Continued from Chapter 5
The next day was Sunday, Johnny’s day off. He woke up to the sound of the telephone ringing. He rolled over and looked into his caller ID to see who it was. He smiled. It was Ben. Johnny picked it up.
“Hey Johnny, it’s Ben. I hope I didn’t wake you.”
“No, not at all.” Johnny lied. “It’s good to hear from you.”
Johnny and Ben talked effortlessly for about twenty minutes before they decided to meet up for an afternoon at Robert Moses Beach. It had been a long, long time since Johnny felt the kind of bliss that you experience at the beginning of a new romance. It was a nice feeling!
The two of them met up at Field 5 in Robert Moses and had the most wonderful day together. After the beach they each headed home for a shower and met up again later for a nice dinner in a little Italian restaurant in Massapequa. Johnny was happy. He and Ben parted ways again after their blissful day together and they promised to see each other again during the week. It was too bad for Johnny that things were still in such disarray at Wellington’s.
Johnny’s week was full that summer. He taught summer school from Monday to Thursday in the mornings, and he worked at Wellington’s from Wednesday through Saturday. That meant that on Wednesdays and Thursdays he’d leave home around 7:30AM and with the way things were going at the flower shop, Johnny wasn’t getting home until around 8PM. It seemed like almost every day he’d return from his afternoon deliveries and be told, usually by Misty, that there were more orders taken while he had been out on the road and that he’d have to go back out. Many nights ended the same way Johnny’s 4th of July ended, with everyone gone upon his return to the shop and he having to put the van keys into the mail slot.
Having just met Ben, Johnny was already wary of the situation, but he hoped that since Stewart helped getting the two of them together, he’d be more cognizant as well and see to it that Johnny was able to leave work at six, the supposed end of his workday. There was already trouble that first week.
Ben worked regular hours, Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, except when the occasional fireproofing emergency popped up. He’d had plans early in the week and asked Johnny to dinner on Thursday. Johnny nervously agreed and he made sure to let both Stewart and Misty know his plans as soon as he got in on Wednesday.
Thursday finally arrived and Johnny was just about to go out on his afternoon deliveries. Before he left, he checked with Misty to make sure there weren’t any more deliveries in the hopper for later on. She assured him that there weren’t any, but that he’d need to go with Stewart to the home of Fifi LaRoux, a regular client that was having a dinner party that night.
Though they had plenty of time, Johnny was worried. Fifi was a desperate socialite who always attempted to use Stewart as not only her florist, but her interior designer, as well. Every time they’d go to Fifi’s house, she’d milk Stewart for as much advice as she could get from him, including which dishes she should use for her place settings and what favors she should give out (she had a whole closetful of goodies stashed away in a closet just for such use.).
Johnny made quick work of his deliveries, trying to maximize the time they’d have at Fifi’s. He returned to Wellington’s at 4:30. He was meeting Ben at 7:30. Stewart wasn’t ready to leave just yet. He had gotten sidetracked with walk-in customers and was still working on Fifi’s dinner table arrangements.
“What can I do?” Johnny asked anxiously, wanting to get the show on the road.
“Get a few pieces of driftwood out of the garage. Pick out small ones, but nice ones…about five of them.”
Driftwood again! Apparently, Fifi’s theme for the evening was that most common of all Hamptons’ themes: the beach! Johnny raced out to the garage, picked out the nicest pieces of driftwood he could find and loaded them into the van. When he was done, Stewart was still fussing over the arrangements. Johnny gave Misty a pleading glance.
“Stewart, Johnny’s got a hot date tonight. Lemme help you with those.” It was the first time Misty had shown Johnny any kindness. He smiled inside.
Within fifteen minutes or so, Johnny and Stewart were headed out the door to Fifi’s. It was already quarter past five by the time they got there. Johnny knew he was doomed from the moment he walked in the door. Fifi was all in a tither about her dinner party. The table had already been set, but she wasn’t sure of the design and it had to be just perfect. She greeted Stewart in near hysterics and he immediately began making suggestions to calm her down. Johnny just rolled his eyes.
An hour and a half later, Johnny and Stewart were finally leaving Fifi’s. “I’m so sorry Johnny.” Stewart apologized. “Can you still make your dinner?” Johnny said nothing, exasperated once again. They rode back to Wellington’s in silence. Perhaps Stewart realized how unnecessarily frustrating things were for Johnny, as he didn’t press the issue.
Johnny called Ben when they got back to the shop around 7. Johnny’s ride home was at least 45 minutes and Ben lived another half hour or so beyond that, so it would be at least 9 before they would even meet up. Since they both had to be up early the next morning, there was no choice but to cancel their date. Johnny could hear the disappointment in Ben’s voice, but he was afraid to reschedule for Friday because he’d be working at Wellington’s again. He promised to call Ben in a couple of days.
Johnny cursed Fifi and her damned dinner party as he headed home.