Chapter 10: The snappy saga of Dot & Dash continues …
Dottie looked out her office window, turning from side to side in her swivel chair. “Oh, my god, I had such a good time last night,” she said into the phone. “I cannot believe how delightful Inky Patterson’s artwork is. I love how he incorporates sand, seaweed, shells, sand dollars, starfish, and bits of driftwood and netting to create his amazing 3D effects.”
“You need to go decaf, sweetie,” Dash joked. “You’re like a hummingbird this morning.”
Dottie laughed and spun a 180 but halted abruptly when she saw her assistant standing there holding a large wicker hamper.
“Ooh, hold on a minute. Amy’s got a package for me.”
“Put me on speaker phone,” Dash said. “Hi, Amy.”
“Hi, Dash,” Amy called toward the phone.
Dottie snipped the ribbon with scissors and tore open the cellophane. “Ooh.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a package from Ollie,” Dottie said excitedly. “It appears to be products from the ranch.”
“Really? What kind of products?”
“What? What?” Dash prompted.
“A loaf of Om Made Bread from the ranch’s Om Sweet Om on-premises bakery.” Dottie laughed.
“What is she laughing at, Amy?”
“She’s reading the card,” Amy leaned toward the phone and whispered.
“What’s it say?” he asked.
“Not telling,” Dottie said, her cheeks pink with excitement.
“Ollie sends you a loaf of bread and you’re all giddy?”
“The card made me giddy, not the bread. And it’s not just a loaf of bread. There’s Om Made cookies and scones, and some Om Grown pickled cucumbers and Om Grown chocolate-covered strawberries. Dash, everything looks wonderful and the bread is so fresh.” She gave the loaf a gentle squeeze and sniffed it. “It smells so good. My office is virtually redolent in fresh-baked goods. Ooh, there’s a jar of Om Is Where the Heart is strawberry jam. Aw, he even included utensils.” Through hand gestures, Dottie invited Amy to sit across from her and open the jam while she sliced open two scones. “Your ranch guests must be leaving there with the need to purchase double-wide Yoga mats.”
“Au contraire, mon ami. Everything is organic and made from only the best, most pure ingredients. No harmful chemicals, no gluten, no added sugar. Sweetened by Nature’s own.”
Dottie mumbled through a mouthful of scone.
“What did she say?” he asked Amy.
“I think she said you’ve got your patter down pretty good. These are delicious, Dash.”
Dottie garbled again.
“She wants to know when she’s going to see some proceeds from Om On The Range’s foodstuffs.”
He heard Dottie laugh.
“She did not. You’re saying that, Amy. Well, you two smarty pants, for your information, Ollie and I are planning an investor’s meeting for next week. We’ve got lots to discuss, i.e., commissioning Inky Patterson to create some specific artwork, upcoming holiday decorations, expansion, et cetera.”
“Expansion?” Dottie gaped at the phone and popped a chocolate covered strawberry into her mouth.
“Do you know how many weddings we’ve got booked for the upcoming season? If we added another wing we’d be able to accommodate more events. We’re even getting corporate bookings for their business retreat functions. The joint is jumping, let me tell you.”
Dottie looked wide-eyed at Amy and rubbed her thumb, index and middle fingers together.
Amy tried to suppress a grin but couldn’t contain herself.
“Maybe you can buy that apartment now,” Dottie whispered to her assistant.
“I want you two to put on your thinking caps and come up with some fabulous ideas for the meeting, OK?”
“You betcha,” Dottie and Amy said in unison. “Where’s the meeting being held? Here or the ranch?”
“The ranch, of course. Ollie and I think it’ll be more conducive for the creative juices to be on-site. How’s that sound, Amy?”
“Well, if my boss will give me the time off…” She looked at Dottie with raised eyebrows.
“Of course.” She nodded at Amy.
Amy’s phone rang. She dabbed at a scone crumb in the corner of her mouth and scurried out to her desk.
Dottie took the phone off speaker and clicked her mouse. “Dash, did you happen to see Boxo’s email this morning?”
“O.M.G., aren’t those like the best wedding photos ever?”
“Some really nice ones,” Dottie agreed. “You dancing with Auntie Beryl is hilarious.”
“She could really cut a rug for an arthritic octogenarian.”
Dottie laughed. “I think you could use some of their honeymoon photos on the ranch’s website.”
“Funny you should say that, sweetie. Just this morning Ollie and I discussed this. He’s having our web techie add that feature. Any of our guests who care to post comments or photos can do so. Good or bad and we won’t edit them. Unless, of course, we think the photos are,” he coughed here. “Of an inappropriate nature.”
“After all, Om On The Range is for children of all ages. Dottie wait’ll you see some of the fabulous things we’ve added. You’ll be amazed.”
“Well, our concierge services have become so over-burdened with requests for all these events – I mean we’re not just hosting anniversaries and birthday parties – we’re booked through next summer for weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs, seminars, you name it. We’ve hired a whole crew to handle the myriad tasks. We’re so blessed with a wonderful staff. They’re all so enthusiastic. And multi-task? Honey, these people volunteer, ‘What else can I do?’ Do you believe it? They all want to learn the business and come up with some pretty cool ideas.”
“I’m so excited.” Dottie beamed.
“We’re constantly adding more packages to the site. We can handle a wedding from start to finish. We can arrange for any sort of clergy to perform the ceremony, calligraphied invitations, transportation to and from the airport, the fabulous catering, of course, music. Everything. Oh, I can get exhausted just thinking about it.”
“Amazing, Dash. I’m so impressed.”
“Well, I’m glad you are, Dottie. Truly. This has been such a dream come true. Everything’s just meshing so perfectly. Would you hold on a minute? Ollie’s calling me.”
“Sure. Say hi for me.” Dottie nibbled the scone and slowly rotated in her chair, her Stella McCartney pumps gently pushing against the carpeting.
“Dottie, Malcolm Lichtenstein on line two,” Amy whispered from the doorway.
“Ugh. Tell him I’ll call him back in a few, OK?”
“He says he’s got to speak to you right now.”
“Oh, that man is atrocious. Would you pick up line one? I’m holding for Dash. I’ll speak to Malcolm for four minutes. That’s it. Thanks.” Dottie closed her eyes, gathered her thoughts, took a deep breath and picked up line one. “Malcolm, how are you?”
“Hi, Dash,” Amy said when he got back on the line. “Dottie had to take another call but she’ll be free in a few minutes.”
“Amy, Amy, Amy. When are you going to give up that city life and come out to the ranch? You know you’d love it here. Ollie and I would just die for you to come run the place.”
Amy blinked rapidly. “Well, Montana’s great, Dash, but …”
“Think of all that fresh air. The smell of pine trees. You know you enjoyed the horses.”
“Yes, I did, Dash. It sounds … lovely, but…”
“The endless blue skies. The clouds floating slowly overhead. The slower pace of life. The crystal clear lake. The snow-capped mountains. The regenerative powers of the spa.”
Amy laughed. “You sound like you’re reading off of one of the pamphlets.”
“I am,” Dash admitted. “But seriously, Amy. Think about it. OK?”
“Well… I was hoping to buy my apartment soon…”
“Oh, honey. You could live right here on the ranch. You’d have your own beautiful quarters – rent free.”
“We’d double your salary.”
Amy’s jaw dropped. After a moment she got her voice back. “That’s very generous of you, Dash, but… if you love it so much, why don’t you move out there full-time?”
“Oh, my god, Amy. I could never leave New York. I’m not a country bumpkin, you know. I need the chaos of a crowded city to keep me on my toes. I’d grow lethargic and my brain would fossilize if I lived here year-round.”
“Mmm,” Amy agreed.
“OK, I’ll take that as an ‘I’ll-mull-it-over’.”
Amy pursed her lips. “Really looking forward to seeing you next week.”
“Oh, you’ll see me tomorrow. I’m flying home tonight. There’s just so much horse manure one man can inhale, you know.”
“Right,” Amy agreed. “Oh, here’s Dottie. See you tomorrow, Dash. And, thank you. I’ll mull.”
“You do that. Bye, sweetie.”
Amy hung up, let her arms drop to her sides and leaned back in her chair.
“Dash,” Dottie sighed, switching gears. “So, what’d Ollie want?”
“He wanted to tell me the Segway’s arrived.”
“Oh, didn’t he tell you? We’ve added Segway Paint Ball to our activities list.”
“You mean those stand up wheelie things?”
“Uh huh. It’s gonna be a huge hit. You should see some of these über competitive business types. The chance to splat their bosses with paint appeals to their corporate rage.”
“Brilliant! Can we play that when we come out for the meeting next week?”
“Business before pleasure, Dottie. Listen, I’m coming home tonight. Have dinner ready, OK?”
“What time? Amy and I were planning on going to the movies tonight.”
“I should get to your place around 7. And speaking of Amy… you should give that girl a raise.”
“She just got a raise,” Dottie whispered.
“Well, let me just tell you. She’s thinking of making the move out here. Full-time.”
“What?!” Dottie jumped to her feet and glowered at the back of her assistant’s head through the glass partition.
“Don’t go getting your thong in a twist. You know she’s not really happy there.”
“What?!” Dottie wadded up a sheet of paper and tossed it at Amy, missing her mark by several feet.
“You don’t want to hold her back, do you?”
“Dash, if you try to steal her away from me, I’ll throttle you.”
“I’m only thinking of Amy.”
“I bet you are. And you’d better stop it right now. You can get your own dinner. We’re going to the movies.” Dottie hung up the phone. She turned and glared out the window. After several deep breaths, and a series of clenching and unclenching her fists, she called to her assistant in a calm voice. “Amy, would you come in here, please?”
Trying to camouflage a guilty countenance with a smile, Amy approached.
“Have a seat.”
“May I?” Amy indicated a chocolate-covered strawberry.
“Knock yourself out,” Dottie replied and paced.
“Something wrong? Malcolm Lichtenstein give you grief?”
“Lichtenstein’s a pimple on my ass compared to my brother.”
“Ah ha!” Dottie pointed at her. “So, it’s true. You’re thinking of leaving to go out to the ranch.”
“No, Dottie. Honest. It’s beautiful out there. Don’t get me wrong. And I’m more than thrilled that Dash invited me in on the deal – and offered me a job… oops.”
“That snake! That sneaky snake!” She spun on her heel and resumed her pacing.
“I’m sorry, Dottie.”
“Oh, don’t be sorry. I’m not mad at you. It’s Dash. He’s such a weasel. I’ve got to come up with something to get back at him.”
Amy nervously nibbled a bit of scone. “Maybe I should just…” she jerked a thumb over her shoulder. “Leave you alone.”
“Don’t even mention the word ‘leave.’”
“Sorry.” Amy studied a crumb on the carpet.
“Grab a pad and pen. We’re going to come up with some ideas for that investors meeting.” Dottie tapped her lip with a pencil. “How does JetSki Water Polo sound?”
“Ooh, fun!” Amy jotted it down.
“Hmm. Could be, yeah.”
“And noisy. Not in keeping with the laid back, relaxing ambience of the ranch, right?”
“Right.” Amy tried to follow her boss’s train of thought.
“Good.” Dottie smiled, her eyes crinkled with evil delight.
“But I don’t see…”
“We’ll tell Dash it was your idea. Then he won’t want to steal you away from me.”
Amy stared at Dottie.
“Well, I just don’t see why I can’t tell him I’m not interested in relocating to Montana, rather than me looking stupid.”
“Stupid? You think JetSki Walter Polo is a stupid idea?”
“Um, well, you said yourself that it’s noisy and could be dangerous and not in keeping with the relaxed atmosphere of the place.”
“I know, but in other circumstances …”
“Right. Sorry. I didn’t mean it was stupid, just not, well…”
Dottie waved the comment aside. “It’s OK. I know what you mean. Hmmm. OK, scratch that.”
Amy crossed a line through it.
“Call Inky Patterson and tell him I want him to come up with some horrendously hokey western-themed piece of artwork. The hokier the better.”
“And the reason for this would be?”
“I’ll tell Dash it was your idea.”
“Again, I’m coming off as looking stupid.”
“Hmmm. True. Damn it!” Dottie sat on her windowsill and urged her brain to come up with something brilliant.”
“I could tell him I’m allergic to grass?” Amy offered hopefully.
“He’d only get you a case of Claritin. I know. How about you say you’d take the job only if your sister and her six kids could move in with you?”
“She’s only got three kids.”
“Can’t she adopt a few more?”
“I doubt it.”
“Good morning, ladies,” Maxwell said from the doorway.
“Good morning, Max.” Dottie smiled at her boss.
“Good morning,” Amy said softly and tried not to chew her lip.
“Malcolm Lichtenstein just called me,” Maxwell addressed Dottie and folded his arms across his chest.
“Should I leave?” Amy asked quietly.
“No, no. Nothing you can’t hear, Amy.” Maxwell’s eyes went to the large wicker hamper on Dottie’s desk.
“Oh, would you like some goodies? Help yourself.”
“He said he was very happy with the way you’re handling his account,” he said absently and lifted a scone. “Where’d this come from?”
“My brother’s ranch. Om On The Range. Out in Montana. Everything’s freshly baked on the premises. All natural. Excuse me. I’ll be right back,” Dottie said and headed towards the ladies room.
“Everything’s organic. And gluten-free,” Amy interjected and handed Maxwell the jam.
“Really?” He spread some jam and took a bite. “Delicious. Is this the place?” he asked and lifted a brochure from the basket.
“Isn’t it handsome? It’s brand new but built from a lot of reclaimed wood. They’re trying to be as green and eco-friendly as possible. It’s a brilliant meshing of rustic and high-end amenities. Not to mention the breathtaking scenery. It would be an ideal place to host our annual meeting,” Amy said softly.
“I’m back,” Dottie said as she entered the room. “Miss anything?”
“I hope you realize what a brilliant assistant you’ve got,” Maxwell said and wiped his mouth.
“Well, of course I do,” Dottie assured him. She glanced at Amy.
“See if you can get a good deal on that, Amy. Thanks. See you at the staff meeting at ten.” Maxwell smiled and left the office.
“What was that all about?” Dottie whispered.
“Oh, I just know that he’s got a gluten allergy. He mentioned it once in the elevator.”
Dottie raised her eyebrow. “What was that bit about getting a good deal on something?”
“I suggested we hold our annual meeting at the ranch,” Amy said quietly and pressed her lips together.
Dottie groaned and slumped into her chair.
“What?” Amy asked in alarm. “I thought it’d be good for … our profits.”
“What a coup. Now Dash will want you more than ever.”
“Let me see if I can reach Inky.” Amy sighed and left the office.
Previous episodes in the Dot & Dash Chronicles:
Born and raised in the Bronx, MARY VETTEL has spent the last 15 years residing in Southampton, NY, where she’s written six of her nine novels, two of her illustrated children’s books, and The Chronicles of Dot & Dash. She also adapted her novella, Greetings From Hell! (based on her three years living in Central Florida) to a stage play which was produced by The Naked Stage of Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY. Her novel, DEATH AT THE DRIVE-IN, is available on Amazon, and her short story “This Ain’t the OK Corral” is included in an anthology by Stone Thread Publishing called The Least He Could Do. You can also view some of her work at www.MaryVettel.com
DEATH AT THE DRIVE-IN
by Mary Vettel
A sometime amateur sleuth, Billie offers to help the cops solve a local murder. One mention of her psychic visions and they scurry, but when a body from a cold case appears in her backyard, they’re all ears. During this turmoil, Billie realizes her accountant, Emmett Gilmour, is sweet on her. She’d like to let him know the feeling’s mutual but doesn’t remember how; it’s been decades since she dated.