next Friday off?”

Her sudden question made my heart hurt and I collapsed onto the bed. It was another problem with being an adult. I shook my head.

“You always ask the week of Halloween off. You didn’t get it?”

“I didn’t even ask. I can’t ask for a week off at a new job.”

I loved everything about Halloween; the decorating, the dressing up, the passing out and consumption of candy, and then going to the late night party afterwards. No matter what I was doing, whether it was my part time job back home or issues with school, I would put everything on hold for that one week out of the year. Haunted houses every day, if possible, until Halloween included, but I was a newbie at work and I couldn’t afford the time off. Not this time.

I shook my head, feeling the weight of reality and adulthood rearing its ugly head. I wanted that time off so bad, but my budget wouldn’t allow it and if I’d asked they probably would’ve looked at me like I was high.

“Oh Bee, I’m sorry.”

I shrugged it off. Life happens and being an adult sucked the big one. “It’s fine. I have a meeting with our event coordinator on Monday to see what we can do about a party. I spoke with him on the phone and he seemed pleased with my ideas. I think my group might be the only one enjoying the holiday though. Seems like the other caretakers aren’t celebrators, but I’m working on some of the nurses. Old Mr. Benson played off the idea as child’s play, but I think he’s secretly excited about it too.”

Mr. Benson was one of my favorites. He was an elderly nocturnal resident with a sense of humor that would make Richard Pryor proud if he were still alive. Though, sometimes, it verged on the dirty side and would occasionally include a light pat to my tush. It was all in good fun and I usually visited his room one extra time at the end of my shift so I could stay longer and chat with him.

“It’s more of a reason to go party... so let’s go.” Maggie sounded impatient. “Macabre will help you find your missing Halloween spirit. You know it will and since you have the weekend off,” she paused, “it is still your weekend off right?”

I nodded.

“We’ll use that spa gift card I got you for your birthday tomorrow.”

I bit my lip to keep from grinning too widely. “Thanks for telling me my present early.”

Maggie’s face scrunched into a frown. “Damn it!”

Another reason I loved Halloween was because it also happened to be my birthday. I tied my tennis shoes and stood up. “Don’t worry about it. I hope you didn’t spend too much on that spa gift card.”

She clucked her tongue and sneered. “I’m gonna get you something else now.”

“You better not, but since it’s my birthday in a few days, can I drive your car?”

Maggie pursed her lips, but pulled her arm from behind her back and dangled her keys in front of my face. “I know you too well,” she said with a chuckle.

I snatched the keys and darted towards the door. I may have hated my old beat up car, but her three month old Lexus was a different story.

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