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Molly spun on her heels as she squeezed her way between the oak tables. In one hand she carried a small white notepad, and in the other, a blue ballpoint pen that finished scribbling down the notes of the order. Her black and white maid attire fluttered as she spun around a third table, and made her way toward the kitchen.
“Demmy, we need a hot mocha and a sweet Irish Latte!”
The recipient of the request, a white haired woman a head taller than Molly, looked back over with a grin. “ Of course. I’m already on it.”
Molly smiled, then turned back to head out into the dining hall. She had to admit, today was looking to be a good one. Rays of sunlight were pouring into the café and glistening off the recently wiped tabletops. Paintings and pictures, both ornate and mundane alike, hung on the walls, and the sounds of Victorian era music flowed through the café accompanying the light.
It was her own special brand of paradise, her own café. She, the proud owner and chief maid of the Cheshire Café, with her own little niche in the world. It wasn’t much, it wasn’t glamorous or high living, but it was more than enough for Molly to enjoy.
“Watch where you’re going, idiot!” A sharp voice cut Molly’s thoughts back to reality. Internally, she groaned, and turned to the source of the voice. A brown bun haired maid was glaring at Demmy, who had turned away from her and started whistling. “ Why the hell can’t you realize other people beside you exist?!”
“Heather, that’s enough.” Molly said. She stepped between the two of them, and looked up at the taller woman. “ You’re making a scene, and calling other people idiots is never the answer.”
“If it’s Dredge-my, then it’s always the start of the answer!” Heather pushed her glasses up against the ridge of her nose as she leaned down look at Molly eye to eye. “Three months, three goddamn months, and she’s still a clumsy retard!”
“Beats being a skreeonk.” Demmy whistled.
“Like you aren’t?” Heather sneered. She snorted, then pushed Molly to the side, and jabbed a finger in the other maid’s chest. “Fun fact, weirdo: I’m only a skreeonk to those who are a skreeonk themselves. Treat others as you want to be treated. Ever heard of that, or were you raised in a hole in the ground?”
“Considering your own track record, I’d assume your phone number is 1-800-12talk.”
“Can you two just stop, please? Heather I already-“
Heather grabbed Demmy by the sides of her outfit, and pushed her into the wall. The wall rattled, which caused several of the customers to turn and notice the unfolding scene. “You think you’re skreeonking clever? You think you’re being cute?” Heather hissed. “ I have had it up to here with your goddamn bullshit!”
Demmy shook her head. The long white hair flowed against her golden eyes, which bore into Heather’s own crimson eyes. “skreeonk, I’m adorable, and you know it. If you want a break up, so be it.”
“GOD skreeonking DAMN YOU, YOU OVERSIZED-“
“BOTH OF YOU, ENOUGH!”
Both maids turned to face their smaller boss, who’s face was blistering red, and her fists clenched tight. Her voice then lowered into a thin whisper, but she struggled to keep the embarrassment and rage boiling within in check. “Demmy, I have told you before antagonizing Heather is not allowed. Do you want another paycheck slash, or be stuck doing garbage disposal for a week again?” When the white haired girl shook her head, Molly turned her attention to Heather. “And you… Remember what I warned you about yesterday?”
Heather’s eyes, which had been narrowed into venomous slits, slowly widened as the realization hit her. “Wait, I was only joking-“
“Joking is not cursing out your fellow maid and being a jerk to everyone around you.” This time it was Molly who jammed a finger into Heather’s chest,and pushed her up against the wall. “It’s not just Demmy you have a problem with. It’s every single person here who you think has wronged you. Doris, Delilah, Nichelle, Coral, Keira, Devana, they all have brought up complaints about your behavior time and time again. You slander them, you insult them, you bicker and whine about them. And have we forgotten your illegal pets you keep bringing in just to ‘get even’ with Demmy? The Tasmanian Devil, or the Japanese giant hornets?”
Heather balked under the increasingly angry gaze of the maid. “ They’re not illegal! I ow-“
“Don’t lie to me. I checked, and they are. Owning illegal pets and vandalizing my restaurant for your petty grudge is grounds enough for me to fire you, but all this? I’m done, Heather. I am sick and tired and done with it all. I gave you one last chance, and you blew it because of your temper. This is your last day on the job. After this, I don’t want to see you here ever again, and if you try to come back? I will call the police on you. If we weren’t short on maidpower with Doris’s illness, I would have you gone right now. Do. You. Understand?”
Molly took a deep breath, and kept her gaze on Heather. The taller girl’s right eye had started to twitch, and her teeth grit together. She raised her left hand up, and for a moment, Molly’s heart sank in her stomach. She was going to be struck down, beaten to a pulp by a girl she had underestimated.
The hand never struck down. “Fine. You keep being buddy buddies with that freak.” Heather pushed Molly away, and walked back into the kitchen. “Don’t come crying to me when she takes what misplaced trust you have in her and rips it apart.”
Once Heather had slunk back into the depths of the kitchen, Molly felt her legs give out beneath her. The only thing that kept her from collapsing was Demmy and a teal pony tailed maid catching her. “Thank you Demmy, Delilah….” Molly weakly muttered. “ I just… I just can’t deal with it anymore.”
“We know.” Delilah said. Her voice was low and scratchy, as she looked up at Molly. “ We all do.”
“I’m sorry. Heather is… right, I hate to say.” Demmy mused. She went back over to the coffee machine. “ I’ve been here three months, and I’m still just a screw up.”
“Yes, but who isn’t?” Delilah chuckled. “You’re no more weird than the rest of us.” She then turned to the customers who were watching. “Show’s over, people. Nothing to see here. Just some stupid employee drama.”
“Delilahs’ right. “ Molly staggered over to Demmy as Delihah continued her damage control. “ You’re just a little clumsy, and easy to provoke. We all have our faults, some mental and some physical. I mean… look at Delilah. She has disproportionate dwarfism, and Doris… Doris is her own special person.”
“If you count grammatical incorrectness and carrying a gun at all times as that… But I get your point.” Demmy sighed. She finished filling up the drinks, and put them on her serving plate. “ And… thank you. I promise, from the depths of my heart, I’ll try not to be a burden to anyone else here.”
Molly had to admit, that was a fast turnaround for Demmy. Normally, a person in this situation would take most of the day to recollect, but she seemed over it surprisingly fast…. Almost too fast, really. As the taller woman handed Molly the serving dish, then went off to take down orders of her own, Molly’s eyebrows furrowed.
It just didn’t seem natural. But then… oftentimes reality was stranger than fiction. She shook her head. She needed to stop watching so much Star Trek and Twilight Zone.
“Mistress, a word with you?” Delilah’s raspy voice reached Molly’s ears. The girl looked down at the maid who only came up to her waist, and her unusually youthful face. When she had first laid eyes on Delilah a year ago, she had thought the girl was a gradeschooler, at most thirteen years of age, so hearing that Delilah was in her late teens, with medical background checks to prove it, had come as a shock to the woman. Her short stubby arms and legs gave her a gnome-like appearance, especially with her otherwise normal sized head. “Just, between us, please?”
Molly took another deep breath, and once she handed the drink order to the customers who ordered them, walked over to the back of the kitchen. Heather was no longer present in the kitchen, but Molly could hear the sounds of fists hitting wood and a stream of curses and swears coming from the employee restroom. “Is it about Demmy, or Heather?” She asked.
“The former. I have no concern for a jackass I never have to deal with again.” Delilah huffed. “ But, Demmy is someone who still confuses me.”
“In what ways? She seems… mostly normal to me.”
Delilah raised an eyebrow. “The lack of any real medical records? Molly, I had Doris pull a background check on your newest employee a few days ago. She doesn’t exist.”
Molly took a step back. “That can’t be. She was born-“
“In Salem, Massachusetts. Except, when Doris pulled up all the medical records for those hospitals before everything went to hell in the United States, absolutely no one resembling Demmy was ever born there. Not in the last 17 to 23 years.”
Molly shook her head. “There has to be a mistake. Maybe a few births failed to be recorded there. Maybe they were wiped out when the zombies and werewolves-“
“Maybe… That, I will give you.” Delilah rubbed her forehead. “Maybe things just so happened to align to make Demmy never exist… or maybe she’s not even really from there.”
“Even if she isn’t, what am I supposed to do about that? Go march into her home and see what she might be hiding there?” When Delilah nodded, Molly felt a cold shiver run down her spine. “That…. That’s invasion of private space. I can’t do that.”
“Not if she is fine with letting you in.” Delilah said. “You know how quick she is to let you say yes. Just say you’re coming to her house right after work, and you’ll be accompanying her. If she declines, that’s serious out of character for her, and immediate red flags. If she accepts, all the better. And if anything goes wrong… I’ll be there with one of Doris’s spare magnums she let me borrow.”
A thousand questions filled Molly’s mind, most prominently why Delilah had a handgun on her at this point and time during work, but when she was about to ask, she saw something out of the corner of her eye. It was Demmy, but she was standing and staring at an empty table in the dining hall. Her eyes seemed to be glazed over, and her lips were quivering, but no sound was coming out.
“Well, if she’s going to space out, I guess that’s your opening. Oh, and table 2 needs two coffees and three pastries. Tell Demmy to deliver these there, while I go take down more orders. Break a leg, mistress!” Delilah handed her a plate with just those things, and then turned to head out and take orders.
Molly’s right eye twitched. Mistress… that was her one major gripe with Delilah. She kept calling her ‘mistress’, and though Molly had asked her many times to just call her by her name, the short woman refused to relent. Why it was she called her that, she couldn’t begin to understand. No matter, that wasn’t important to deal with. Instead, she took the plate and walked over to Demmy.
“Demmy? Demmy, are you there?” She asked.
Her voice snapped the taller woman out of her glazed state, and Demmy nearly jumped out of her shoes. “Y-yes?” She stammered, hands fidgeting by her sides.
"Why do you keep spacing out like that? We got an order at table 2 that's needed ASAP." She handed the maid the plate, and Demmy was quick to take it, then move over to the table in question, where an elderly pair gave her thanks for the order.
"My apologies." Demmy said to Molly as she returned to the main kitchen with her. "I'm just... tired. Not enough sleep I guess."
This was it, then. The moment of truth. "Well, after work, why don't I come over to your place?"
Demmy looked at her with a shocked look on her face. The color seemed to pale, and she gulped. "Um, I'm afraid I can't have tha-"
"Too bad." Molly placed a hand over her shoulder and gave a lopsided smile. It was just like Delilah had said. This was weird behavior for Demmy, since she was always so eager or willing to go with whatever Molly suggested. That was how it had been for the past three months, so to see her reject the offer…
There was definitely something up, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw Delilah and two other maids, Keira and Coral, watching from behind the corner of a wall. It was another scene being made, but at least it wasn’t as embarrassing or harmful.
She cleared her throat. “"You are my junior worker, and it's my job as the chief maid to make sure you get the proper rest. I'll be over at your place at 7." She twirled on her heels, picked up a freshly prepared tray of smoothies and crapes, and went off toward a table.
She could hear Demmy sigh behind her, but before her, she saw the other maids nod enthusiastically and give her a thumbs up. It was going to be an interesting rest of the day, that much she knew…
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