Monday, August 18, 2014

Chapter 22

"You can't be having any fun doing this. I remember Mom saying Dad hated shopping."

"I'm not your Dad," Sloan said thoughtfully as he looked over racks of things in the third store we'd been in. "For me this is research. Better research means better profits." I just looked at him waiting for him to explain. He glanced my way then stopped and told me, "I'm checking what the mark up is and what is moving and what isn't. Gives me a better idea of what to sell my inventory for." Turning back to the merchandise in the store he muttered, "Damn ... the prices of some of this stuff. Either I'm getting ripped off or the customers around here are ... I know this stuff is reclaimed so someone is making a killing."

Curious I asked, "How do you know it is reclaimed?"

"See the sku ... the inventory tracking number? See that code there? It's required by law on re-sales which is what reclaimed property is considered even if it was brand new to begin with."

"Oh ... I can help with your research."

Sloan snorted then thought better of whatever sarcastic answer he was about to give me. "Don't take this the wrong way Sweetheart but you are the kind of customer that stores hate to see coming." He said it like it was a new discovery. "You're too practical and you're holding onto my wallet like you dare anyone to even think about asking for money out of it."

I rolled my eyes and shook my head. "I'm not that bad ... and even if I am what's so horrible about it? You work hard for your money. I see you sweat buckets every day and stay up late working with Dan. It would be a sin to just waste what you work so hard to get."

He grinned and said, "But I miss being objectified. Didn't you get the memo? Women are supposed to be after men for the presents they can give them."

I frowned. "You are in a silly mood. Shopping is serious business. You take inventory at home, have a plan, make a list, and keep to your budget. If you don't do that today then you might not have any of that to do tomorrow."

"Ok, that's it," he said with a wicked glint in his eye. "You are now going to pay the consequences."

"What are you doing?" I whispered in horror as he started taking a bunch of women's lingerie off a table. He'd pick something up, look at me, shake his head and put it back down. "Stop it! People are starting to look."

"Let 'em. On second thought maybe not. I'm the only one that gets to look at you."

"Oh my gawd what has gotten into you? We're in public!" I hissed trying to make him stop as he went over to a rack of even racier items. I finally pulled him away and got him calmed down. "You are just ... I mean ... you better be glad I like you too much to bash you like you deserve."

He blinked like he was surprised and then grinned. "I'm a baaaaad boy."

"You sound like a goat, now behave."

For the next couple of shops he kept to his research. He wouldn't pester me about buying something so long as I didn't pick anything up so I made sure to keep my hands off no matter how tempting it might have been to touch. He was going to bypass a store until I saw what it was. He asked, "You wanna go in there?"

"I just want to see what the prices are."

"Teaghan ... if there is something you need."

I cringed then admitted. "Female ... stuff. I've only got a couple of months' supply left."

"How did you handle this with your father? From the sound of things ..."

"Ohhhh don't. It never came up so you just drop it."

"If it didn't come up then ..."

"Mom always had a lot laid in because with the three of us at home ... well it isn't like we could just go running to the drug store you know."

"Actually that's a good idea ... anything else you're running low on? Even if we don't get it today I can stay on the look out for it at the job sites."

I mentioned a few things and he wrote them down on his note pad but I was happy to see that the pharmacy actually had several items on my wish list ... mineral oil, citric acid, peroxide, epsom salts, and such. I nearly passed out when it was time to check out but the guy behind the counter looked overjoyed as he kept ringing things up. And when Sloan paid in certificates instead of scrip the guy looked like he wanted to reach over and kiss him. I had to bite my lips to keep from giggling at thinking what the look on Sloan's face would have been if it had actually happened.

The stores weren't busy so we drew more attention than I would have liked. Apparently Sloan started to feel the same way but he seemed determined to find lemon drops. He asked the man in the next store where Sloan bought the boys new belts and he said, "Sure ... Hattie down at the end. And since it's Thursday you might get some good deals if you have certificates. She always starts her new batches on Friday and gets rid of what stock she can before hand."

We walked down there bypassing several stores that might have been interesting to go in had I really needed sewing notions, house linens, or working in a store or office kind of clothes. But when we got to Hattie's I wasn't at all pleased by the prices ... even the so-called discounts. I also wasn't too happy with how snooty Hattie herself was. I don't know what I had imagined but it certainly wasn't what she was. With a name like Hattie and operating a sweets shop I would have thought she would be a granny or motherly type and as sweet as her confections. Try just the opposite. She was dressed like a professional lady in a magazine. Long legs, long neck, and a long nose she looked down at me with.

She sighed like she knew she was wasting her time and asked, "May I ... help you?"

"No," I told her succintly. I turned to leave but found Sloan looking around. The dollar signs must have been showing because Hattie's shop guard was bearing down on him ... until he spotted the bags that Sloan was carrying, then he stopped and signaled Hattie who said without even looking at me, "I'll be back in a moment."

I thought sure you will and just stood back to watch the show. I'd seen Sloan schmooze a couple of people that had come to the farm to look over his inventory and had learned to enjoy following him as he did his job. In short order he had Miz Hattie conversing with him as an equal, discussing inventory, cost of delivery, mark up, overhead costs, and all those other things that I had listened to Dan and Sloan discuss at night at the supper table before slipping off to the office where they discussed it some more.

From behind me a voice said, "Hattie is good isn't she?"

I turned to find a guy about my age - he would have been draft material if they'd still been doing it - and I shrugged. "Sloan is better."

"No way. Hattie can sweet talk anyone."

"We'll see. Is she your sister?"

"Sister? Are you kidding?! She's my boss. My job is to clean the shop and back area and there's a couple of other guys back there that make all the junk for out here." He got an extremely admiring look on his face, one that bordered on lovesick, and said once again, "She's great. The best."

I chuckled like I was going to let him go on thinking what he was thinking. Of course I didn't feel like chuckling but I wasn't going to let anyone else know that. Hattie was good. Yes Sloan was better, no doubt in my mind, but I'd finally gotten my first glimpse of "sophisticated" and it made me sick to my stomach. I also got a glimpse of how much Sloan liked sophisticated. I continued to smile when I shrugged and moved to leave the store. I saw the guard give me a hard stare - probably checking to make sure I wasn't walking off with anything - and then I slipped out the door.

Out where no one would notice I looked at myself as I passed the plate glass windows of the empty store next door. I was wearing one of Gram's dresses. I had thought I looked nice - or at least considerably better than I normally did in my work overalls - but compared to Hattie and the other women that were walking around in clusters or with a man I looked ... well I looked pretty awful, like someone playing dress up out of the attic boxes; which was pretty much exactly what I was doing.

I guess I stood out there almost an hour when finally Sloan came out in a hurry. He looked all over before he saw me and stopped short appearing relieved. He cleared his throat and said, "We need to go pick up the boys."


We got in the truck and after Sloan put the the bags he'd been carrying in the storage area we took off. We were silent for a while then he said gruffly, "She was out of lemon drops."

"No she wasn't. I saw them behind the counter. She wanted an arm and a leg for them though and it wasn't worth it."

Aggravated he asked, "Well why didn't you say anything?"

"You were talking business with her. I never interrupt when you're talking business."

"Business? Oh ... uh ... yeah. Actually ..." Then he fell silent before saying, "I lost track of time. Talking with other business owners who sell to the public lets me know what they need. Then I keep it in mind when I'm looking for reclamation sites to bid on. Easier to have a good potential customer than to hunt one up after you already have a boat load of stuff to get rid of. Anyway I looked at the clock and ... how long had you been standing outside?"

I shrugged, "Pretty much as soon as you two started talking."


"I told you ... I don't interrupt when you are talking business."

"What were you doing all that time?"

"Standing. Trying to stay out of people's way. Trying really hard to not look like the fool everyone must think me."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"It means I wished you would have told me that I looked ... like I look before we left the farm. I didn't mean to be an embarrassment."

His tone of voice said he knew exactly what I was talking about. "I ... Teaghan ..."

"Whatever it is, don't say it; I don't need the excuses. You keep thinking I'm ... I don't know ... some brainless ninny that you have to baby. Maybe I'm not sophisticated but that doesn't make me stupid Sloan. And it doesn't mean that I don't have eyes in my head. Or that I can't read the expressions on other people's faces. Or that I can't recognize sophisticated when I see it." I stopped and shook my head. "There would have just been less trouble all around if I had stayed on the farm where I belong."

"Don't start feeling sorry for yourself."

"See that's the thing you don't understand Sloan. I don't. I'm fine with me being me. I'm not so fine however being measured against sophisticated and feeling humiliated. Next time ... don't pretend or omit the truth or whatever you want to call it for whatever reason you did it." Looking at what appeared to be a ramp up to a fight to distract me from what I knew to be a valid point I told him, "And you might as well give it up. My brothers would get in a mood like this, try to cause an argument because they didn't like when I got something right for a change ... and I learned how not to give them one. I'm not going to fight with you. The facts are the facts."


We were silent all the way to where Uncle JS lived. Apparently the family owned a cluster of houses in a cul de sac. When we pulled in the boys came running then stopped short when they saw the damage to the truck. I got out and told them, "You're uncle is fine. He's a really, really good driver."

They looked like they wanted to fire a bunch of questions at me then stopped and said, "You look funny."

"I know. I made a mistake. It won't happen again."

"Good. 'Cause ... you look funny."

A couple of older girls were there and were starting to squawk at their cousins for being so blunt but a handsome woman came walking off the porch of one of the houses and barked a laugh and said, "Well boys, you certainly hit the head of that nail."

"Aunt Chaundra," the boys said suddenly moving to stand in front of me.

"What's wrong boys? Aren't you going to introduce me?"

I was in a rotten mood and it had just gotten more rotten but I tried to remember what Mom had taught me to do when faced with someone being intentionally nasty. I smiled. "Oh that's alright. No one needs to introduce you. You're Chaundra ... Jay's wife. Right?"

She blinked.

Jay walked over in a hurry like he was too used to having to clean up after her but I just gave him a smile, this one as real as I could muster in the mood I was in and said, "Hi Jay. How is Uncle JS?"

"Oh ... er ... he's fine." He looked over my shoulder and in some relief he called, "Dad! Teaghan is asking how you're doing."

I turned around and heard Jay telling his wife to behave and not cause trouble. I walked over to Uncle JS who was looking rather serious. "Are you OK?"

"Yes sir. Sloan is a good driver."

"So I heard you tell the boys."

We couldn't stay much longer. I only got to get nods from the rest of the family as Sloan hustled us into the truck. I sat in the back of the extended cab earning a glare from Sloan. Calmly I told him, "The boys are upset. They need to see you are ok."

The boys peppered him with questions all the way back to the farm but finally calmed down as we drove in the dirt road. Dan and several of the other men were on him as soon as he opened the truck door and while Sloan went over the story again I ushered the boys inside, got them a snack that would hold them until supper, and then went to change.


  1. Maybe he didn't want to hurt her feelings when he saw what she was wearing but he should have said something anyway :(.

  2. I know. That made me sad too. Nobody likes to feel like a fool. She doesn't care about clothes probably, but she doesn't want to look like a fool either. And.. Im mad at sloan for talking up that chick!!! grrrrr

  3. Thanks Kathy great story.