Copyright© 2020 by Lazlo Zalezac
Stepping back from the building, Sean looked over the paint job feeling a real sense of accomplishment. The walls were painted a nice bright white that gleamed in the sun. The trim was painted a bright robin’s egg blue. The picnic tables were hunter green. He had even repainted the Dairy King sign. The entire place looked almost new again.
Much to his surprise, Sean had discovered that he enjoyed painting and had ended up doing the work without using magic. Of course, he didn’t do all of the work himself. Mr. Catchums had hired to Suzie to help him with the paint job after finding them covered in sawdust that one morning. She had picked out the colors.
Suzie broke the silence, “It looks new.”
“It sure doesn’t look like the old Dairy King,” Sean said.
“You can say that again,” Suzie said.
Sean said, “It sure doesn’t...”
Suzie elbowed him and said, “That was a rhetorical statement.”
“Your command is my wish. You speak o’ lovely one and I shall do, rhetorical or not,” Sean said smiling over at her.
“I’ve got you well trained,” Suzie said giving him a kiss.
Sean smiled and said, “I just say those things to keep you kissing me like that.”
“You’ve got paint on your nose,” Suzie said shaking her head.
“I’ve got paint on my hands, too,” Sean said holding his hands up in the air and wiggling his fingers.
“You’re a sloppy painter,” Suzie said knowing that she wasn’t in much better shape.
“Maybe I should pat you on your cute butt,” Sean said.
“You wouldn’t dare,” Suzie said edging away from him. She had no doubts that he would dare.
“You know that if I were to stand behind you and caress your breasts, everyone in town would know what I did,” Sean said grinning evilly and waving his green hands in the air.
Suzie smiled brightly and, staring at his crotch, said, “After I spill some paint on my shoes, everyone in town will know where I kicked you.”
“Maybe physical contact while wet with paint is not a good idea,” Sean said. He started to cross his legs and cover his crotch with his hands. He stopped in time to prevent advertising what he was about to do to the whole world. Nothing would be as embarrassing as walking around with a green crotch.
“Let’s wash up. Mr. Catchums will be here soon,” Suzie said laughing at the expression on his face.
The pair of them washed using the hose that was behind the store. The latex paint came off their hands easily enough, but it was a little more work getting the paint brushes clean. Somehow, in the process of getting clean Suzie accidently sprayed Sean with the hose. Sean sputtered and said, “You did that on purpose.”
“Maybe I did,” Suzie said with a giggle. She lifted the hose and sprayed him in the face. When he advanced on her, she dropped the hose and ran off taunting him, “You’ll never catch me.”
Sean ran after her shouting, “I’m going to get you.”
Suzie looked over her shoulder and said, “Never!”
A dozen heads popped out of the bushes along the back of the property and watched the action. Chom said, “Finally, he’s chasing the nymph. Maybe we’ll get to see something soon.”
One of the fairies said, “She’s putting up a good run.”
“She’s wearing too many clothes.”
“He’s giving a pretty good chase.”
“He almost caught her.”
“There she goes around the trashcan.”
“There’s only one tree over there and he runs into it.”
“That’s got to hurt.”
“He’s not very coordinated, is he?”
“That’s going to have to be one of the rules next time.”
“He got her.”
“He’s going to have to let her go to get her clothes off.”
“She’ll run off again.”
A car drove up in front of the Dairy King. The heads disappeared back in the bushes when the car door opened and a man got out. The man paused and looked at the front of the building.
Sean was holding Suzie against his wet clothes. She was struggling a little bit, but not enough to prevent him from holding her. It would have looked bad except she was smiling too much. Doing his best to leer at her, Sean gave an evil laugh and said, “I’ve got you.”
“Oh, you evil man. You’re a savage. I just know that you’re going to ravage me,” Suzie said theatrically while weakly beating on his chest.
“I’ll ravage you like a savage,” Sean said giving his words a little emphasis with a cave man grunt.
“You’re going to have to do it later,” Suzie said spotting Mr. Catchums walking around the building.
“We’ve got company,” Suzie said.
“No,” Sean said frustrated. Every time he was alone with Suzie and things were just beginning to heat up, someone would interrupt them.
“I can’t believe how nice it looks,” Mr. Catchums said while approaching them. It hadn’t looked that nice when he had inherited the business.
Sean released Suzie and said, “Thanks.”
“I really like the colors,” Mr. Catchums said. The place had always been painted a plain white. The mix of blue and white on the building had really made it look nice.
Suzie said, “Thanks.”
“I see you finished the picnic tables, too,” Mr. Catchums said.
“We did half of them first so that they’d be dry by the time anyone wanted to use them. It didn’t help,” Sean said.
“They’re still a little sticky,” Suzie said.
Mr. Catchums said, “You should have done half of them yesterday and half today.”
“You’re right, but I didn’t think about it,” Sean said shrugging his shoulders. He paused and looked off into the distance for a second. Holding a finger up in the air, he said, “I’ve got the solution to our problem.”
“What?” Mr. Catchums asked with a worried expression on his face.
Sean answered, “I will go home, invent a time machine, go back to yesterday, paint half of the picnic tables, and return to the current time. Problem solved.”
“There’s no need to go to all of that trouble,” Mr. Catchums said.
Sean said, “It is no trouble at all. All I have to do is make one of the greatest discoveries in the history of physics. There’s nothing to it.”
“I’m serious. There’s no need to go to all of that trouble. I decided last night that I’m not going to open today. I’m going to give the inside of the place a real good cleaning,” Mr. Catchums said. Two days ago, the whole building had been painted white when they put on the undercoat. Yesterday, they had given it the second coat of paint. He’d been shocked when he looked at the result. He had really let the place go downhill.
Thinking that three pairs of hands would make the work go faster, Suzie said, “We’ll help you.”
“You kids have been working hard the past four days. Are you sure you want to help me clean up?” Mr. Catchums asked. He’d decided a long time ago that the younger generation didn’t have much of a work ethic anymore. These two were proving him wrong.
Sean frowned at the idea cleaning with Mr. Catchums around. There was a very good chance that he’d actually have to work. He said, “I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you take today off and we’ll clean up?”
Suzie realized that Sean was going to use his magic to clean up the kitchen. She smiled at him and said, “That’s so thoughtful of you, Sean. Mr. Catchums probably hasn’t had a day off in years.”
“That’s true,” Mr. Catchums said with a frown. He was pretty sure that his wife would enjoy spending the day with him. It had been years since he had taken her on a summertime picnic.
Pleased at how things were turning out, Sean said, “We’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Are you sure?” Mr. Catchums said. Now that the offer had been made, he was finding it nearly impossible to turn down.
“Positive,” Suzie said patting him on the arm.
“Well, okay,” Mr. Catchums said.
Sean said, “Great.”
Mr. Catchums reached into his wallet and pulled out fifty dollars. He handed it to Sean and said, “Buy whatever cleaning supplies you might need.”
After taking the money from him, Sean leaned over to Suzie and said, “I didn’t want to brag earlier, but I’ve been climbing the corporate ladder. I’m head of purchasing and head of maintenance.”
“You’re the gopher and janitor,” Suzie said rolling her eyes.
“It may look like that, but we have a rather flat management structure here at the corporate headquarters of the Dairy King,” Sean said.
“Oh, brother,” Suzie said.
After a lot of fussing around, Mr. Catchums returned to his car and drove off. He said, “I’m glad I never married his mother. That kid is mad as a hatter, but he’s a hard worker. That poor little lady has one hell of a mess on her hands.”
Sean and Suzie went over to the convenience store to purchase the cleaning supplies. Sam saw them walk in together and said, “If it isn’t beauty and the beast.”
“Hello, Sam,” Suzie said with a smile.
“Hello, Sam,” Sean said.
“Here for some coffee?” Sam asked with a smile.
“No. I surrendered to the inevitable. My will with regards to learning to love coffee is not strong enough to stave off economic disaster. You’re going to lose your job,” Sean answered.
“The horror!” Sam said. He put his hands to his cheeks and asked, “Whatever will I do?”
“You can work for me over at the Dairy King,” Sean answered.
“I’d rather die,” Sam said. He knew that Sean was aware of how he felt about his past experiences at the Dairy King.
“It won’t be that bad,” Sean said.
“Why?” Sam asked curious where Sean was going to take this.
“I’ve been practicing my employee motivational speeches. I’ll convince you to love the job,” Sean said.
Sam looked at Suzie and asked, “Do I want to hear it?”
“No,” Suzie answered with a grin. She had already heard a couple of his motivational speeches.
“I didn’t think so,” Sam said.
Sean said, “Oh ye of little faith. I can convince a cat to take a bubble bath, a gnat to buzz off, and a fish to jump directly into my net. I read how in a book.”
Sam rubbed his forehead and closed his eyes. He said, “Let’s hear it.”
“This ought to be good,” Suzie said.
“Sam, I know that you’re concerned about coming to work at the Dairy King. You’re afraid of what the future will bring. Let me assure you that there’s no need to be concerned. With a little career planning, we can map out your future.
“Now, we both know that you’ll start out as the lowly fry boy, but you don’t have to be one for your entire career at the Dairy King. If you come in early, work late every day, say ‘yes, sir’ and ‘no, sir’, and work without break, then one day you’ll rise to the level of chief fry boy. It may take years and years for that to happen, but that day will come. I know that you’ll appreciate the nickel an hour raise that comes with the promotion,” Sean said.
Sam stared at Sean for a minute and then said, “That makes me want to quit my job here and come work for you.”
“See, I told you I was good at motivating people,” Sean said looking over at Suzie.
Suzie laughed and said, “I never doubted you.”