Fuck. If I didn’t find a job, and soon, I was going to be so screwed. It had been weeks since I’d lost my job when the tattoo parlor I’d worked for went under. And the unemployment checks I was collecting would eventually run out. I needed a job. Otherwise, I’d have to resort to plan B. A plan I really didn’t want to even think about, taking my aunt Irene up on her offer, and relocating to Oregon to work at her B&B.
It wasn’t that jobs were limited in Middlebury;, it was just people took one look at my lip ring and tattoos and decided I wasn’t a good enough fit. I suppose I could cry discrimination and make a big fuss about it, but I didn’t want to make waves. Instead I chalked it up as that particular job wasn’t the right fit for me after all, and then continued my search for something else. I just hoped that something would come along eventually so I didn’t have to leave. Discrimination aside, Middlebury was a great town, and I loved living there. I just couldn’t afford to stay.
I was parked downtown, and instead of driving from place to place in search of employment, I decided to walk. I needed the exercise, and the brisk fall weather felt great on my face. And, let’s be honest, I couldn’t afford to waste the gas. So walking it was. Plus it was the perfect excuse to work off the cinnamon roll I’d eaten for breakfast that morning.
After hearing, “sorry, we’re not hiring, but you’re welcome to fill out an application,” more than once, I started to feel defeated. It was looking like I was going to have to call Aunt Irene and let her know she was gaining a new employee. But I didn’t want to move. And I sure as hell didn’t want to relocate to Oregon, but what else could I do? I’d exhausted my options in Middlebury, and Clifton, the next town over, as well.
I was making my way back to my car when I saw a little shop I’d passed earlier, but really didn’t pay much attention to. The sign indicated that the place was called Little Creations, and there was a small “help wanted” sign posted in the corner of a window. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. I mean, at this point, what else did I have to lose? So I opened the door and stepped inside.
“May I help you?” A timid voice asked, the jingling of the bell alerting him that I’d entered.
He was a little guy, standing at about five and a half feet tall, with messy dark hair and the saddest eyes I’d ever seen. And when he got a good look at my tattoos and lip ring, he seemed to shrink back a little in fear. That almost had me snorting in humor. Yes, my body was my art canvas, but I had the temperament of a damn Border Collie.
“I saw the help wanted sign in the window and was wanting to fill out an application.”
“I, uh…” He seemed surprised at my . “I mean, do you have any experience with art?”
“Art?” That word perked me up a bit. I loved art and tattooing was my way of expressing it.
“Little Creations is an art studio. I hold classes for kids of various age groups and teach them how to draw, paint, or work with clay.”
“That sounds incredible. And obviously I love art, just in a different way,” I joked and held out my arms to show him some of my tattoos.
On my left forearm was a tattoo of an arrow. I’d gotten it during a rather low time in my life when I needed the reminder to keep moving forward. On my right arm was a willow tree that I had plans to continue building on until I had a full sleeve. So they weren’t anything vulgar, or bad, but even in the year twenty-eighteen, people still saw tattoos as something taboo.
He didn’t step any closer, only leaned forward a little to check out my ink, but the dubious expression was still on his face. Obviously, he was unsure on whether or not he even wanted me to be inside his building.
I sighed. Might as well keep it real with him. “Look, what’s your name?”
“Tyler.” He cleared his throat. “Tyler Walker.”
“I’m Peyton. Peyton Lancaster. Look Tyler, I really need a job. The tattoo shop I was working at went under, and I’ve been looking everywhere. No one will hire me due to my tattoos and facial piercing.”
He looked guilty and cast his gaze to the floor because clearly, he was going to be one of those people, as well. “That’s a shame.”
I shrugged. “It is what it is. But I think I’d be a perfect fit for this place.”
His head snapped up at that. “Why is that?”
“I love art. I designed every tattoo I have. I love kids. And obviously you need help. So it’s a win/win for both of us. Just give me a shot to prove it to you.”
Tyler opened his mouth. “I…I’m not sure. I’m second-guessing if I need any help in the first place. Business hasn’t exactly been booming.”
“And that’s exactly why you need me. The only reason the tattoo parlor went under is because the owner got sick and had to use his money for medical bills. I’m great with marketing, and I’ll be able to increase your business. Just give me a trial run, Tyler. I promise you, you won’t be sorry.”
That was the most promising word I’d heard in weeks. “Give me two months to help you turn this place around. I’m not leaving until you say yes.”
Tyler stared at me, almost like he was analyzing me, and I was certain he was going to tell me no and to never step foot in his place of business ever again. So when he opened his mouth, I braced myself for yet another rejection. I started to make mental plans of what I needed to pack, sell, or throw away for my move to Oregon.
“Fine. I’ll give you two months. Be here at nine tomorrow so you can fill out paperwork, and we can go over everything.”
I had a job. I had a fucking job, and I wouldn’t have to move to Oregon. At least for now. I felt like jumping for joy while screaming at the top of my lungs that I was employed again. But, I managed to control myself. “Thank you so much, Tyler. I promise you won’t regret hiring me.”
“I hope not.”
Now I just had to make sure I kept my promise.