Continued from here…
Stewart was on the phone with James, pacing back and forth and looking very nervous. Penelope matched his every pace, jumping in on the conversation when she could.
“Doesn’t he know anybody that can do it?” Stewart wasn’t paying her any attention.
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. Oh my God, James, if we can’t get this done…” he was exasperated at that point. “Alright, alright, call me as soon as you know anything.”
It was already well after 6PM on a Friday night. They had to find some way to get all of that driftwood certified fireproof or else the event would be a disaster for Stewart and for Wellingtons. The “One with Nature” Benefit was an important event for him, both personally and professionally. He genuinely liked Penelope and wanted to please her in appreciation for getting him this job. Professionally it was just as important. The event attracted a lot of influential people and it was being covered by the widely read Hamptons Magazine.
Luckily, these were the types of situations where James excelled. Though not very involved in the day to day operation of the flower shop, when it came to getting things done James had a keen business persona and was very astute at making things happen. Besides, when it came to helping Stewart, there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do to help.
Within minutes, Johnny’s cell phone rang.
“Johnny, it’s James. Put Stewart on.” James wasn’t one for niceties and apparently, Stewart never ended the previous call on his phone.
“Stewart, it’s James.” Stewart rushed over toward Johnny and grabbed the cell phone.
“What happened?” Stewart walked away from the group. The conversation was over in a flash. “Johnny, we gotta get the driftwood back into the van and get it back to the shop. James found somebody who’ll be there in a half an hour.”
In seconds, Johnny, Jaden, and Stewart were rushing to get the heavy boxes back into the van. Penelope even did her part by picking up the loose pieces they’d dropped along the way.
“Well I’m glad that’s taken care of. I’m off to dinner with Wallace. We’ve got a reservation at Trata. I’ll see you in the morning.” With that, Penelope was off…and then there were three!
Stewart had brought in a lot of help for this event. While he, Johnny, Jaden and Penelope were out at the site, the worker bees were busy making cocktail table arrangements and favors. Even more of Misty’s friends came out for this one, arriving by jitney a couple of days ahead of the event for a little work and play. Jackie was there and so was Kona’s old buddy Andre. The shop was as crowded as Johnny had ever seen it.
The fireproofing guy was already at the shop when they arrived. His ride from Nassau County, which was much further distance-wise than East Hampton, was quicker than theirs. Johnny was tasked to work with the guy, helping to lay out all of the pieces of driftwood out on blankets in the back garden so the man could spray them with the flame retardant. He thought the guy was cute, so he didn’t mind doing the dirty work while Jaden went inside to help the others.
They worked until well after dark fireproofing the countless pieces of driftwood. First Johnny would lay out all of the pieces from one box on the blanket, and then turn them over so Ben could get the other side. Yes, Ben, that was his name. He was a really pleasant guy, and he and Johnny got along well. All the while they were engaged in conversation, Johnny fantasized about asking Ben out for a date. He hadn’t really dated anyone since his breakup that past year.
Johnny couldn’t tell whether or not Ben played for his team, so he just waited for an opportunity to present itself, though it never did. At least the time passed quickly and Johnny could enjoy his little daydream as they chatted. It was around ten o’clock when they finished.
“Johnny I need you back here at 8AM sharp!” Johnny was jolted back into reality. Ben was now a memory and he had to drive the hour home and try to get some sleep. He dreaded coming back in the morning. At least Stewart was happy. In fact he was downright giddy. The whole gang had been inside working, chatting, and having a good time as they toiled to get things ready for the party, and they probably had a bite, too.
Jackie had gone home earlier to tend to her family and Andre went to his hotel to get some sleep. All that were left was Misty and her friends. James had come by with a few bottles of wine and by the time Johnny came inside to say goodnight they were at least a couple of sheets to the wind. He didn’t care…Johnny was tired and wanted to go home.
“G’night Johnny!” Misty blew him a kiss.
“Nighty, night Johnny Driver,” the rest of them mocked in unison.
“Night,” Johnny mumbled as he walked out of the shop and towards his car.
The next day felt even more like an eternity than the day before. Johnny showed up at eight, as promised, and though he was tired, he knew he felt better than the rest of them. The event setup ended up being uneventful. The driftwood was certified fireproof by the Mercedes-driving East Hampton Fire Marshall, and in the end it looked pretty good. But it was another long day of hard work with Misty and her crowd. It was only the second week of June and already Johnny was getting tired of working at Wellingtons.