Sunday, November 13, 2016

Kiki Lowenstein and the Missing Gift, Part I

By Joanna Campbell Slan

Author's Note: I'm going crazy finishing my project for the 2016 Creatin' Contest, a dollhouse contest. But this is National Novel Writing Month, and therefore, I'm also feeling guilty for not doing more writing. So...I thought I'd challenge myself by writing an ongoing short story. I'm doing this live--and I sure hope it works! I plan to end it around Christmas. 

The sight of my scrapbook and crafting store, Time in a Bottle, always gives me a thrill, especially during the holidays. We've decorated our front  window to the hilt. The roof line is festooned with bright lights. Vibrant colors bounced off the pristine snow that had fallen overnight. I hate the cold, but I love the sights when Christmas is right around the corner.

There is so much to look forward to!

I laughed out loud thinking of all the festive activities documented on our calendar. With two small kids and a teenager, my husband, Detweiler, and I will be busy in a ho-ho-ho-happy way. Already there has been a lot of buzzing around, whispering of secrets, and giggling after lights out. The children have holiday fever. Their excitement keeps ratcheting up, as does the noise level. These days, when I'm in my car alone, I keep the radio off and savor the silence.

Slowly, I pulled into the parking lot. The fresh snow crunched under my tires in a satisfying way. I've owned the store for nearly a year, going on two. When my friend and mentor Dodie Goldfader found out that she had cancer, she sold the place to me, on contract. In the beginning, I had many sleepless nights, wondering whether I could make the payments. Somehow, by the grace of God, and with a ton of hard work, I've managed to keep this train on the rails, chugging down the tracks.

Craning my neck, I realized I wasn't the first person here. In the parking space next to the back door was Margit's car, an old white Buick. Margit also owns a portion of the store, although hers is a teensy-tiny share. I offered to buy her out, but Margit says the store gives her a reason to get up in the morning. She's a widow whose mother has Alzheimer's and is in an assisted living facility.

According to Margit, we're her family. I like it when she says that.

She's right. We have only three full-timers. There's Clancy--my right-hand woman, and a Jackie Kennedy look-alike--and Margit and me.

Margit is a seventy-something-year-old German woman, who typifies what the locals call "Scrubby Dutch." "Dutch" being a perversion of "deutsche," which means "German." My friend is incredibly precise. Her desk is a monument to the slogan, "A place for everything and everything in its place." She knows exactly how many ink pens, paper clips, and so on she has. At the end of any work day, she arranges her pencils in their cup with the lead tips facing the ceiling. Her in- and out-boxes are tidy to the point of ridiculous. She wears the same outfit each Monday. Another is specified for every Tuesday, and so on. Every part of her life is exactly that organized.

I drive her nuts.

With great care, I climbed out of my car, a black Lexus SUV we'd recently purchased. The slick surface of the snow threatened my balance. For a minute, the world seemed off-kilter. I grabbed the door handle, blinked, and realized...the world was fine.

The problem was Margit's car.

Not only was it parked crooked, but one side was noticeably higher than the other.

What on earth?


Part II of Kiki Lowenstein and the Missing Gift will be posted here on November 27. You'll find out what's wrong with Margit.


Linda O. Johnston said...

How fun to have a serial story here! I'll look forward to the next segment.

Joanna Slan said...

Thanks so much, Linda!

Billie Jackson said...

While I am not a fan of serialized work, I will follow you anywhere. Thanks for this wonderful gift.

Nancy said...

Love it! What a coincidence; my mother-in-law was Austrian, her name was Margit and she was just that precise. She had a rota of meals she cooked that my husband remembered from his growing-up years and Wednesdays were always beans and homemade salted donuts.

Joanna Slan said...

Ah, Billie. That's so kind of you!

Joanna Slan said...

Nancy, that's so funny!

Peggy Basile said...

can't wait for next chapter of Kiki, as always they are so full of interest. None compares. Kiki and family are always up to something new and feel like real friends. Thanks Joanna

Linda Rima said...

Link is taking me to part I not Iv