(This is Part 2 of Fortune Cookie: A Christmas tale)
It was Rosalyn’s financial expert from Fiduciary Answers Today (FAT), who also happened to be a specialist in mortgage-based derivatives. He skipped the formalities of saying hello.
"You know, Roz, I hate to tell you this …”
Rosalyn drew her lips into a thin line. The man’s nasal tone bordered on whining.
“… but your stable account doesn’t look so good … ”
Rosalyn protested. “But you said these would go up!”
“Guess I was wrong.” His voice cracked. “Oh, well. You know stocks are never guaranteed.”
“But it’s OK, they were insured, right?”
“No … no, these kinds of things are never insured," he said.
Rosalyn slammed the phone down and cursed the dishonest pukes of the world. She picked up the snow globe boyfriend number five had given her last Christmas, and fast-balled it at the wall. Fortunately for the house-cleaning load, the snow globe was made of shatter-proof plastic.
Rosalyn flung herself into the worn office chair and spun around. "The stock market gods hate me! I’ll never get the reserves back.” She put her head in her hands. Silence reigned for several minutes before Rosalyn raised her head. “I need some air,” she told the walls.
Next to her feet, Buck the dog whined.
Cocooned in his new red-dually-totally-tricked-out Dodge truck, tall, blond, ruggedly cheek-boned and healthy - not to mention rich - Bodie McClanahan should have been happy. The radio’s blaring revision of “Jingle Bells” into a sound bite for diarrhea relief irritated him. He punched the “off” button. Stroking the steering wheel in relative silence, Bodie realized that once again, happiness eluded him, and betrayal was his only companion.
He remembered the last woman who loved him, until he cut off her allowance. “Oh yeah, Money-Mona,” Bodie muttered. “Loved your red hair, loved your looks, hated you…” The engagement ring from his latest fiasco rolled around in his shirt pocket. He picked the ring out, and tossed it on the passenger seat. The gaudy diamond glittered back at him.
A dashboard warning light interrupted Bodie’s not-so-fond musings. Fuel was running low. Just then, a gas station came into view. Bodie pulled over and stopped at one of the cement islands.
As fuel gushed into his tanks, Bodie looked down. An old penny lay on the ground. His grandmother always said they brought luck. Bodie reached down and pocketed the coin. He switched off the fuel and sauntered inside the convenience store for a drink.
As part of a promotion to win free gas, the cashier handed Bodie one of Woo's Fine Fortune Cookies. Bodie tore open the clear wrapper, broke the cookie in half, and pulled out the fortune.
“You will hit upon a thing of great value," said the little slip of paper.
"And it won't be a woman," he muttered.
Bodie pulled out of the gas station into traffic. His cell phone sounded the musical call of Mona.
Amazed, he flipped open the receiver. “I told you not to call again,” he said. “… No, we’re not having that discussion … The only thing I’m discussing with you is my key. I want it back. Now …”
Rosalyn walked outside her rambling farmhouse on the bluff, and surveyed her small slice of paradise. Her breath caught in her chest. It looked like her days in paradise were numbered. She watched Excalibur trot up to the fence, lifting his knees and hocks like a parade horse. It reminded her of when she had first seen him move in the stockyards, way too fancy for a reject.
Always armed with horse treats, Rosalyn walked toward the fence. She reached into the pocket of her Wrangler cowboy-cut jeans, pulled out a treat, and held out her hand.
Rosalyn crooned to the horse almost as if she were singing. "What a corny name you have, my friend. They ever tell you about King Arthur and his sword, Excalibur?”
The horse twitched his ears several times. Rosalyn smiled. Only a horse could pull her from despair. “Maybe it’ll be a woman, not a man, who gets Excalibur to perform this time,” she crooned. The horse tossed his head. Rosalyn swallowed hard. “Besides, we have no princes around here. Just crummy financial experts."
She had reached the white-railed fence.
The palomino horse whirled and galloped away, flagging his tail. Rosalyn looked up, and felt a chill gust of wind. Clouds gathered, and of all things, she remembered Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. The scene where Scarlett dug her fingers into the dirt in the garden as they all starved. Scarlett would never put up with this crap. Rosalyn swore to the threatening sky: “As God is my witness, I’ll never let …”
The crunch of metal on stone interrupted her.
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(Next: Blood covered her hand)