My friend, Carmen got a part time job over the holidays for some extra Christmas cash.
“I thought it would be fun.” She began, and I knew I was in for a whine and dine. Thankfully, she only had a thirty minute lunch break, so it couldn’t drag on too long.
“The teenagers are the worst, always calling me ma’am.” She continued.
“How disrespectful.” I said sarcastically.
“I know, right?” she responded, missing the sarcasm completely. “Hey, you remember my son’s third grade teacher?”
“The one who told you she didn’t like your son at Meet the Teacher day?” I asked.
“I can’t believe you remembered that! She-”
“Who could forget that? Her name was, wait, don’t tell me. It’s Miller – no, Milner. Wait, that’s not right. But it does start with an M.”
“L.” she corrected.
“L? Are you sure? I could have sworn it was an ‘m.’”
“No! Don’t tell me. I know this.” I continued, trying to solve the mystery. “Lester. Little. Lemer. Lettuce.”
“Shay.” She cut in.
“No! I got this! Lor –i-ta-nem.” I said sounding out possibilities.
Carmen rolled her eyes.
“Okay, give me a hint. But don’t tell me.” I said to appease her.
“It rhymes with ‘cotton.’”
“Cotton? Are you sure we’re talking about the same person?” I asked doubtfully.
“Yes! Mrs. Lau-”
“Don’t say it!” I yelled, covering my ears so I wouldn’t hear. “La-la-la-la.”
“What are you doing?” she asked trying to hide her face as other people in the deli looked over at us.
“Just give me a second.” I said, taking my hands from my ears confident she wasn’t going to give away the answer. “Okay, what do we know? It was your son’s third grade teacher. She told you she didn’t like him. And, her name starts with the letter ‘L.’”
Carmen said nothing and shoved half a drumstick in her mouth. Which meant she was either annoyed or very hungry. Another mystery, but I didn’t want to split my focus, so I put it from my mind.
“Oh, AND, it rhymes with cotton. Although, I’m not sure that part is right.” I said, to which Carmen may have rolled her eyes again. I couldn’t be sure because I was focusing hard on my mind’s eye. Or is it, “in” my mind’s eye? Ah, curses, another mystery to solve!
“I’ve got it! Larson.” I proudly proclaimed.
“Marson? Parson? Tarson?” I fired off as she continued shaking her head and chewing.
“Those don’t even start with an ‘L.’” she pointed out.
“Okay, give me another hint.”
“It sounds like Daughton.” She offered, finishing off her lunch.
“Sounds like Daughton, but begins with an L.” I repeated slowly.
Carmen’s contact must have come out, because she banged her forehead on the table several times looking for it. Which surprisingly enough, worked because they seemed to be in her eyes now.
“I gotta get going.” She said gathering her trash onto the tray.
“Alright. Just tell me.” I said giving in.
“Oh, Mrs. Laughton! Yeah, I remember her. She was so nice.” I said with a smile remembering her craggy old face.
I realized I hadn’t even started eating, but didn’t feel like I should languish since Carmen had to get back to work. I tossed my hamburger in my purse and shoved most of the fries in my mouth, throwing the rest on her tray of trash.
“Wha’ abow’ her?” I managed to ask, spewing a marginal amount of French fries in the process.
“She just dinged your car in the parking lot.” She said. “Happy holidays!”
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