The Professional

Sandy couldn’t believe what she was hearing. The surreal trip to Fable was somehow more believable than Maxine’s story. Sandy’s face fell blank as Maxine explained her immediate situation in detail and that Sandy could be a part of her plans. Sandy felt hope surge within her, only bridled by the caution one should have in such a strange place. And this was one of the strangest days of her life.

Maxine’s deal was employment. She needed Sandy to run a cafe while Maxine herself ran her shop. It was apparently the only cafe in town and specifically the one Sandy had passed on the way here. Sandy’s memory of the ashen, burned out husk was still fresh in her mind and Maxine spoke of how Sandy was just what she needed to ‘turn it around’. Sandy felt her throat run dry and reached for her tea while waiting for the right time in Maxine’s explanation to say she wasn’t a carpenter and that she’d made a mistake thinking Sandy was more than she was.

And that’s why I’m in the market for someone of your skills… I’d need more than just a waitress, since you’d be responsible for the entire cafe. But I’d be willing to compensate you for that extra responsibility. You saw the wreck outside. I purchased that cafe from the previous owners at a discount. Well, more like purchased the land at this point. I can tell that last job must have been terrible to you. Usually an offer of employment doesn’t drain the color from one’s face. It wasn’t too bad. I mean, they never… well, they weren’t- I believe what you are trying to describe, sweetie, is a very low bar. If the best you can say about employment is that it was not abusive, then I’m confident I can do better than that. Drudgery is a slow killer all on its own.

Sandy had trouble finishing her meal. Sticky bits of sweet strawberry jam clung to her fingers while she fidgeted with her napkin. Her mind was racing so fast that her hands were shivering with anxiety. Maxine gave Sandy a little bit of room to think, refilling her tea and resting back calmly in her chair. Sandy couldn’t help but be reminded of Maxine’s content face when she’d seen her just a few hours ago. Would there ever be a day in which Sandy looked like that at work? A time where she could hear someone say her name from across the room and not feel fear? Sandy was able to compose herself with Maxine’s pause.

Is it okay if I ask a few more things? Naturally. Thank you. But… why me? You just met me. Mmm. I think that question is the product of you not being from Fable. You are used to a very large city. One so large that “unskilled” labor is at a discount. But you’ve seen how difficult it is to get to Fable. It’s a small town and most here are already content with their current work. This may be difficult to appreciate, given where you’ve come from. But you’re obviously educated and have exactly the skills I need. That makes you very valuable! I don’t think anyone’s ever said that to me. The first of many errors I intend to correct. When can you start? I’d love to start right away… But it’s burned down. I’d likely have to get a job for the next few months while you rebuild it, right? MONTHS? Heavens, no! We are not helpless… That’s not what I meant! Wont it be really hard to rebuild? I have the best of the best on the job. One of Fable’s most skilled… …professionals.

The door shook behind Sandy. Someone had tried the knob and because Maxine looked up with concern, Sandy had to turn around quickly. Maxine’s small side door lurched open with a loud bang against the wall. The first thing Sandy saw was an axe blade as broad as Sandy’s shoulders bob into the room. The eyes of its wielder gleamed in the moonlight.

*heavy breathing* AAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!