James made a decision. Tired that only three of the adults living in this house were actively working and bringing in money, he talked it over, first, with Ericka their mother, then after she agreed he approached his youngest brother, Jett.
“Jett, it occurs to me that I only have three days a week to run the restaurant. Seems a shame it isn’t opened all week long. I really hate to disappoint the customers, you know?” He said, draping an arm over his younger brother’s shoulders.
“Yeah, I see what you mean. What do you propose to do about it? You have to work.”
“And that’s my point, exactly. Mom is working, Carley is working, I’m working. And you — what is it you do these days? I know you graduated high school recently.”
“Barely. And finding a job isn’t going so well, either. One look at my transcripts and it’s, sorry, that position has been filled. I guess I should have paid better attention in class.”
“Tell you what you need. You need some experience so that when you’re ready to get a different job, you can have something other than those rather lousy transcripts to speak for you. How about if I make you a manager of the Oak Alcove Diner, and you go and run things for me for a few days a week. I’ll do Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, unless or until my schedule changes and you can take Fridays, Saturdays, Sunday’s and Mondays.”
“You mean it, James? I could be the manager for most of the week? Manager, that’s quite a responsibility.”
“Like I said, if you do well, I’d be more than happy to write up a glowing report for your resume.”
No sooner had Jett taken over the diner, than James began to regret this decision. Bills from the place came piling in, all but eating up any bit of profit. What was the kid doing? He brought the bills over to Carley to show her. She flipped through the envelopes.
“Nobody said running a restaurant was cheap,” she said.
“Yeah, but I left over §1000 in the account. Now it’s barely over §200.00. What in all of Newcrest is he spending it on? If he keeps up this kind of spending, at this pace we’ll be broke in less than a week.”
Carley sat on the bed next to her husband. “Why don’t you ask him?”
“No, after I sold him on the idea and promised to write a good review for him, I can’t start interrogating him. He’s only been at it for less than three days.”
“So, you’d rather chew my ear off, is that it?”
“No. But there is something you could do for me. Other than listen to me grouse, that is.” James got that look in his eye again.
“Oh, let me guess, you need me to be your spy again. Need I remind you, that’s your mother’s purview. I’m working toward being an astronaut!”
“I just need you to drop in, give him a break, and see what’s going on. I mean, it shows here, he’s hired another waiter and another chef, too. Honey, you’ve got to help me out here. I’ve still got two more days before my ‘shift’ at the restaurant comes around.”
“Oh, all right. I’ll do it.”
The next afternoon Carley traveled to Newcrest. She casually strolled into the diner. What met her eyes had her gobsmacked. When she toured the place just after James made the purchase there was only three booths. Now, there was a fourth table along the east wall. An additional cook station in the kitchen, and a new waiter and a chef, too. The bathrooms had also been altered, the kitchen extended. This young man acted as if the place was his. Who authorized the renovations? No wonder James was worried.
To his credit, the place was humming. He was quick to greet the guests as they arrived, checked on their tables, expedited food whenever necessary. She also found out from the staff that he’d paid for additional training, for each of them in turn. Carley realized the training was a must, so Jett couldn’t be faulted for that. James probably would have done the very same. She knew she would have also.
“Carley,” Jett greeted with open arms. “What brings you here, have you been given a table yet?”
“Jett, the place is absolutely humming along. I was just in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop in. You know I really haven’t been here since the walk-through. My, how it’s changed.”
“Well, yeah. I suppose I should have talked it over with James, first. But, he did make me a manager, and, well, some things needed to be changed. Does no good to hire a second chef to keep up the pace, if you don’t have a cook station. And that required the kitchen be enlarged. I’m thinking we may need yet another table, if not two, so I had the contractor make the bathrooms shorter.”
“I always thought they were a tad too roomy. Okay, I’ll take over for a bit. You probably could use a break.”
“Actually, I’m fine. It’s only been a couple of hours.”
“Well, to be honest, I need to get some hands-on experience with this. Once James quits his other job, we’ll be doing this full-time. So, if you don’t mind, this is my only day off this week. Why don’t you go take a walk, and if I get into any trouble, I’ll call you, okay?”
“Well, okay. All right. I’ll just take a quick walk. I’ll be back shortly.”
Things went well, the place was busy. Carley realized this was something she could do. She was even excited to see their old friend, Kai Mena, come in.
“Hey, Kai, so good to see you.”
“Carley, I heard you and James had opened up a diner. This is really a nice little place. Rory would have liked it.” The host showed Kai to a table. A few minutes later, Carley felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise, as well as those on her forearms. People stood up, dishes crashed to the floor. She turned quickly, catching the oddest image in the corner of her eye. A Sim all dressed in very black clothing, carrying a huge mean looking scythe, floated inward upon a cloud of dark gray smoke.
Carley’s knees went weak. Glancing quickly around her, she saw Kai Mena on the tiled floor. “Kai, oh no! Somebody call nine-one-one! Hurry!” Carley threw her hands over her mouth. This was the man who had officiated over her wedding. She felt faint. That dark Sim, whose face could not been seen beneath its hood loomed over Kai’s still body.
Carley had heard old tales that it was possible to plead with the Grim Reaper to spare a Sim from death. She had never met a Grim Reaper before, but what was there to lose? Bending her knees before this entity, she clasped her hands and pleaded for all she was worth. Sadly, to no avail. Kai Mena was gone. He was elderly and it was just his time. Sniffing back her emotions, she stood back up. As the active manager on duty, she made the call to the proper authorities to come deal with his remains. James wasn’t going to like this, but they were going to have to close the restaurant for a couple of days, at the least.