A serial fiction story for your enjoyment

written by James Rada, Jr.

3: Job Hunting

Saturday morning, Stacy Lawrence slowly woke from her slumber, feeling disoriented and unsure of her surroundings. She looked at the ceiling and then at the nightstand. She didn’t recognize them. With a jolt, she remembered that she and her son, Peter, were holed up in Thurmont for the weekend while their car underwent repairs.

With a heavy sigh, Stacy relaxed back into the pillows, but then realized that she had no plans for the day ahead. Apartment hunting in Pennsylvania had been on her agenda, but the unexpected car trouble had derailed those plans. She mentally scolded herself for not having a backup plan.

She got up and went through her morning routine, the hot water from the shower soothing her tense muscles. As she dressed, she glanced over at Peter, still sleeping soundly. He would probably be content spending the day lounging around and watching TV.

Downstairs in the breakfast room, Stacy sat alone at a table with a cup of coffee and some toast. She wracked her brain, trying to come up with a new plan. She was someone who needed structure and organization to function properly, but lately, her plans seemed to crumble beneath her.

Pulling out her phone, Stacy pulled up a map of Thurmont. It was a charming small town, but its size limited the options for things to do. She thought back to what Bobby Hennessey had suggested last night at the pizzeria: Why not consider finding work and settling down in Thurmont?

Intrigued by this idea, Stacy began researching businesses in the town and potential apartments to rent. Unfortunately, there were only a few places available within her budget.

Frustrated, but determined to make the most of her weekend in Thurmont, Stacy decided to explore all possibilities and make a decision once they got their car back. After all, she had nothing else planned for now.

When Stacy returned to the room, Peter was awake and engrossed in a TV show.

 “They have waffles in the breakfast room,” Stacy said.

Peter’s face lit up. “Awesome!” Waffles were the 10-year-old’s favorite breakfast.

“Before you go stuff yourself with waffles, I need to talk to you about something. Can you turn off the TV for a minute?”

Peter complied and sat up, curious about what his mother had to say.

 “I know I said we were going to live in Pennsylvania, but what would you think about staying here instead?”

Peter shrugged. “I haven’t really seen much of it.”

Stacy nodded. “I know, but I’ve been doing some research online. It seems like a nice place to live. It’s almost what I was looking for, although it’s a little smaller.”

“What would you do for work?”

Stacy sighed. “That’s a good question, and the answer is: I don’t know. If you were agreeable to staying here, I was going to spend the weekend looking for a job. Bobby said there’s a veterinarian in town, so I can apply there. I also saw there’s a zoo—maybe they could use some help.”

“Do I have to walk around with you?”

Stacy shook her head. “No, you can stay in the hotel room as long as you promise not to wander off by yourself. And, don’t forget, you can’t order room service without my permission.”

“That’s fine. I can watch TV.”

She tussled his hair. “I didn’t think you would mind that. I’ll leave you some money, so you can order a pizza for lunch if I’m not back.”

Stacy spent most of the day trekking from one end of Thurmont to the other. Her first stop was the veterinary hospital that was near the high school. Even though they weren’t hiring at the moment, the office manager accepted her application since she had experience in an animal hospital.

Walking back through town, she stopped at stores, banks, doctor’s offices, and restaurants, asking if they were hiring and filling out applications. She even followed signs to the public library and applied there. She wasn’t picky, and she had worked a variety of jobs in high school and college, so she had experience in a lot of fields. However, she doubted some of the jobs would pay well enough to live on.

She also took the time to inquire about apartments or rooms for rent wherever she applied for a job. Thurmont had a few apartment complexes and many businesses downtown that appeared to have living quarters above them.

Luckily, the weather was pleasant, with plenty of sunshine and no extreme heat. This made the walk enjoyable for Stacy as she walked around town.

After submitting her application at a local tavern, she settled onto a barstool and ordered lunch while scrolling through the Internet to find potential places to live. The bartender, Kevin, struck up a conversation with her.

“So, why did you decide to move here if you didn’t have a place to live?” he asked curiously, wiping down the already spotless counter.

It was after the lunch rush, but before dinner, so there were only a handful of people in the tavern.

“My car broke down yesterday, and a friend convinced me that I could live here as easily as Pennsylvania.”      

The bartender, Kevin, nodded. “He’s right, but why isn’t he helping you search? If he lives here, he would know where to look.”

“He’s not that good a friend. I just met him yesterday. He helped me out when my car broke down.”

“What’s his name?” Kevin asked, filling a glass with ice from the large machine behind him.

“Bobby Hennessey.”

Kevin smiled and nodded. “Bobby! Everyone around here knows Bobby.”

A small smile tugged at her lips. “He ate dinner with me and my son last night at Rocky’s, and it seemed like everyone knew him there, too.”

“Not surprising. He’s one of those people who makes small towns worth living in.” The bartender paused and then added, “I tell you what. If Bobby vouches for you, you can have this job.”

“I don’t know that he will.”

“I’ll give him a call and see what he says. He’s a good judge of character.”

She hesitated, unsure of whether Bobby would actually vouch for her after only meeting her yesterday. But before she could respond, Kevin disappeared into the backroom. When he came back out, he was smiling.

“Bobby said I should give you a chance and that I wouldn’t be disappointed.”

“I have to be honest, Kevin, I’m not sure why he said that. Like I said, we just met yesterday.”

“Well, do you want the job or not? I’ll see for myself if you can handle it, but I hope you don’t make a liar of Bobby.”

The bartender gave her a sly wink before turning to tend to other customers.

Stacy started her new job at the tavern the next day. Kevin even arranged for her to stay in an apartment above the tavern. Although it was far from luxurious and desperately needed some TLC, it was a roof over her head that she could afford. The walls were riddled with holes and peeling paint, but she was determined to make it her own.

Kevin had struck a deal with her. He would keep the rent low if she put in some work to fix up the place. It wasn’t a glamorous offer, but it would allow Peter to be nearby while she worked. Stacy was grateful for the opportunity, especially since she had bartending experience from college and knew she could make decent tips.

Although it may not have been her dream job, it provided some much-needed breathing room. She could start saving money and get back on her feet, all while searching for a more permanent living situation.

For now, this was what was available, and Stacy was grateful for any chance to rebuild her life.*Read what happens next in our March 2024 issue*

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