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At the First Sign of Trouble

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Jeanie wiped down a table while looking over at the far end of the counter. Just a few people left in the diner. Tonight’s dinner rush had been particularly busy, due to the fact that one of her waitresses quit yesterday with no notice and she was shorthanded. She had lots of tables to clear by herself tonight. One of those few people left was the pretty young thing that had been coming in for dinner over the last week. She came in near the end of the rush every night and sat alone at the far end of the counter with her dinner. She always stayed after the rest of the customers had left, usually writing or drawing something. Jeanie had taken a peek at the drawing yesterday when walking by her. The girl had talent. Tonight though, she was staring at the paper in front of her and tapping her pencil on the counter, her half-finished fries and clubhouse sandwich sitting forlornly to the side. She was definitely off in her own little world.

DG picked at her fries and sighed. The jewelry had made her some cash, but it would run out sooner or later. She was lucky to find a cheap furnished apartment just a few blocks away. Now she had to find a job or she’d be going through the jewelry cash much too quickly. DG absently doodled in her notebook. Who would’ve thought that running away DOESN’T solve your problems? Now, she was just as lonely and stuck in a new place. California was tons different from Kansas. Sure, in the Zone she just felt like she didn’t belong. Cain had taken off, Glitch was not really Glitch anymore, her parents were rulers (which still boggle and Az, well, she was still adjusting. Lost somewhere in the mix was DG, supposed Princess. DG snorted to herself as she kept doodling. She took another bite of her sandwich and a couple more fries. L.A. This was the last place she’d thought that travel storm would take her. She’d thought it’d be back in Kansas, or maybe one of the other Midwestern states. You know, Tornado Alley. That would’ve made sense. But somehow she’d ended up in L.A. Guess what she read about how travel storms pick up on your wishes was true. It had said you needed to visualize the destination clearly. All she’d visualized was running away. She supposed somewhere in her unconsciousness she’d associated that with California. Maybe watching TV did it. But anyways, here she was, a week later. After another sigh, she finished off her sandwich.

Jeanie discretely watched the new girl finish her sandwich and pick halfheartedly at the fries still on the plate. Something was definitely bothering that girl, the poor little thing. She looked lonely. Maybe she just needed a friend. Lord knows how L.A. can eat new folk up and spit them out. Wonder what her story was. Another wannabe actress who headed out to the West Coast for fame and stardom? Huh. She didn’t look the type. Jeanie wandered towards the girl’s end of the counter. Gotta go fill those ketchup, napkin, salt and pepper containers anyways.

“Is it okay for me to take your ketchup container?”

DG jumped, not expecting anyone to be talking to her. She looked up at the waitress, completely startled, and the pencil stroked a large line right through her doodling.

“Oh! Sorry, sure, go ahead.”

Jeanie smiled in apology and took the ketchup bottle. “Sorry for startling you. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“It’s ok,” DG replied, “I wasn’t paying all that much attention to things anyways.” She looked down at the drawing she had been absently doodling. Well, looked like her mind was on one track. For some reason, she’d doodled the spiral that had been on her hand in the Zone. It wasn’t too badly drawn either, if only she hadn’t just struck a big ugly line right through it. DG sighed.

Jeanie paused, unsure of what to say. She decided just to go with the artwork. “I hope my startling you didn’t wreck your drawing. I’ve noticed your art this last week as you’ve been here. It’s beautifully done.”

“This? Oh, this isn’t anything, just a doodle. I just seem to absentmindedly draw things when I’m preoccupied. If I don’t have pencil and a paper, things are all nervous gesturing and biting nails..." DG trailed off. "And I’m probably boring you with my babbling. Sorry 'bout that.”

DG looked up to find Jeanie smiling gently at her. “Honey, don’t worry about your babbling. This is L.A. I’m sure I’ve seen it all here. Is there anything I can help you with, though?”

DG took a breath and looked down at her drawing and food. “You wouldn’t happen to need a little help around here would you? I’ve got experience waitressing and I could sure use the money.”

Jeanie laughed, “This is L.A. I’m sure you could. I could also definitely use the help. One of the girls quit yesterday. Simon and I could use all the help we can get here. Can you start right now?”

As she put her notebook and pencil away into her backpack, DG smiled and answered, “Sure.”

As DG followed Jeanie into the kitchen to meet Simon, Jeanie mentioned, “Have you been up to the Huntington? I bet you’d really enjoy it there. They have free admission days a few times each month. I love going and looking around there! Everything is so beautiful.” As DG listened to Jeanie talk, she felt just a little less lonely.