Episode Eight: The Customer Written by Ryder Smith
It was just another regular autumnal day in Foxgrove, and Gita was already on her third cup of coffee. Despite her love for coffee it made her a bit wappy which, with her already over-the-top nature, was a sight to behold. Haresh had learnt to avoid her when she was like this, as she always went stir crazy as a result.
Last time she’d drank this much coffee she was practically bouncing off the walls. It was like she was auditioning to play Tigger. In the midst of her coffee-addled state, she’d decided to redecorate then got distracted midway through by the Wii, before dancing in the middle of the street whilst singing. It was quite the sight.
She’d evidently forgotten the embarrassment of that incident. She often did things without really thinking, even her new premises had been bought without looking anywhere else. It had always been up to Haresh to make important decisions, though Gita frequently ignored him regardless of what he decided.
She slurped her coffee loudly, admiring her handiwork. That morning alone she has re-prioritised her flowers, well half of them, repainted the shop front, danced to some really loud music, gone on a promotion drive around the nearby shops, and ordered herself some skis. It was marvellous, quite why she never drank this much coffee had escaped her.
Hmm, she thought, maybe I should get one of those coffee machines, then I could have my own coffee all day. She contemplated this, wondering where she’d find one, and if it would also make lemonade. These thoughts pretty much consumed her, so much so that she didn’t notice a customer asking her something.
Suddenly registering the voice, she snapped out of her thoughts. “Oh, hello my darling. And what can I do for you today?” She asked, pausing for only a second. “I’ve got loads of flowers you know, well you can probably see that, but can’t be too careful you know. Oh, I could give you a discount you know, it's three for two today. Can I get you a coffee while you browse? I’ve had three cups already today, it's so nice, I’d recommend it. There’s fertiliser too if you want any- newly released, it's a marvel it is. My daughter, Rani, often...”
“Oh, no, I don’t want to trouble you,” interrupted the woman, who was clearly American based on her accent. “I’m after a bouquet of flowers. It’s for an old friend of mine.”
“Oh, how lovely. I take it you’re on holiday here?” Gita asked, slightly calmer than before.
“Yes, yes, I am. A well earned break I thought, the network have me run ragged.”
“Network? Is that like a...spy agency, are you a spy? Oh my goodness, you are aren’t you? I’ve never met a spy before- I bet it’s all guns, cars and beating up bad guys,” declared Gita, her excitement rising again.
“No, nothing that exciting,” the woman laughed. “I’m a newsreader back in the States.”
“It's you isn’t it!” Gita exclaimed, “That one who does all those, erm, ooh, invasion and alien hoaxes stuff.”
“Yep, you got me,” she replied, holding her hands up as a sarcastic response.
“You’re Tricia Wells!”
“No, it’s Trinity,” she corrected her.
“What are you doing here, in Foxgrove? Is it the aliens again, are they coming back? I hope they don’t invade my shop again.”
“No, no aliens, just spending my holiday in an idyllic village,” Trinity explained, before pausing to properly register what Gita had said. “Why, have there been alien sightings here recently?”
“Hmm, aliens...no, no aliens round here,” Gita lied, she was rubbish at lying. Her voice always went weird, and she found herself flapping her hands about a lot. But she could be a wall of silence, or that's what she told Haresh. “But some of the flowers are very exotic, I brought them especially, bit expensive mind you, but it's just numbers on a page- would you like some? Ooh, would your friend like them?”
“No, no, that's okay,” she replied, putting away her notepad which she had reached for when aliens were mentioned. It had been a fascination of hers for all her life, not that the network appreciated it much, her monthly alien report had been dropped amidst falling ratings. “My friend isn’t really what I’d call green-fingered, it’s not her sort of thing. Just throw something together, plenty of colour. That's something I can never find at the mall, nice bouquets that someone has actually put effort into.”
“Ooh, well, these exotic flowers may do nicely, always remind me of the Carr-y-bian, it looks so lovely there- always wanted to go, but Haresh, that's my husband, doesn't like the heat or beaches that much. We don’t go away much at all, but Rani, our daughter, she’s off travelling the world at the minute. Boot-walking. Some lovely place she’s been too, makes me want to see the world a bit,” Gita divulged, waffling on as usual. One good thing about her having coffee, was that she could multi-task so much easier, so she was steadily creating a bouquet at the same time.
“I never really have much time for holidays. Always wanted to go travelling, see all the sights. Sometimes it's easy to forget how awesome the world can be.”
“Yep, the world out there is marvellous. It's like all those Dave Attenburgh documentaries, it's just so wonderful- he’s lucky to visit all them places, wish I could go and do that- in fact, I was saying to Haresh just the other day about how I could become a naturalist. You just hop on a plane, jet off to somewhere wondrous, and sit around watching animals all day- now that would be the best job out there. Do you watch his stuff? Oh, of course you do, it's like journalism in a way- listen to me waffle on, you know all this don’t you- I bet you’ve met him, haven’t you? What’s he like? Does he have lots of stories? I have a few myself you know, I could tell you loads I could,” expressed Gita, giddily, the caffeine really was getting to her now. She only paused momentarily, taking a big breath of air, before continuing. “Ooh, sorry my darling, I could waffle on for hours, I’ll go make your coffee now.”
“No, that's okay, I didn’t...ask for any,” she sighed, as the woman had already hurtled off to the back of the shop. In all her years, she’d never met someone who could talk as much as Gita Chandra. She felt sure that even politicians didn’t talk as much as Gita, even when they tried to dodge the questions asked of them.
Before that moment, Trinity had not really had a proper look around the shop, she’d merely glanced around. She loved the smell of all the flowers, the mixture of aromas filling the air, and mixed with the water, it was like petrichor. Despite not being a gardener, or even really having her own plants or flowers back home, she loved connecting with nature. Though, given her line of work, that very rarely happened.
As she ran her fingers through some of the flowers around the shop, Gita reappeared from the back carrying two cups of coffee. “Here you go, a nice cup of coffee.”
“Oh, thank you,” she replied instinctively, despite having never asked for said coffee.
“Ahh,” said Gita, taking a drink of hers. “Ah, right, yes, best get back to this bouquet- any particular flowers you want to add? Some pinks might be nice, or maybe some reds, ooh, perhaps purple- I think purple looks nice, wouldn’t you agree?”
“Hmm, yes, yes. Whatever you think looks nice,” she replied, checking the clock. She still had a bit of time, but she hoped Gita wouldn’t go into another long-winded talk.
“There you go my darling. All done, and finished off with some ribbon- I always loved putting ribbons in Rani’s hair, or around the house, or in the car- everything looks better with a bit of ribbon on it,” affirmed Gita, setting the bouquet down on the counter.
“Thanks very much, you’re a star, really you are,” Trinity stated.
“Would you like a handwritten note as well? I mean, I’m still practicing calli-goraphy, but, it's the thought that counts eh. That's what I always think anyway.”
“No, no, really that's okay. You’ve done a great job already,” she said, thankful to finally be paying. “How much are they?”
“Erm...well, it's five pounds for the exotic ones, add ten for the arranging, plus five for the extras and the coffee. So that’ll be twenty pounds.”
“Here you go,” she noted, handing over the money. “This English money is still hard to understand. Cents and dollars I can do no trouble.”
“Ooh, cents and dollars. They sound so trendy, I wish we could change ours to that, it sounds marvellous- I’d love to visit America some time, my Rani’s going there, or has she been there, I can never be sure these days- Hmm, I wonder what sorts of flowers I could find there, I bet there’s loads isn’t there my darling?” Gita asked, having veered off on one of her tangents again. Still, unlike normal, she was working the till at the same time, but her mouth was on overdrive.
“I presume so, flowers can be found almost everywhere,” she responded hesitantly, keen to find the right words to avoid the very much one-sided conversation from continuing.
“I’ll have a look on the inter-webs for some later, got to keep busy, that's what I always say,” noted Gita, handing over the receipt and some change.
“Thank you very much,” Trinity declared, relieved that the repeated monologues would finally be over. “You’ve got a wonderful little store here.”
“My, a celebrity likes my shop, how marvellous. Can I get a picture? I’ll frame it and put it up somewhere.”
“Sure, why not. Just be quick okay, don’t want to be late now.”
Gita ran through to the back of the shop again, arms flailing as she went. She shot back seconds later with a camera, and got Trinity to stand by the counter with her flowers. The camera flashed brightly, almost blindingly so, with Gita apologising profusely, telling her she was always fingers and thumbs with technology.
“Right, anyway, this has been lovely, but I really must go now. Don’t want to leave my friend waiting.”
“Ooh, yes. You go see your friend, be sure to tell them you brought flowers from here- Is it anyone I might know?”
Trinity had her hand on the door, but turned back briefly. “Sarah Jane Smith,” she said in response. “One of my old journalism friends.”
“I know Sarah!” Gita exclaimed excitedly.
“Jane,” she mumbled under her breath.
“She lives opposite me you know. Wonderful woman if I do say so- my Rani looks up to her, as an aspiring journalist herself. I could drive you there in my van my darling.”
“No, no. Really, that's okay,” she insisted, before adding, “I’ve got my hire car in the parking lot over the road anyway.”
And with that, she shot out the door, leaving Gita to her coffee induced madness. She strolled over the road, and headed off in her hired Prius to Sarah Jane’s house. Gita, meanwhile, started to sing loudly, goodness knows what the businesses on either side thought of her.
Bloomin' Lovely returns next week in The Hotline...