Cotton Candy Girl
Part Two of Three
The sun took its rightful perch up in the centre of the sky, casting shadows underneath the log-shaped roller coaster and neighbouring ticket booth and candy apple cart. It was early afternoon, and Judy was still worried that man was out to get her. She'd been looking around carefully all day between customers, checking in every direction, but she hadn't seen him. Judy figured she'd better relax about it but just couldn't shake the sensation of his grip on her arm.
What the heck had he wanted? Who grabs a girl like that if he's not drunk?
Her fear made the hours pass quickly, like a seven hour adrenaline rush. The voluminous stickful of cotton candy she had eaten on her coffee break hadn’t helped. When she locked up her cash box to take to Mr. Malone, she was shaking and sweating. The fear had subsided for a few hours but had quickly returned once her shift was over and it was time to go get paid. Judy already hated talking to Mr. Malone and today was worse than usual. She just wanted to drop the box and run. Instead, she clutched the grey-green tin with both hands, her purse from Honest Ed’s slung over her right shoulder and her hair over her left. It was still bright and warm, the sky clear, but she felt just as frightened as she did at night time.
Mr. Malone's office was in a trailer with a small set of steps up to his door. Judy looked around her shoulders a lot as she knocked and waited for him to let her in with the deposit. It usually only took a couple of minutes, then she could run to catch the bus and streetcar and be home by 5:30. Mr. Malone finally answered and put his hand on Cathy's back as she squeezed past Judy down the tiny stairs. Cathy hated Mr. Malone, too, and had just last week threatened to quit if he didn't stop touching her. The two girls looked at each other's eyes and Judy thought Cathy looked sad. Cathy must have noticed that Judy was terrified, because her green eyes smiled a bit of sympathy as she turned towards the parking lot.
"So...Judy...what do we have today? Hmm...have a seat, please." The pauses between his words always made Judy nervous.
She sat on a torn pink vinyl folding chair and looked at the floor. "Not too busy today, sir."
"Oh no, eh? I can see that...Hmm..." Mr. Malone always made the same sound with his mouth when he counted the cash, a ticking, clucking sound. "Only a hundred and seven bucks." He looked up at Judy’s chest and took off his thick glasses. "And I'm supposed to pay you forty?"
"Sorry, sir. It just wasn't too busy... I really have to go catch the bus." Her hands were wet, her skin greenish-white.
"You're not looking too well, Judy. Are you sure you're okay to go home alone?" Mr. Malone gave rides home to lots of girls but Judy had never accepted. "I'm fine, I just have to go. Sorry Sir."
Mr. Malone rubbed his eyes, replaced his glasses, and crossed his legs in his chair. For a moment Judy thought he wasn't going to get up and she'd have to run out without getting paid again. "Maybe we can find a way for you to make it up to me?" He smiled, his teeth brown as usual. "Work some extra hours for me in the antique midway next weekend? Cathy just quit..." He looked wistfully out the trailer window towards the parking lot.
"Yeah, okay, I can do that." Judy kept trying to smile, her forehead crinkled and her cheeks quivering.
Mr. Malone finally stood up. He picked up the cash and counted out her pay, "Thirty six...thirty seven...thirty eight...thirty nine..." She reached for the money and, as always, Mr. Malone put her hand into his as he gave her the small stack of paper bills. "You're a good girl, Judy." He smelled like cigars, and something else rather sour. He stared at her forget-me-not blue, fast-blinking eyes for a few seconds before he let go of her hand.
"Thank you, Sir! See you next week!" Judy tripped over the brown shag carpeting as she rushed out of his trailer, down the steps and across the parking lot towards the bus stop.
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