Parking Space: A Love Story! Chapter 47 - And The Winner Is … Part 2
Published: November 5th, 2021
By: Shelly Reuben

Parking Space: A Love Story! Chapter 47 - And the Winner Is … Part 2

Chiquita Bamberger released Lilly’s arm, took a step back, and studied the girl.

“You are an interesting young woman, Lilly Snow.”

Lilly shrugged and said, “I have the great good fortune of liking myself, Mayor Bamberger. That tends to make both life and decision-making easier.”

Chiquita continued to study Lilly. Her eyes narrowed. She waited through another few seconds. Then she asked, “Would you like to work for me?”

Lilly’s face lighted up.

“Seriously?”

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“Dead serious.”

“Yes. Yes. And yes!”

Chiquita raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t you want to know in what capacity you would be working?”

“No!” Lilly practically shouted. “I’ll make your coffee. Pick up your laundry. Schedule meetings with heads of state. Chauffeur you to luncheons. Type your envelopes. Answer your phones. Shampoo your dog.”

“I don’t have a dog.”

“Water your plants. Make your coffee…”

“You already said that.”

“Two cups. I’ll make you two cups of coffee!” Lilly laughed. “When do I start?”

Chiquita shook her head with admiration and smiled.

“Tomorrow. Start tomorrow. I’m going to ask everyone from yesterday to join us in the conference room for a catered ‘Thank You’ breakfast. We’ll meet at 8:00 a.m. in the parking lot and go in together. After breakfast, I’ll walk you down to personnel. You’ll be my secretary, administrative assistant, whatever it’s called nowadays. Don’t worry about job training. If there’s anything you don’t know, I’ll teach you, and if I don’t know what I’m doing, we’ll figure it out together. I’m going to ask Gus, my husband. I adore him – he’s a forensic anthropologist – to join us for lunch. I want the two of you to meet.”

“What if he doesn’t like me?”

“He’ll think you’re cute as a button.”

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Once again, Chiquita took Lilly’s arm and spun her around. She began to lead her back toward the Carousel.

“I don’t have much leeway on starting salaries, but I’ll make sure you get as much as…”

Just then, a blast of static tore through the air, followed by a pleasant voice with a slight southern accent. A very small white haired woman in her 60s wearing a white down jacket so plumped up with feathers that she looked like a fat white dove said, “Hello one and all. My name is Susan Chung. I was asked to judge the snowman competition, so if I could have your attention, I’m ready to deliver my results.”

She stepped off the platform carrying the little portable microphone, and added, “If you would follow me, please.”

In such a manner did she lead the curious (many holding hot chocolate cups in their hands) through a forest of snowmen, snow bears, snow women, and snow castles, until she came upon three teenagers in a clearing beneath a large tupelo tree. They stood proudly beside a snowman who, with its cherry red nose, corncob pipe, and pink flower-bedecked-top hat, so much resembled Frosty the Snowman of animated movie fame that he looked as if, at any second, he might kick up his heels (if he’d had heels) and dance.

“Third prize of a gift certificate to…” Susan Chung named the store, “goes to Margaret Fanning, Theresa Sharif, and Rodney Milliken for what is clearly an homage to the inspiration for the day.”

The crowd cheered.

Susan Chung proceeded deeper into the park until she came upon her second prize winners, a family of four composed of Mr. Jacob and Mrs. Phyllis Hemlock and their twelve-year-old twins, Peter and Joy, whose snowman had taken the form a giraffe from the neck up. It was quite life-like, with brushed-on food coloring to suggest a jigsaw puzzle of brown spots and an orange silk scarf around its neck to give it a jaunty air of sophistication.

Stepping away from the giraffe and moving even deeper into the park, the small woman from the Phillip Hellinger School of Design halted on the far side of a trio of Himalayan pine trees. She pointed at a snow sculpture that appeared to be sitting on a bench.

“Our first prize,” she announced, her voice rising like a ringmaster’s about to introduce the main event, “goes to Miss Jane Abbot. We are also fortunate to have with us today the Muse for this most interesting creation, Jane’s very patient and extremely good-natured aunt, Mrs. Miracle Abbot.”

A titter of applause.

Jane’s mouth widened in glee. She bowed theatrically, lifted a pretend hat off her head, doffed it to those who had assembled in the clearing, and bowed again.

Everyone was smiling. By which I mean everyone. Including – if you knew her well enough to interpret the subtle permutations on her face – Miracle Elsie Abbot herself.

Jane had sculpted a column of snow and seated it on a park bench, as it was so slender, it could not have stood on its own. It had a clearly defined skirt, its waist was encircled by one of Mrs. Abbot’s cast-off belts, and it was wearing red clip-on earrings (very bright against the snowy face) and a pearl necklace (barely perceptible around the figure’s snowy neck).

As Mrs. Abbot stood beside her niece’s creation, the resemblance between the woman in the flesh and the woman made of snow was unmistakable. Susan Chung held the microphone out toward the original and asked, “Does this characterization upset you?”

Whereupon Mrs. Abbot who, for so many decades had ruled her City Hall departments with humorless and icy efficiency, lifted her chin, straightened her back, and said, “No. Of course not.”

Then she removed her blue felt hat and placed it on the head of her snowy doppelganger.

She stood back to admire the results.

And from all the way back on the platform near the Carousel, Mayor Chiquita Bamberger started to clap her hands.

Lilly Snow immediately followed suit.

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Amos Good and Noah Pitt, still working the Carousel’s controls, stepped away from the merry-go-round for a moment to applaud the woman who had done so much over so many years for the city that they loved.

Jimmy Christmas, Daisy Dalrymple, and Maid Marion, standing beside the truly terrible snowman that they had tried to make – they named it Mashed Potato Man – enthusiastically contributed to the applause.

As did Mouse Meekly, clapping and whistling vigorously from the hot chocolate truck.

Soon everyone else in the park was clapping, too.

Happy to congratulate the woman who inspired the winner of the Frosty the Snowman Competition.

Which occurred on the day after a tempest in a teacup (or was it in a parking space?) had been quelled.

On Chestnut Avenue.

Barely half a mile from Primrose Park.

Copyright © Shelly Reuben, 2021. Shelly Reuben’s books have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. For more about her writing, visit www.shellyreuben.com




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