When I Look at You

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Chapter Sixteen

“You are a LIFESAVER!” Jenna said forty five minutes later as Blaine and I entered the art gallery. Blaine had given me a ride in his Dad’s van since his truck was still sitting tireless in his driveway from Hannah’s act of vandalism. She was stacking boxes in the middle of the office labeled card stock. She gave Blaine a hard glared before turning to smile at me. “Let me show you how to run the cash register quick while Blaine runs these out to my truck.” Blaine made a noise in his throat as he released my hand. His mother looped her arm with mine and pulled me towards the front of the gift shop on the other side of the building.

The cash register was located on the front counter of the store front. There were two doors to the gallery and one was a large double door at the front of the gift shop. There was snacks, smaller prints of the photographs from the exhibit and other trinkets from people in town that they were trying to sell displayed on the glass shelves around the small room. Walking over to the register, I stood next to her as she pushed a few buttons.

“Most of it is just simple math. You add everything up here and then hit this button right here.” She pointed to a larger button on the left hand side of it. “It’s pre-programmed with the right amount of sales tax. It does all the figuring out for you. Once you hit that, the draw will open and you can give out the change. Since it’s a one man show around here, we leave a bell on the desk and when people are ready to cash out, they just ring it for our attention. The whole place has cameras so it’s not like they can take off with anything out the door. For inventory, all the snacks and the canvases are stored in the back office where we just were. Any of the unique stuff like the statues and trinkets, once they are gone are gone. You just have to write what item it was and the price on the spread sheet underneath so I can let our vendors know what’s selling and what isn’t. Any questions?” I shook my head, trying my best to remember it all. “I’m sure Blaine will be hanging around when you are working. He knows how it all works. He just refuses to work for me. Silly boy.” I followed her as she headed towards the main gallery hall. “When there isn’t any customers in the guest shop, your job will be to keep this area clean and tidy. Over the course of this week, we usually see any where between seven hundred to a thousand people a day. So it can get quite hectic in here.”

“A day?! That’s impressive.” I said, looking around. This month’s exhibit had changed since I had been here last. It now showcased a painter by the name of R.F Grant. His work was mostly water colors of ocean scenes I noticed. The work was beautiful but I wasn’t much of an art person. Photography is one thing, art is a complete mystery to me.

“Thanks! This week, we are having a special viewing of R.F Grant’s paintings. He’s a local man who passed away a few months ago and left his art to the larger art gallery in Charleston. It’s currently on tour and this is one of the spots! It’s only here for a few more days though. Then we pack it all up and it’ll head to it’s next stop. You will not have to touch any of the art pieces like this because I contract someone with an art degree for that. Way too much could go wrong with that stuff. I don’t even do it unless I absolutely have to. So besides the store and cleaning, all you really do is file. Does that sound like something you could handle?”

“Yes, ma’am!” I replied, smiling at her. Even though she was being nice to me, I still felt this sense that Jenna was wary of me. Almost as if she thought I was going to stab her at any second. She kept edging away from me every now and then. I took a step back, keeping our distance between each other when she wasn’t looking.

“Great! I’ll pay you $100 a week. I know it’s not much but it’s about all I can afford to give you under the table. Does that sound okay?” I nodded. “Okay! I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow morning then!” Blaine appeared next to me, sweat pouring down his face.

“Could have told me that those boxes weighed more than a ten ton brick, Mom.” He panted, cleaning the sweat off his glasses with his white t-shirt. She put a hand on her hip and gave him a look of faux amusement.

“You poor, poor thing. How dare I give you such a hard task like manual labor. I’m sure it just broke you.” She shot me a wink as she turned to head back to her office.

“Do you see how my own mother treats me?” He asked, turning to face me.

“Oh yes. I know see why you dated Hannah: you like being mentally abused by women.”

“You caught me. I mean look how you talk to me.”

“Hey!” I said, smacking him in the arm. He grinned, grabbing my hand and kissing the back on it. “So what do you have planned for today?”

“I gotta help my dad get stuff ready for a gig this weekend. We’re coming over for dinner though afterwards. I’ll see you then.”

After Blaine dropped me back off at the house, I tried calling my mom a couple times. I hadn’t really heard much from her in the past couple of days besides a text here or there. It went to voicemail though each time so I left her a quick one telling her to call me. Dad was sitting in the kitchen reading his tablet over a pair of reading glasses as I entered. I giggled slightly when I saw him as I opened the fridge. “What’s so funny?” He asked, looking up at me.

“You look like Grandpa Oliver when you read.” I said, shrugging.

“Oh yeah? Is it my bald spot?” He ruffled up his hair as if to cover a bald spot that wasn’t there.

“Oh totally.” Leaning up against the counter, I opened the water bottle I had grabbed from the fridge and took a sip.

“Surprised you aren’t with Blaine.” He said, setting his tablet down.

“He’s helping Greg pack up for this gig this weekend. I’ll see him when they come over for dinner tonight.”

“Oh.” He said, taking his glasses off. “Kerri, did Mom ever have the...talk with you?”

“The talk?” I asked, looking at him confused.

“You know. About boys….and sex.” He said softly, practically whispering.

“Oh! Yes! Ew! We are not doing this!” I said, heading towards my room.

“I just want to make sure you and Blaine are being safe-”

“Dad! Cut it out!” I exclaimed, opening my door. “I’ve only known him for a week! Give me a break!” I shut the door behind me, hearing him laughing on the other side of it.

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