Allison glanced at the thermometer her boss kept on the wall next to the main entrance to the office supply store. Its old-fashioned hand seemed to waver in the heat, but it looked like it was pointing at the hash mark just past ninety degrees Fahrenheit on the dial.
Fricking hot. And only a little past one o’clock in the afternoon, with the real heat of the day yet to descend.
At least there’s no wildfire smoke, not yet, anyway, Allison pondered. She stepped inside the cool air-conditioned store, a rash of goosebumps prickling her arms. Some days, she wished they could turn the AC off. The store was built with thick concrete walls and floors, and would stay relatively cool anyway, without that damp chill that hit you when you came in from the out of doors.
But, you know, customers, she would say to herself. They want to be cool.
Truthfully, Allison found the customers provided a welcome diversion from fixing up her green house. She loved working on the house, but every day that she had a shift at the store, she looked forward to showering, putting on clothes that were entirely presentable, and getting out of her house (and head) for a bit. The part-time income helped, too. This week’s paycheck was going for paint.
Allison had always wanted a bright red front door, and earlier in the summer she’d found a solid wood panel door at a yard sale. Seventy-five dollars, and Leo helped her haul it home. It was perched on two sawhorses, under a tarp, ready for primer. Allison found the paint color she loved, and following Leo’s advice, bought the premium outdoor latex brand. “You won’t regret it, even though it seems expensive, Al. It will save you hours by going on smoothly.” Same with two high-quality brushes, one for the primer and one for the cover coats. “Invest in your tools,” Leo said. She’d chuckled at that, as most of his tools were in some state of disrepair, just waiting for the moment when he had the time and parts to fix them.
That was one of the things that she loved about Leo: he didn’t throw stuff away. Or people. He didn’t cast people off, either, just because they were dinged or dented or missing something.
David was her prime example. Most of the spring, she knew, David had been scheming up something to do with Leo and Franny. But Leo still greeted David with a smile, shook his hand, told him a joke.
Allison had tried to caution Leo, but he wouldn’t have it. “I know David’s a good person. That’s all I need to know,” Leo would say.
She walked to the back room, and noticed a box on the Will-Call shelf.
Customized stationery of some sort, she realized, and then she saw the name on the order.
Douglas, David’s father.
They looked like wedding invitations.