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Links of Interest:
| Every cloud might not carry a silver lining, but the next one chasing our beleaguered heroine, did. It came in the form of a tiny, Victorian company town named Port Gamble. When it was built in the 1850's, Port Gamble included among its populace Teacher's own wily State-of-Maine ancestors, so she felt more than a tourist's affinity for the charming spot.|
Not that it meant squat to that Great Leveler...the post-2000CE American job market.
The very day she fled the male striptease shows, Teacher found work at the Port Gamble General Store. She did go in with eyes wide open. The covert strangeness of Mrs. Owner and the $7.35/hr. wage sufficed to prevent her from heaving much sigh of relief; but the healthier environ did promise hope, after six months' incarceration in the dark, surreal world of CasinoLand. A more wholesome tourist destination spot could never be found. Fresh sea air wafts through the open windows of the kitchen where Teacher toiled, sometimes merrily. The town even has a resident cat. And quite famous ghosts!
Enter: THE TWITS.
It was a No-Go from the start, but piano teachers are notoriously stubborn (transl. "patient" in some dialects). After a first day that included listening to Mr. Twit spit and curse at the incompetence of his other workers--who were wretchedly overextended--and exiting at day's end to an inspired grand finale of "Get OUT!" by Mrs. Twit, the piano teacher came home not sure whether to laugh or cry. Had it not been so sad for the wonderful old store (and its poor ghost, don't forget), it would have been funny.
She didn't cry.
She went back. Day after day for two months, Teacher weathered Port Gamble's Reign of Terror while ghosts fled, ducking their heads into safer harbor among the Of Sea and Shore Museum's labyrinthian workrooms and cubbyholes, up in the attic. With sweat dripping from head to toe, our champion would sprint from front-to-back, then from back-to-front of the Store, operating three different registers while waiting on busloads of weary tourists needing ice cream, meals, groceries, souvenirs, and directions. Administrative support consisted of the very large Mrs. Twit seated at her accustomed table, calling out with genteel imperiousness, "Bring me my beverage, please," or, "You have tables to wipe," or, during lunch crush, "Cassie, make me breakfast." (Cassie was a strapping, beautiful farm girl just headed for college, a tremendous worker, and The Twits' favored kicking bag.) Teacher would watch customers' jaws drop in horror as she rang up their orders to an abrasive accompaniment of Mr. Twit shrieking, "Expedite! Expedite! EXPEDITE!! "smack into her face.
It was Teacher's baptism into working for humans who take genuine pleasure in degrading humans. Their employees, teacher discovered, lasted for two to three months... though steadfast stoners like their fabulous and funny cook, Monty, could last longer.
Blistering insults and wafting hemp aren't likely to drive away stubborn State-of-Mainers, however (or piano teachers battling cardboard, for that matter). They only leave if you don't pay them. Sadly for the ghosts, paychecks on payday weren't a priority, for The Twits. In fact, dangling paychecks before hungry donkeys seemed to be one of their primary amusements. Out of six paychecks received by Teach, only two arrived intact, on payday.
So it came like a vision straight out of heaven, when our heroine looked up from the register one day to find a pretty, stricken-looking lady with long, dark hair, dressed in official black and a badge, murmuring tremulously, "I'm the new Postmaster. I need help!" Never one to miss a beat, our musical warrior lit up, whispering, "I need a job!"
"I'll GIVE you a job!" the Postmaster cried. And the deed was done.
Now, the Ghost of the Port Gamble Store was a little unhappy that his hoped-for heroine hadn't purged the premises of the blight plaguing it. She'd proven a bit of a deserter, really, just leaving him in the lurch like that. So with a ghostly creak and groan, he apparently rolled up his sleeves and went to work himself, in the aftermath.
The Twits weren't really the owners of The Port Gamble General Store, you see; they only owned the business license. The building (and its resident ghost, don't forget) belonged to Olympic Property Group, a subsidiary of Pope Resources--the offspring of the very Pope & Talbot that built the town (and spawned the ghosts). True to its finest Victorian tradition, Pope Resources proved not the sort to harbor either terrorists or tourist repellents (unless they happen to be ghosts, of course). So one day the following year, Pope's esteemed representatives presented The Twits with notice to evacuate, as the building really, really, SIMPLY MUST be restored inside. No, The Twits would not be allowed back.
In the meantime, our protagonist had fled across the street, to the safety of a quaint Post Office housed there. With her foot in the door of the United States Postal Service, she had finally found home.
Or so she thought.
The Ghost, however, had other ideas...