Did you miss the previous parts of this story?
Shelly called the number Ruth left in her voice message. It took Ruth five complete rings to answer. “This is Shelly. You left me a message?”
There was rustling sounds in the background at Ruth’s end. “Yes. Shelly, does anyone else know about the envelope being in your drawer?” A man asked if there was ice in the freezer.
“Did I catch you at a bad time, Ruth?”
“No — no worse than any other. Does anyone else know?” Shelly heard clanging.
“No, no one knows but me.” Shelly had more questions racing through her mind now than there had been earlier at work. How do I slip in these questions without her flipping out on me? She’s never mentioned a boyfriend at work. Sure it’s possible, but from the way she talks, she doesn’t have time for a social life.
“Shelly, can I trust you?”
“Can I trust you to keep this to yourself?”
Shelley wrinkled her brow. “Yes, Ruth. What do you want to tell me?”
Ruth sighed audibly and begins to tell her story. It was all because she had assumed she was receiving more from her grandmother’s estate. Before the money was sent to her, she had bought a condo and a new car thinking she’d find both easy to pay off with the trust fund she’d be getting. When she did start receiving the money, it was only enough to contribute to the cost of the condo. “I was a fool, Shelly. I can’t get rid of the car either. How would I get to work, the grocery store, wherever I need to go? This is not a town with a subway system, you know.”
Shelly agreed with her. “I like our town, Ruth, but public transportation isn’t one of its qualities.” She shifted her weight on the stool she was using at the peninsula that separated her kitchen and dining area.
Ruth continued with her saga. She did the sensible thing and started looking for a second job that would enable her to keep the car. “I looked into a couple of the fast-food places thinking I could work as the evening manager. I quickly dismissed this when I found out everyone has to start at the bottom. Minimum wage was not going to help me. I thought about doing some kind of work through the Internet. Shelly, with all my education, I’m not qualified for any of those positions.”
Shelly heard the same man as before but couldn’t make out what he was saying. Ruth interrupted her tale to say goodbye to whomever he was.
“Sorry about that. Uhmm… where was I? Oh… after realizing my limitations, I decided to give the newspaper a try. Under photography, there was a want ad for models. Believe it or not, I was qualified according to the specifics listed. And I got the job. They were willing to work around my schedule.”
Shelly’s eyes got as big a saucers. The only type of photographers she knew about who would work nights and not demand days were the ones into porno. Is Ruth really doing porn modeling?
Ruth had gotten the hint from the silence on the phone. “Shelly, this isn’t porno.” There’s still silence. “Shelly, I couldn’t ever do ultimate nude pictures despite the fact that I still wear a size four.”
Shelly finally spoke. “Ruth, what does this photographer do during the day?”
“He runs his studio. Listen, what I’m doing is a little shady. It’s in that gray area between right and wrong, okay?” No words coming from Shelly. “I’m a pin-up model.”
“Augh! So if you’re not nude, what are you wearing?”
“Sexy lingerie. And yes, some of it is so shear that I might as well be nude — but I’m not.” Silence. “And I get paid $260 under the table for three hours of posing.”
“The shootings are done here at my condo. The photographer just left. Can you keep my secret?”
Shelly pondered a moment before answering. “Sure, but why was the envelope of money in my desk drawer?”