Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chapter 5: The Weeklies and Another Mishap

One of Johnny's least liked things about working at Wellingtons was helping out with the weeklies. When he'd first learned about these weekly "installations", as Stewart calls them, he found it hard to believe that people actually paid upwards of a thousand dollars or more per week to put flowers in their home. But it is the Hamptons, and if anyone can afford doing so, it would be these people.

The weekly clients are a part of the upper echelons of the Hamptons elite. Going to their homes every week would always prove to be a new experience for Johnny, and would add to his already strange fascination with the rich folk. To him, these folks embody all of the preconceptions people have of the wealthy and then some.

Nearly every house in the Hamptons is its own fortress. Hedges standing ten feet tall surround these compounds to prevent curious gawkers. Automated gates guard the entrance to the driveways, with call boxes standing by that will or will not necessarily garner one admission to the premises. All of the driveways in the Hamptons are made of loose stone or gravel. Johnny could never figure out why. They're probably just too long and would cost too much money to be paved, he thought. Or maybe they're afraid of being ostracized for daring to be different.

Hamptonites take great care that their neighbors' homes are just as they'd like them to be. Not exhibiting the same aesthetic as the rest of the homes in the neighborhood can cause an uproar. In fact, a house on Meadow Lane, purportedly owned by Calvin Klein, was demolished several months ago and is now being rebuilt because the manse was considered an eyesore for many years by its neighbors.

Once inside the grounds of these fortresses, gaining access into the house can be just as challenging. Seemingly, none of the doorbells in the Hamptons work, and oftentimes you have to knock on a thick wooden door that makes such a small sound one can't imagine someone in the expansive house will hear. In these cases a simple opening of the door to let yourself in is what ends up happening. It's quite strange to Johnny that they many of these people actually expect you to do this.

The only thing fun about the weeklies was getting to talk about them afterwards. Stewart, Kona, and Jackie all had names for many of these clients, some to match their little quirks, and others simply for the fun of it. There's "Matchy, Matchy", who always wears her accessories to carefully match the rest of her outfit, and Bambi, the one who's always having dinner parties and looking for free advice on her table settings from Stewart. "Bigfoot" should never wear thongs in public. "Polly Wanna Cracker" and "Branch Lady" both have a flair for the dramatic, with large opulent branchy things in their foyers each week.

One day the shop had gotten really busy, and Stewart wasn't able to go out with Johnny to Branch Lady's house. He asked Johnny if he'd be willing to go it alone.

"Huh? I don't know", Johnny answered. He was a little apprehensive about it because he'd never gone there alone before and he was afraid to run into the previously unseen Branch Lady, for fear of scrutiny at his having to set up the arrangement.

"It'll be simple. I'll fix the branches in a vase and all you'll have to do is bring it there and switch em out."

Reluctantly, Johnny agreed. That week's installation was olive branches, and they were big and bulky. He loaded the precious cargo into the van and took off. The roads in the Hamptons are surprisingly uneven and bumpy, and Stewart had always told Johnny to take it slow on his deliveries. Unfortunately, he took a turn a little too fast, and the olive branches tipped over, spilling gallons of water on the floor of the van and messing up the carefully arranged composition. Johnny pulled over, lifting the giant vase upright and fixing it more securely for the remainder of the trip.

He arrived at "Branch Lady's" house in Watermill, uneasily letting himself into the house and rearranging the branches as best he could. Though he was by no means a floral designer, he'd thought he had done a pretty good job at recreating Stewart's original arrangement. He removed the previous week's branches, crab apples, and returned to the flower shop, having already forgotten what had happened during his trip.

The following morning, Stewart told Johnny to go back to "Branch Lady's" house. "I don't know," he muttered. "She called this morning to say that the whole arrangement was dead looking and she wants it replaced." Johnny's eyes bulged. He had forgotten to replace the water that had spilled in the van and the darned things dried up.

"Oh well," Johnny thought as he hopped back into the van to return to Watermill, "He didn't seem suspicious as to why the branches died so quickly. I'm not going to say a word." Stewart never found out what happened that day...that is, until now!

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