The Perils of Louella:

Chapter 181: Louella Gets A Legal Notice

by A.C. Cherbonnier
     THE NIGHT SHIFT as a Giant cashier was Louella’s favorite. Gives me time to shoot the breeze, she thought. The place was slow at 3 a.m.; the only one walking around was Len, the security guard.
     “Hey, Lou!” he said, sauntering over. “You watch the Super Bowl?”
     “Pretty much put me to sleep, except for the ads,” said Louella. “Did you see the one with the guys in the grocery store buying beer?”
     “Sure did!” A gold tooth twinkled. “You’re a lot prettier than that cashier was!”
     “What about me?” chimed in Petra in the fast lane. “I think all of us are right cute, don’t you, Louella?”
     “Sure! They probably hire us for our cuteness!” They laughed easily.
     “You know how much those ads cost?” asked Petra. “I heard a million and a half dollars for 30 seconds. Can you believe that? And what’d they get for it? A couple of loser guys would rather have beer than toilet paper! Huh!”
     “Aw, it was all in fun,” said Len. “We have to take things easy.”
     “That’s hard for me to do,” blurted Louella as she cracked open a roll of quarters. “Things make me uptight.”
     “Like what?” asked Len, leaning against the counter and studying her. “I guess you do look a little uptight, now you mention it.”
     “What do you mean by that?” Louella demanded, half-amused, half hurt.
     “Well, you’re--pardon my saying it--right skinny, like you could use some meat on your bones, if you don’t mind my saying so! And that’s kind of a sign of being uptight, at least in my book. You look like you don’t know how to enjoy your food.”
      “Well, maybe you don’t mind a woman being heavy, but most men want us to be thin,” chimed in Petra.
     “Look, my wife weighs upward of 250 pounds, and I love her to death!” Len giggled. “Takes all kinds, don’t it?” He moved back to his post by the door as some customers came in.
     “You know, Lou, I think Len might have something there,” said Petra. “What do you do for fun?”
     Louella felt trapped. “Well, I read and watch television,” she managed.
     “That’s it? What about a social life?”
     “No time,” lied Louella. “I have to take care of a rental property on top of this.”
     “Oh, wow! You’re lucky to have an investment like that! I can’t save a dime myself!”
     But you have ‘fun’, Louella groused inwardly. “Well, there’s a lot to it. Like today I got a legal notice from the city. They fined me $50 because my tenants put out some bulk trash and the city never picked it up.”
     “Geez! Like that’s your fault! So what’d you do about it? Go ballistic? I would have!”
     “I felt like it! Got on the phone and gave some poor city employee a hard time. But I still have to pay.”
     “But that’s not fair! You didn’t do anything wrong!”
     “Hey, tell it to Baltimore City! Everything’s the landlord’s fault! Even if a tenant doesn’t pay rent!”
     “That bad?”
     Louella nodded. “Even my own nephew stiffed me!”
     Her head jerked up when she heard a shout. Two men in ski masks were pointing guns at Len, who was spread-eagled on the floor.


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This story was published on Feb. 3, 1999.