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3rd chapter

A Novel Idea - a Soap

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Chapter 3 …… Joelle

 

 

Joelle was organising herself to head off for her lunch appointment with Mildred, when she suddenly remembered she had to email the person who was replacing her while she was on holidays.  Quickly she found the address of the person, unsure who the person was as they were new to the University.  The only information she had was that the name was T.J. Zedka.  She quickly attached the files she had been working on. With the instructions for T.J.  Not having any idea of if J. B. was a guy or girl she just addressed the email as such.

 

She closed of her computer and handed some filing to the girls on the main desk.  They all wished her a wonderful holiday.  She was Flying out to Port City the following afternoon and only just managed to squeeze a lunch with Mildred in, in time.  She headed down to the Cafeteria where Mildred was waiting for her outside.

 

“Sorry I’m late Mil.”  She said out of breath.  “I had some last minute things to finish before Leaving from here after we finish lunch.”

 

“No worries,” Chirped Mildred, “I was running a little late myself, Bigell had dropped by to discuss something that was of little consequence.  But you know him he will make a mountain out of a mole hill.”

 

They placed their orders with Jack, who was assisting Marge and Hilda today, as it was rush hour in the Staff Café.  They ordered a Greek salad and Tomato and Onion pie.  They felt a little like some extra energy so threw in a large slice of Marges fabulous Strawberry and chocolate Triple layer sponge with ice cream and cream to top it off.

 

As an excuse for the decadence Mildred said “We will probably regret getting this but, after the morning I’m sure we have both had, we need it”

 

Hilda had reserved a table for them, as the girls had let her know earlier in the week that they were lunching together at 1pm.  At that hour it was like rush hour in the middle of Rome, everyone trying to find a table, leaving to go back to work, kitchen assistants clearing tables for the next lot of customers.  Hilda had set aside their favourite spot just near the pond under one of the big umbrellas they had up.

 

“So, are you looking forward to you trip.” Enquired Mildred.

 

“I sure am, its been a long time in the planning and an even longer time getting here.”  Joelle took a fork full of salad and savoured it.

 

“Have they told you who is replacing you while your away?”

Joelle had a mouthful of food so quickly swallowed “Yes some one named J.B Zedka, Never heard of them.”

 

“What is the T.J. for? “ asked Mildred,

 

“ Have absolutely no idea”  Replied Joelle.  “I’ve sent them, who ever they are the instruction they need to do the job for the next 6 weeks, so hopefully they are intelligent enough to interpret them, You remember the last person they had replacing someone from my section.  We don’t want another disaster like that!”

 

The girls both chattered and nibbled their way through lunch Joelle filling Mildred on all the activities of the cruise ship, and her itinerary.  “Is there anything you would like me to bring you back, ill be sending you several postcards from each of the stops”.

 

“Hmmm” Thought Mildred.  “Anything will be fine, if its from you I know it will be excellent.”

 

Mildred had to head back to the office to go over the notes the Mr Bigell had dropped off as she had been heading out the door.  The girls hugged and Mildred wished her a fond trip, She reached into her bag and pulled out a package for Joelle.

 

“What’s this?” Asked Joelle

 

“Just a little bon voyage gift” .Said Mildred  with a cheeky grin.

 

Joelle quickly unwrapped the gift, and inside was a sarong and matching bikini in Joelles favourite color.  Which happened to be Mildred’s too, Fuchea.  On it were some lovely white and green flowers.

 

“Oh Mil., thanks its fabulous”  Cried Joelle with joy.

 

“You will knock them dead on the ship” Said Mildred with a twinkle in her eye,  Joelle would look good in a sack of potatoes but she was not about to say that. 

 

The girls parted, going their own way, Joelle to finish the packing and organise her ride to the airport and Mildred to her office   “I wonder what is in the Red file this time”  She asked herself having received “Mr Urgents” most urgent of files…

 

***

 

On arrival at her office Mildred found Tiffany was all in a fluster. 

 

“Whats wrong?” Mildred asked

 

“Oh!!!”  said Tiffany in a very distressed voice.  “Its that horrid little man again.” 

 

“You mean HE is back.”  Mildred had over the years been dealing with a obnoxious client who disappeared.  He was a former staff member who had been sacked due to a harassment episode.  “I hope you called security”

 

“I did, they were here rather quickly, but still  eeek! “  Tiffany had been one of his victims and it always set her in a bad way when was even mentioned.  “Security said he breached his restraining order that was placed on him when he was released from the Psychiatric hospital, and he will be going either back there or to gaol.”

 

“Whew, that’s good!”  Mildred sighed with relief. 

 

Mildred had a bit of a crush on one of the Security guards, and wondered if Ted had come to sort the problem.  Or if he was on night shift.  Ted was an interesting guy, she had no idea if he was single, straight, gay or what.  But he was very friendly and always stopped by for a chat if he was on his rounds.  He kept pretty much to himself.  Mildred thought that Ted looked a little like someone she use to go to school with, but could not remember his name,  It had been years ago.  He was one of the Jocks at school and all the girls were mad in love with him.

 

After getting Tiffany a coffee with lots of sugar in it to help her over the shock, Mildred went into her office and opened the “urgent” file..  It was just as she expected, it could have waited for a day or two as it was just a note to let her know that one of her designs was approved for the letterhead of the new library.  He wanted her to initial some minor changes that executive had suggested and get the file back to him by 5pm that afternoon. 

 

She did so and got one of the junior staff to run it up as she was expecting a retired staff member to come in and assist her with some identification of old staff members.  They were planing on inviting them to the official opening party of the new Super Library.  Mrs Bents was in her 80’s her mind was a sharp as it had been in her youth and she had some of the most fabulous tales to tell.  Some of them could curl your toes.

 

*****

 

Tiffany arrived home and put Mildred’s gift in her open suitcase, :”what a lovely surprise, it must have cost a fortune”  she thought as she started to assess what else she needed to take.  She had made a list of what she Needed, what she would like to take, and who she had to buy gifts for.  So there had to be an allowance so as not to go over the baggage weight limit.  Carefully going over the list she decided that one pair of sneakers was enough.  And One hat was enough.  If she lost them, or they became too badly damaged for some reason she would buy a new one. 

 

Being satisfied that everything was in order Joelle, called her sister Larissa and arranged for the pickup time of 4am.  Seeing it was an early start in the morning, Joelle finished her packing and then headed for a shower and then early bed.

 

******

 

At 3am the alarm went off in Joelles bedroom, she was full of excitement and could not wait to get to the ship.  Her sister was going as well, at 4am on the dot, her sister arrived.  The bags were installed carefully by the driver of the taxi they had hired.  He looked a little bleary eyed, must be nearly the end of his shift.  They arrive at the airport in good time, thanked the driver and gave him an extra tip.

 

Once all their luggage was checked in, they headed off for a coffee to wake themselves up.

There were not too many at the airport at this hour, but it was a little busy with 3 flights just landed and 5 about to depart in the next 3 hours.  Their flight was called so they hurried to the gateway.

 

Once onboard they settled back buckled in and closed their eyes for a bit of a rest.  The plane took off with out any delays.  “Oh good”  thought Joelle.  It was not long before the girls were dozing.

 

After the 4 hour flight they landed without any incidence, they had booked their luggage to go straight to the ship from the airport.  This way it would be less stress and hassle.  The Port City harbour was only a 15 minute taxi ride and it backed onto the major airport they had just landed in.

 

Within the hour they were settled in their cabins and were unpacking.

 

******

 

T.J. Zedka settled into his new office, he had received the email and information packets that Joelle had sent him the previous week.  “Hmf”  he thought to himself.  What can this person tell me I don’t already know.  He had already checked out the scenery and found some People that were of interest to him.

 

“Now there is some talent here T.J. Old boy”  he cockily said to himself, “You could make out rather well if you play your cards right.”

 

Just then one of Joelles co-workers came in to introduce himself and show T.J. around. Bobby Anders had been in the university for a number of years and had worked with Joelle ever since he had arrived.

 

“Welcome T.J.” said Bobby cheerfully “I’m Bobby.  I’ve been asked to give you the grand tour and get you settled in”. 

 

Bobby showed T.J. the usual things, meeting rooms, where all the equipment was and the roster for the UES to staff the Postgraduate area and the Medical library collections.  Next on the list the Staff café and other things that he thought may be of importance for T.J. to know.

 

“Thanks Bobby old boy, nice of you to take the time to show me.” T.J. said while checking himself out in the reflection from the glass in one of the windows.  “Say maybe you can give me the low down on who is who and so forth”.  His main motive for this was to find out which chicks were easy, available and which ones not to waste his valuable time.

 

“Sure,”  said Bobby, not quite sure what the meaning behind the smile and look was that T.J. had given him.

 

****

It had been three days since the ship left the port, Joelle and Larissa had easily adjusted to the motion of the boat thanks to some very good advice from Jose the very cute cabin attendant. 

 

Larissa had already gone off to lunch with one of the guys she had met at the cabaret the previous evening.  Joelle had decided to write out some postcards to be posted at the port first thing in the morning.  She had selected several nice postcards of the ship.  One card she wrote to her friends in the section she worked in.  One was to her family and the other was for Mildred. 

 

                        Dear Mildred

                        Having a wonderful time wish you were here.

                        The ship is fabulous, the food is terrific.  Cant fault

                        The service.  The staff are absolutely wonderful

                        Just the kind of thing I needed.  Miss you heeps

                        Hope this gets to you before I get home.

                                   Love Joelle

 

She finished off the other post cards, was going to pop them into her bag, but remembered in the brochure that the ship had its own post office.  So she put on her hat and sunglasses, and the bikini that Mildred had bought her and headed off.  As she stepped out of the cabin Jose was just coming around the corner.

 

“Good after noon Madam, I do hope you are enjoying your stay with us”  said Jose cheefuly.

 

“Thank you Jose  It’s the most relaxed Ive been in ages, could you direct me to the post office I have some postcards I want to send off.”.

 

“Certainly, I’m heading there myself now, would you care to accompany me.”  His smile shone those pearly white teeth.  He was close to six feet tall very tanned and very well proportioned. the uniform and those gorgeous brown eyes, were enough to make Joelles heart flutter.

 

“Why thankyou “  She returned his smile with one of her own bright grins, and fluttered her eye lashes.

 

Jose offered her his arm as it had got a little rough, she could feel his biceps.  He most certainly worked out at the gym.  They strolled along the passage way, Joelle did not know how he could have found his way around this rabbit warren of passages and doors that all looked the same to her.

 

He deposited her at the Post office, saluted to her,  “If I can be of further assistance, be sure to call on me”  There was that smile again…

 

Joelles knees went week.  She sighed, “Oh if only Mildred were here”.  She had in mind to find Mildred a nice guy to settle down with.  Mildred was such a nice person, but just had a habit of picking the wrong guys to fall for

 

Having posted her letters she went in search of Larissa who said that she would be on the fore deck lounge for lunch at 12.30.  She found her way with no trouble, as the lady in the post office had given her a very good description, of how to get there.  She found Larissa just as she had thought, in deep conversation with a very good looking man.  Just as she approached them, the man excused himself and headed off to an appointment at the onboard spa.

 

“Hmm  he was nice”  Joelle commented to her sister, as she sat down.

 

“Yes his name is Mack and he is from the States.” Larissa was smitten by the tall hansom American.  “We are having a game of badminton tomorrow.  I’m so glad you convinced me to come along on this trip.  Its just what the Doctor ordered. ”

 

There was a buffet lunch so the girls helped themselves to a little of almost everything on offer. 

 

“What are you going to do now”  Larissa asked

 

“Well its so nice outside that I think I’ll take a book out on the deck and catch some sun, then have a dip in the pool.” Replied Joelle.

 

“I’m beat, I think ill have a nap for an hour or so.” Said Larissa

 

Joelle, thought there was a bit of a fib there, she had the impression Larissa was up to something.  Being 10 years older Joelle had helped her mother raise Larissa so she knew her little habits and could read her like a book.

“Ok” Joelle told her sister “but your looking a little pink if you go out again make sure you put on sun screen” 

 

Joelle headed out to the pool deck with a novel she had purchased from the gift shop.  It had been ages since she had the opportunity to read a good book. There was always too much to do and too many people wanting her assistance with one thing or another outside of work time.

 

Being a big hearted person, she was always happy to do so, but there is a limit, and everyone needs some “Me Time”.  She found herself a chair under the awning just near the pool and the life guards chair. 

 

“Good afternoon M’am” the life guard called as he strolled past on his tour around the pool to make sure the passengers were keeping safe and in no danger of sunburn or drowning.

 

“Afternoon ,” Joelle called back.  “Lovely day”

 

“Yes m’am it sure is, you make sure you cover up well with sunscreen” he warned.

 

“Thanks, ill make sure I do.”

 

She settled down with her book, not long after one of the bar staff came around asking if she would like some refreshments.  After ordering a Hawaiian Punch she continued reading, the waiter bought her drink and enquired her room number for the billing.

 

After finishing chapter 4 she decided it was a little warm so she took off the sarong and strolled over to the side of the pool.  Dipping her toe in, to test the warmth of the water, she hated diving in if it was freezing.  She found the water was a lovely cool temperature so plunged in.

 

***

 

T. J. had been taking care of his own business at the same time as doing his work.  He had already scored 5 dates for the next 2 weeks.  2 with other staff members and 3 with students.  He really had no morals at all when it came to mixing business with pleasure.  Mildred had had a run in with him, and found him to be a very unpleasant person to deal with.  Yet when Tiffany went to speak with him he was all smiles and very helpful.  “Hmm” thought Mildred “I’ve got his number”.  She had just made it back to her desk when the phone rang.

 

“Hello, Mildred speaking”

 

“Hi Mil.  Its me”  It was Joelle calling from the ships phone.

 

“Where on earth are you”  Enquired Mildred.

 

“I’m on the ship just heading out of Fiji on the way to Samoa, thought I would give my best mate a call”

 

Mildred was pleased to hear from her “I got your postcard the ship looks fabulous, have you met any nice people”

 

“Tones, the staff are fabulous and Larissa has at least 3 guys on the go.” Joelle laughed.  “How are things going there.

 

“Oh boy the guy, T.J. they have doing your job is a real piece of work” sighed Mildred

 

“Oh what has he done, did you find out what the T.J. stands for.” Joelle had been a little curious.

 

“No but is should stand for Total Jerk” Mildred informed her,” he is hitting on all the pretty girls, and I heard a rumour some of the guys too.”

 

“Good grief, anyway ill be back in 1 week and there is so much to tell you about, gotta dash someone else wants the phone.” 

 

“Thanks for the call Jo, great to hear your voice look forward to seeing you when you get back.”

 

After she hung up, Mr Bigell walked in the door.  “Oh what do you want”  she thought to herself.

 

****

 

The holiday ended on a high, the ships crew had organised a fancy dress for all the passengers and a talent night.  It had been such an exciting but exhausting time..  Joelle and Larissa both finished their packing before going to the party, they only left out the clothes they would need for the morning.  The costume shop onboard had a huge selection of every type of outfit, and it was only a $25 hire fee which $15 of it was returned on return of the clothes, the rest was for dry cleaning and staff fees.

 

“That’s 15, 16, 17… I don’t know how many photos we have taken I’ve lost count” Larissa was sitting on the bed counting the number of rolls they had to make sure they were all there.  “Each of these had at least 36 exposures.  18, 19 I’ve got 19 here”

 

“I’ve got at least 20 and one half finished.”  Joelle was thankful that their brother Lennard was in the photographic industry so he processed all their films for them at a quarter of the cost.  “Its really going to be a chore putting them in order and remembering who was in the photos and all those places.”

 

The girls finished dressing and headed off for the final night party.  Larissa had dressed as Cleopatra, one of her men was Mark Antony.  Joelle had decided to go as Queen Victoria.  She had made friends with the Life guard and he was going to go as Prince Albert.

 

They danced the night away, Larissa won a prize for the worst singing voice, A bottle of champagne .  Joelle won the door prize, a gift voucher to her favourite book store.  At the end their partners walked them to their doors, bid them a good night.  Both girls were in bed and sound asleep before they knew it.

 

The ship docked at 10am, they had organised to get a connecting bus direct to the airport and their luggage sent direct to their flight from the shipping office.  They first had to go through customs.

 

“Been on holidays Ladies?”, asked the customs officer

 

Joelle felt like saying  “No actually we have been robbing a bank” 

 

“Any thing to declare?” He had asked this question hundreds of times… and normally the answer was no,

 

But Larissa being quick witted replied ”  as she was placing her luggage for inspection at the customs counter. “I declare Holidays are great, but it will sure be good to sleep in my own bed tonight

“A comedian that’s all I need” the customs officer rolled his eyes in mock disgust, had not heard that one before.

 

Joelle mentioned a few gifts that she thought might come under the customs controls like boxed chocolates and fruits she had bought on her tour of some plantations and factories.  But they had the proper customs documents attached to them so everything was fine.  The customs man wished them a safe trip home.

 

***

 

It was 11pm before Joelle finally walked in through her front door, she would check her messages on her answering machine in the morning. All she want was bed. 

 

Placing her suite case on the sofa she kicked off her shoes and headed for the bedroom got into her pyjamas brushed her teeth and then climbed into her nice queen sized bed.  “You were right little sis”  she commented to herself.  “Nothing beats sleeping in your own bed”.

 

 

***

 

Mildred phoned Joelle at 11am the following morning to check to see if she got home ok and if she needed a hand with anything.  Joelle, who had slept in until the phone rang woke with a start.

 

“Hi Mil, yes would love a hand, and then I can give you your presents.”  Joelle climbed out of bed and headed in to the shower.  It sure was good having room to move the shower in the cabin was not that large, and when the boat rocked it made it difficult to wash.

 

Mildred knocked on the door at 1pm, she had a basket in her hand, I bought lunch” she offered.

 

“You’re an angle” Mildred could hear the relief in Joelles voice. “I’m starved, If you had not called when you did im sure I would have still been a sleep.”

 

They set about unpacking, and sorting out what was gifts, what was to be washed and what was for Joelle to keep.  It took them a good 2 hours. 

 

“Thanks heaps, it would have taken me so much longer, and your so organised.” Joelle hugged Mildred.

 

The sat with a coffee and chatted, shared the gossip from the library, and the cruise.  Then Mildred headed home.  Joelle headed for a soak in the tub and curled up in front of the TV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©Colleen Hunter 2004

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