This is the fortieth part of a fiction serial, in 740 words.
When they came for Leah that morning, they asked me to take off the reins. A masculine-looking woman wearing a fleece with a Council logo sewn on it shook her head. “We don’t use nothing like that, lady. No restraints. Don’t worry, we know what we’re doing. She’ll be back about ten to five, so please make sure you’re in, as we have others to drop off after her, okay?”
I found her a bit scary, but I was too excited about the new job to care about her attitude that morning.
Although I had been to the florist’s shop to meet Barbara the previous week, I still felt nervous about my first day. I had my satnav, so should find the addresses alright, but I wanted to create a good impression, even though it paid minimum wage. When I told my dad, he had said I had to upgrade the car insurance for business use. That meant I had to phone Olly, as he did all that stuff. He seemed pleased that I had a job, but less excited when I told him how much it paid.
There was an extra payment for using my car, so much a mile. I had to keep a record of that, and claim it back in cash at the end of the week, so Barbara had told me. She hadn’t mentioned the insurance though.
One good thing was that there was a dedicated parking space behind the shop, so I didn’t have to worry about parking tickets. When I got there at eight-fifteen that morning, Barbara already had the deliveries for the morning sorted out. She gave me the slips with the addresses on them, and each bouquet or box of flowers had the corresponding number on a slip stuck to it.
“Try to work out a basic route, Angela. It’s usually best to do the furthest drop first, then work your way back to the shop. If you don’t get any answer at an address, fill in one of these cards, and put it in the letterbox. Don’t hand them to anyone who just happens to approach you outside the house. That’s a scam we’ve been caught out on before”.
With that, she left me to it, and went to answer the constantly-ringing phone. Her assistant Emily was busy arranging bunches in buckets to stand outside the shop, and she just grinned at me. She only looked about seventeen.
I had put the back seat flat, and the resulting space in my car looked huge. Once it was all loaded up with the flowers, Barbara gave me a big laminated card with ‘Babs The Florist’ and the shop phone number printed on it in pale blue. “Stick this on the dashboard, then you shouldn’t get any parking hassles”.
Pulling out onto the rear service road, I felt stupidly important, as if I had something special to do, and a sign inside the car to prove it. Working from eight-fifteen until four-fifteen five days a week, I could expect to earn just under three hundred and thirty a week. That was before tax and other stoppages of course. I might get the extra mileage pay for using the car, but I would need that for petrol and tyres or whatever.
I was going to have to take this job more seriously too, becuase Olly was already planning to deduct a thousand a month from what he paid, starting on the first of next month.
The morning went okay, but not great. I was lulled into a false sense of thinking it was easy, when the first three drops went smoothly. One man even gave me a two-pound tip. Every delivery had to be paid in advance, either over the phone, or by calling into Barbra’s shop. That meant I didn’t have to take any payments, and that was a relief.
But then someone wasn’t home, so I left a card. Then on the next job a lady said I was too late with the wreath, and the funeral party had already left the house. I rang the shop, but Barbara told me not to worry, and to bring the wreath back. Then I got a bit lost on the dual carriageway, and ended up running across four lanes in a panic to drop off some birthday roses at a house on the other side.
Who knew that delivering bloody flowers could be so stressful?