Episode 8: "Petty"
Part One

Grayson Realties Office, Blount Building, Downtown

Nina Parkherst stared at the sign-up list laying on her desk. Beside the names were various amounts of money, contributions to the birthday present fund collected for their boss, Penelope Grayson. Fishing into her pocket, Nina pulled out a handful of change. Slowly counting with her eyes, Nina totaled the sum of sixty-three cents. She bit her lip to keep from sobbing.

She slunk down in her office chair and unzipped the main pocket of her purse. Rummaging around, Nina found only a single sheet of paper, folded neatly on the bottom of the purse. She pulled out the paper, unfolded it slowly, and read it slowly. Letter of intent...eviction from building...if payment not made in the next seven days. Nina couldn't finish the paper for her vision was blurred by a prison of tears. She blinked several times, releasing the tears from her eyes' clutches. She snatched a tissue from a box on her desk and dabbed the streams on her cheeks.

Nina had not the heart to tell anyone, especially Kendra, that she barely had enough money to live. Not only was she in danger of eviction, she had lost her living room furniture to repossession and still owed a considerable amount to her credit card company. Her parents, to whom she hadn't spoken to in two years, had disinherited her since she ran away from home. Relatives had taken her parents' side, and turned their backs on her whenever she bade them to help her. Still, she valued her independence more than any privileged life her parents could have promised.

Her liberty came at a price and with less than a week until her rent was due, Nina had narrowed her options down to one. Her fingers crept over the keyboard of her computer, desiring to end her misery with few simple keystrokes. Looking around for any watchers, Nina logged onto the company account on the Regions Bank website. Two thousand will do right now. I can replace some of it with my next paycheck. The thoughts came too easily, guiding her to the petty cash account of the company. Her fingers gained speed with every letter typed until finally, towards the end, she came across the list of names eligible to be paid. She moved the cursor to her name, clicked the radio button beside it. She slid the cursor over the send button.

She sat back in her chair, staring at the screen. Desperate times called for desperate measures, yet this move was taking measures to the extreme. There was no other way.

She clicked the send button.

Part Two

Retro Vinyl Record Store, Palm Terrace Plaza

"Oliver, my man! Nice to see ya," Jake greeted as he strode through the doors of Retro Vinyl Records. He approached the cash register and shook Oliver's hand.

"Ahh, yes, I know why you're here." Oliver reached down behind the sales counter and delicately retrieved a purple plastic bag. "I knew there would be a revival of interest in Jimi's music, but I figured people would just go for the CDs." He pulled out the large album with the orange and red headshot of Jimi Hendrix. "You know, that digitally re-mastered crap. But you, my man, you have taste." He sighed, admiring the album. "Nothing beats the original."

Jake watched as Oliver smoothed the cover gently with his hands, brought it close to his nose, and sniffed the edge of the album. "Dude, can I just go ahead and pay for it?" He reached out toward Oliver, who shrank back from Jake's touch and clutched the record possessively. "What is wrong with you?"

"Well, for starters, where have you been for the last couple of days?" Oliver questioned though his eyes stayed focus on the record.

Jake rolled his eyes. "If you must know, I was in Jacksonville for the Tempests' games. I was covering them for the Tribune. Why do you ask?"

"It would have been nice if you would have told someone, namely me, so you could have delegated your social responsibilities in time." Daintily, Oliver held the album close to his chest, tipped its opening upside down, and caught the record as it slid from the cover's grasp. Gingerly, he examined the shiny surface and shook his head. "Superb condition. Smells incredible." He murmured.

"What social responsibilities? I don't have any social responsibilities..." Jake sputtered, confused and annoyed by Oliver's behavior. "Oliver, just ring up the damn album."

"Yes, you do, at least one, and it includes a certain cousin of mine who happens to be one of your closest friends. So I thought." Oliver slid the record back into the album sleeve and perused the track listing on the back of the cover. "So rare, not sure where to find another copy, and in such good condition."

"Lana? What about Lana? She knows I left, I talked to her the day before I went. Would you please focus your attention on me, Oliver? This is starting to get on my nerves." Quickly, he leaned over the counter and grabbed Oliver's shirt in his hands.

But Oliver stayed cool, continuing to read the album. "You're getting on my nerves because you are so preoccupied with yourself that you forgot the date of the day you left."

Jake frowned, trying to piece together Oliver's subtle clues. "The day I left...the sixteenth...of...oh, NO!" He let go of Oliver and straightened himself. "NO, NO, NO! I totally forgot." He clamped his hand against his forehead. "Lana's birthday, I freakin' forgot! She must be furious, what am I going to do?!"

"You tell me," Oliver played with a piece of cellophane tape on the front of the album. "You're lucky she's actually not pissed at you. You're lucky she went ahead and had a good time, thanks to Bryce McKeon-" Jake shot Oliver a dirty look "-You're lucky that she didn't denounce the friendship she shares with you."

Jake came close to punching Oliver for his remarks, but he knew Oliver was right. He knew that he had never forgotten Lana's birthday since they met. After all the times she had been there for him, and he couldn't at least remember to wish her a happy birthday. "I'm fortunate to have Lana as my best friend. I get it. I'll make it up to her. Now, may I please have the album?"

"I don't know, Jake," Oliver finally tore his eyes from the album, giving him a daring look instead. "I might not grasp another copy like this beauty again."

Part Three

In Field Fly Sports Pub

Kendra's icy blue eyes observed Bryce as he competed against Lana in a game of pool. She glowered whenever they laughed at each other, fumed whenever Lana came in physical contact with him, and burned whenever Bryce smiled his handsome smile at her.

And Bryce had not even said as much as hello to Kendra all night.

Sour with impatience, Kendra strutted over to Simon's table where he was busy telling crude jokes to Jake, Mae, and Oliver. With her best dazzling smile, she tapped Simon on the shoulder. "Hello there," she cooed, batting her eyelashes at him. "Mind if I join you?"

Simon's gape only annoyed Kendra, but she put up her best front and slid into an empty chair next to him. "That's uh, quite a shirt you're wearing." She struggled to find a positive remark to start.

"Ahem," Simon cleared his throat. "Why, thank you. It's Polo." Mae snickered and Kendra shot her a poisonous look.

"It goes nicely with, your, um, hair," Kendra bit her bottom lip. I'm sinking to a whole new low, she thought, reaching out to brush her fingers against Simon's curly hair.

Simon hesitated, before pulling his head away from her touch, his eyes narrowed at her. "My hair, huh? Tell me, Kendra, what kind of bullshit are you going to feed me before you get to tell me why you're really sitting here?"

"What?" Kendra sputtered, helplessly trying to cover her mistake. "What are you talking about?"

"Oh, you know exactly what I'm talking about," Simon said nastily. "You're never this nice to me. I know you want something, but what can I do for you, besides offer you the world and my services as your own personal slave?" Kendra remained silent, her eyes glancing over Simon's shoulder at Bryce. Simon turned his head to follow her gaze. "Oh, I get it now. Well, well, well. You're interested in Bryce." He smirked. "I can tell he's real interested in you. One question, does Bryce even know you exist?"

Kendra looked around the table. Mae and Oliver's eyes offered no sympathy. Jake's eyes would not meet her own. She pursed her lips and left the table. She stomped by Bryce's pool table, purposely knocking shoulders with Lana as she shoved by her.

"Hey!" Lana exclaimed indignantly, taken by surprised.

Kendra slightly glanced over her shoulder. "Excuse me," she cooed coldly as she headed for the nearest exit.

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