Mags Davidson screeched when the phone struck her.
"What in the name of all that's holy?" Mags yelled, rubbing her shoulder. A young woman holding a smoke detector, inhaled sharply, and Mags apologized. "I was praying," Mags explained. "I am very religious."
"Is it okay to pray here?" the customer said.
"I think so. No one's mentioned a separation of church and home improvement," Mags explained, and the customer smiled. "I am sorry. Sometimes my mouth just runs away on me."
"Apology accepted," the customer said. "Are you all right?"
"I will be. Right now I'm trying to figure out what hit me," Mags said.
"That gentleman over there threw a phone. That seems dangerous," the customer said.
"Why it does, doesn't it?" Mags said, suddenly remembering the caller on line one. "Miss, if you don't mind, I'm going to have Wilton ring up your purchase over at register twelve," Mags said, shuffling the customer in the direction of Wilton's station. Mags found the phone by the front door. It had bounced off her shoulder, and skittered another fifteen feet. "Were you looking for this?" Mags asked Stockwell, who hung his head in apparent shame.
"I was," Reeve Stockwell said.
"Well, good news. No one called while it was sailing across the store, hitting me in the shoulder, or laying on the floor."
"I am sorry I lost my cool," Stockwell said sheepishly.
"Lost your cool?" Mags asked. "Look it, I know you're my boss, and I am supposed to respect you, and all that other mumbo jumbo, but you just threw a friggin' phone at me, and what irks me even more, is that it's distracting all of us from the fact that there is a bomb in the store!" Mags said, looking suddenly panicked.
"There's no bomb. It was Kitty grandmother on the phone," Stockwell explained.
"Ada? No shit," Mags said.
"Language," Stockwell reminded her.
"From the phone thrower," Mags chided.
"In fact, I need to deal with Kitty. Two police officers are on their way. Please let them know the threat was a prank, and call me when they arrive. I'll deal with them," Stockwell told Mags.
"Shall I say anything to them?" Mags asked.
"I'd rather you didn't."
"I'll just chat them up. Maybe ask a bit about restraining orders and the likes. Just in case the phone throwing isn't an isolated incident."
Reeve Stockwell walked laboriously toward his office. He wondered how many more days he could take like this. He paused at his office door, knowing Kitty was inside. He chose not to delay the inevitable, opened the door, and stepped inside.
Kitty was staring at the wall.
"Am I fired?" Kitty asked.
"I'm not?" Kitty said, making eye contract.
"Technically, this is your first offense, and in reality, it's not even your offense," Stockwell said. He felt calmer in his office. Perhaps it was knowing the king size bag of Reese's cups were in his desk.
"My first offense?" Kitty asked, her voice soft.
"Yes. Kitty, you equally delight me and drive me to the candy aisle in the CVS across the street, but being a pain in my ass is not necessarily against policy. Tommy's Tool Town is pretty much a melting pot of diversity. Everyone here irritates me from time to time. You're just at the front of the line."
"I'm not sure what to say."
"You may start with anything that might give me a clue as to why Ada would call in a bomb threat," Stockwell said.
"She likes to hear about my days here. Let's just say, I'm the Helen and Ada whisperer. The more I talk, the less they scream at each other. It can be a regular throw-down with those two," Kitty explained.
"And we're getting to the bomb threat?" Stockwell asked.
"We are. Gran watches a lot of crime shows. She and Helen could process a crime scene better than any CSI ever trained, although they'd probably kill each other before any crime got solved. Last night, over the Stouffers they fought over for thirty minutes, I told them about the bomb threat training. Gran got the idea to test our skill, in the hope that, if she called, Horatio Caine would come."
"And who is this Horatio person?" Stockwell asked.
"He is on CSI Miami."
"A television show?"
"Yes," Kitty whispered.
"Your grandmother is a strange woman," Stockwell commented.
"You cannot even begin to imagine."
"Kitty, if anyone else told me this story, I would think they'd gone completely nuts. From you, it's almost believable."
"Thanks. I think," Kitty mumbled.
The phone on Stockwell's desk chirped and both he and Kitty stared at it.
"You gonna get that?" Kitty asked.
Reeve Stockwell picked up the phone, and put it to his ear. "Stockwell."
Kitty could hear a loud voice through the phone. She stared at the floor.
Reeve Stockwell hung up. He stared at Kitty.
"What?" Kitty asked.
"I'm afraid your worlds are about to collide. The cops are on their way to pick up your grandmother. Sonny needs to interview her. He has to create a report for Corporate."
Kitty went completely pale. "Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. This cannot be happening." Kitty began to rock in her chair, and Stockwell felt something that bordered on sympathy. "Oh, shit. Oh, no," Kitty mumbled, repeating the words again and again.
"Kitty. You all right?"
"Nope. No. No way, not even close. Please, Reeve," Kitty begged. "Please don't let them do that. My grandmother cannot come here. I come here to be safe, and to see Mags, and everyone else. I am happy here. I am not really all that happy anywhere else. I'm happy when I write, and I'm super happy when I eat Count Chocula before bed and have that dream where Johnny Depp awards me the Pulitzer, and then says, 'hey, Kitty, you going to the Vanity Fair party afterward?'"
Kitty carried on hysterically, and Stockwell just stared at her.
"My grandmother dresses weird, and yells because her hearing is bad, and she farts, and doesn't know it, because her hearing is bad, and sometimes when I go to the store, I pretend I don't know her. She doesn't know I'm ignoring her, the sweet thing, probably because her peripheral vision took a shit about twenty years ago, and you can sneak up on her from two inches away. Anyway, when people look at her, and believe me, they all do, I look at her, and do that thing, you know the thing where you take your finger, and whirl it around, like someone's a bit batty, or something, you know that thing, Reeve?"
"Kitty, have you ever considered talking with someone?"
"I'm talking to you."
"I'm your boss, not your therapist."
"I know," Kitty whined, afraid she might cry.
"Oh, for crying out loud. Don't cry. Here," Reeve said, going for the gusto. He reached into his desk drawer, and pulled out the enormous bag of chocolates. That did Kitty in. She bawled like an acne-ridden teenager who hadn't been asked to the middle school dance. "Kitty, don't. Please don't."
"I am just so touched that you'd share them with me," Kitty whimpered.
"Don't be all that touched. It was selfish. I was just hoping you'd shut up because I have absolutely no idea what to say to you."
"Aw, shucks," Kitty said, gaining some control.
"Put some in your pocket, kiddo. Let's wait outside. I don't want anyone to think I actually did kill you."
Kitty followed Stockwell to the door.
Lucie Goosie and Bernice Lord had arrived while Kitty had been holed up in Stockwell's office. Both ran to her side.
"Are you okay, Kitty?" Lucie asked.
"Of course. Kitty is always okay," Bernice said.
"Thanks, girls. I'll be all right." Kitty walked to the front door, and looked outside. A cop car pulled up. Two deputies exited, and one opened the rear door. Ada MacKenzie stepped out, and Kitty gasped. "Mother of God, give me strength." Stockwell watched her from twenty feet away. Kitty turned. "If you ever really wanted to kill me, now would be a really good time."
The doors whooshed open and Ada staggered in, accompanied by the two deputies. Kitty could tell they were trying not to laugh.
"Sweet Jesus," Stockwell said.
"Oh, my. Hello, dear," Ada said, toddling to where Kitty stood. Ada took her in her bony arms, and Kitty looked over her shoulder to where her co-workers stood. Their mouths were all hanging open.
"Grandma, what in the hell are you wearing?" Kitty asked.
"Isn't it fabulous? I made it from your prom dress. You weren't ever going to wear it again. No forty-year-old woman goes to a prom, unless she's a chaperon or a pedophile, so I wanted to repurpose it. Do you like it?"
Ada had fashioned the prom dress into something that looked like a tutu. She wore her purple spandex pants, and pink sneakers. An enormous parka, three sizes too large, protected her small frame from the intense wind. The parka was unzipped and barely concealed an I'm sexy and I know it, tee shirt.
"It's lovely," Kitty said, wishing she could click her heels together and disappear.
"Good. Because I made you one, too," Ada said.
"That would come in particularly handy if you're ever offered a role in the Nutcracker," Mags said, from two feet away.
"I think she's cute," Lucie Goosie said.
"She rocks," Bernice said.
"Oh, look at those Tommy shirts. Everyone's got one, and they all match. I'd love to have one of those. I have some flowered slacks that would look hot with a Tommy shirt." Ada nearly squealed with delight.
"Ada, if you give me your statement, I'll hook you up with a shirt," Reeve Stockwell said.
"And you are?" Ada asked.
"I am Reeve Stockwell."
"Of course you are. I should have known you. Kitty tells us all about you," Ada said, and Kitty blushed.
"And what does Kitty say?" Reeve asked.
Kitty took a deep breath. She loved her grandmother, loved her like crazy, no matter what she looked like. At ninety-nine, Ada had a good, long life. She'd seen the Beetles, and Elvis, and Madonna, twice, in concert. If Ada's ticker gave out right at that moment, before she said another word, Kitty would mourn like a good grand daughter, and all her secrets would go to Ada's grave, along with the spandex, the Hello Kitty collectibles (she wanted to be buried with) and the tutu.
Kitty wished the old woman dead, for a mere second, but long enough to know she'd be struck by lightening the next time the sky got angry.
"Kitty says you want to kill people. I could profile you, if you'd like. I've become quite good at it," Ada offered.
"Perhaps another time," Stockwell said, sending the death stare over the top of Ada's head, in Kitty's direction.
"Let's get you to my office, take that statement, round up a shirt for you, and get you home before you catch a chill," Stockwell said.
That was the best idea Kitty had heard all day.