Jessica and I left the store at seven in the evening. Then we drove back to our apartment at 6th Lincoln Street in her car. I didn’t have a car yet then. I used to drive an old, yellow truck during high school but, once I graduated, my younger sister, Poppy, took claim over it. I’ve started saving up for one so, my hope was that by the end of the month or in two months, I could buy one. Most probably a used car.
I wasn’t the richest girl you’d know. Heck, I had been working odd jobs my whole life to help my superwoman mom, Freida, support the family. My dad remarried and only God knows where he is now. We had learned to not even think about him. I was lucky enough to have gotten half-scholarship to college.
On the way, we stopped by an ice cream shop called Frosty Spoon, which was nearest to our apartment, for some shakes. I opened my phone and turned on the internet data. Soon, the wattpad notifications came shooting in like a machine gun.
“Oh shoot!” I gasped, dropped my straw and immediately began fumbling with my phone.
I’d forgotten to switch on the silent mode before opening the data. With the amount of notifications I get every second these days, I was compelled to keep my phone in silent mode so long as the data is on. Otherwise, the phone kept on ding-ing every now and then. Every customer in the store was now looking at me incredulously. Some amused. Some shocked. I particularly spotted a group of most-probably-college-boys at a table on our right looking over at me and chuckling among themselves. From the chair right across me, Jessica too was unable to hide her smile. Her blue eyes bright with amusement.
“You and your notifications.” She shook her head at me.
“God.” I exhaled a sigh of relief as peace once more settled in the store.
Leaning back on her chair and biting on her straw, she joked. “I should start wearing bullet-proofs whenever you open your internet. It’s like there a while notification war going on in there.”
I laughed with her. I had only begun writing on this online writing site called Wattpad just about a couple months ago and in about three months, I had garnered about 2M reads on my only book on the site and 7.2K followers, which in turn resulted in the machine-gun-notifications. I was writing a cheesy teen fiction filled with funny scenes there just to see how it goes for me. I had come across lucky. My readers enjoyed it.
“But I’m glad you’re getting the attention you deserve.” Jessica said.
“Don’t you find the story too cheesy?” I asked her, tugging on my lips.
“It’s okay. You enjoy writing that, don’t you?”
“Oh yeah, I do.” I grinned at her, floating in the fantasy of the swoony male main character (MC).
I had saved the best story ideas I had from Wattpad since I was new to the site and little apprehensive about plagiarism. So for starters, I decided to write on one of the most trending topic on the site - badboys, with a few twists here and there. And I enjoyed writing it. The thrill of fangirling on the bad boy MC along with my readers was just too fun.
For some time, Jessica and I sat there in the store laughing over the funny comments I got in my book. When we went to pay, Jessica picked up a small flyer from the counter and showed it to me.
“Take a look at this. You said you wanted a new job.”
“Hmm?” I looked at her and moved in to read it.
Working as a cashier right after college was giving me less time to write and I needed all the time to write, to think, to dream, to device my plotlines, to read. . . Since I had also started to earn from writing online. From Wattpad, I had been contacted by other websites to put my work on their site as well. Then I would get paid. I had accepted the offer. At least in one of the sites.
The flyer was addressed to a website that had a list of part-time and full-time job offers from Coasuta citizens.
“I should check it out.” I nodded and searched up the website.
As we drove back to our apartment, I read out the list of jobs open to Jessica to weight the pros and cons, find the one best suitable for me. Data entry, marketing, cashier, babysitting, tutoring, receptionist, cleaning drive, yada yada yada.
“Tutoring or babysitting.” Jessica said, looking ahead at the road.
“Right.” I agreed and continued skimming over the list.
I tried reading out the descriptions to her, the time schedule, grade of students. . . And so we went from one to the next.
“‘Urgent! Babysitting a four-year-old princess for three hours starting from 3:30 to 6:30 pm. Plus tutoring. Somehow.’ Okay.” I nodded. “’Payment can be negotiated but it will most probably be $40 each for the first two hours and $30 for the next one hour. You gotta come over here to our palace. Job open for a limited time. You won’t get another opportunity like this. For further details, contact MisterPuddinPants@gmail.com
Best regards, The King’.”
“Hmm. This one sounds perfect to me.” Jessica offered with a thoughtful nod. “I mean, with the time schedule and everything, you might not get another one like that. The pay’s not bad either. Many college students will probably be pitching for that.”
“Right.” I agreed, wagging a forefinger in the air.
“When was it posted?”
“Umm. Couple hours ago. I’m going for this before I’m too late.” I said as I clicked on the email address.
I sent a mail to MisterPuddinPants right away, telling I was a college student with my name and that I was up for the job. Within minutes, my phone dinged with a reply.
MisterPuddinPants@gmail.com : “Are you decent?”
“What?” I frowned over the phone a little flustered.
Another ding in within a second.
MisterPuddinPants@gmail.com : “I mean, I would want the best for my Princess. Not someone too swag. Just the right amount of such. You know what I mean.”
I couldn’t help but laugh a bit at how odd and funny I was finding this MisterPuddinPants.
I replied, “Decent enough to not pole dance with your daughter and set the house on fire.”
MisterPuddinPants@gmail.com : “Excellent. Payment will be as stated. Weekly payout. You are welcomed to start right away tomorrow. Address - ComeAtMeBaby Street (you know I’m kidding). You’ll seriously, seriously find us at 1846 Walnut Lane, 2nd Jefferson St., House No. 5, Landmark - Jefferson’s Public Library. Forgot to mention the address on the bulletin. Hope it’s convenient for you.”
The choice of words and the very oddly humorous content of Mr. PuddinPants’ emails had me second guessing the job for a moment. He was either a really funny guy or a complete weirdo. But then he amused me so much that I had the urge to meet this guy. If I found him too weird to be true, I’d leave the job. But nonetheless, I was more than curious to meet him. I was interested.
“Perfect. See you tomorrow Mr. PuddinPants??” I emailed back.
MisterPuddinPants@gmail.com : “Very well then, Miss Decent. Goodnight.”
Jessica and I took the elevator to our apartment at 2nd floor The Stone House, rereading MisterPuddinPants’ emails and laughing over how hilarious we found it. Once we got into our home sweet home of two bathroom-attached bedrooms, one living room, a kitchen and a cute balcony, which Jessica and I planned on adorning with plants, we headed to our bedrooms to shower before cooking.
I fell into my bed drained. I never liked the crowd very much. Working at the department store always had me half-dead every evening from all the noise and the rush, the late August heat, the conversations I had with strangers every minute or so. I could chatter endlessly if I start but most times, I’d prefer my mouth zipped and mind open to fantasies.
After shower, we fell into our usual routine of cooking and eating, staring at our laptops and then sleeping. The following morning was as normal as usual followed by an even more normal college day. . . until the time for me to finally embark on an adventure at 1846 Walnut Lane finally arrived.
I took the bus from a bus-stop at my street all the way to the bypass at 2nd Jefferson Street, stopping right next to the public library. From there, I walked to 1846 Walnut Lane following the street signs.
From the way I saw it, I found the neighborhood to be very peaceful and cozy, neatly uniform and adorable. All the houses looked almost identical with pretty green yards. As far as I could see on both sides of the road, all houses were two storied, painted with dark gray and white borders. All the porches were white and adorable.
Bradford Pears - not walnuts - lined the streets, casting shadows on the black top and forming a bright picture of the color scheme of yellow-orange as though a herald to tell that the fall was approaching. I passed by a few children on skateboards and bikes on the road. With a pleased smile on my lips as though I was walking through heaven with a halo over my head, since my neighborhood was much busier than this, I suddenly realized I had passed House No. 5.
I walked back one house, stepped up the porch and rang the doorbell. Then, I checked the time in my phone. I was already fifteen minutes late.
Way to go on your first day of work, Sophia.
Moments later, the door pulled open and I met a familiar pair of steely green eyes. The very adjective to define my state of reaction when I saw him was ‘shocked’. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe that I was seeing him again.
The scary stranger.
Then after the passing of a second, my lips were twitching in amusement. I could barely contain my laughter as realization settled on me that this stranger with an exterior so tough could possibly be MisterPuddinPants. It was hilarious.
“MisterPuddinPants?” I giggled out right on his face.