Jessie sat staring at the ReJuv in her cup holder and sighed. She wanted to go to bed, not drink a potion. Work had been horrible. There’d been a bachelor party at the club. One of mankind’s worst inventions: bachelor parties. Just because one guy gets married his whole pack has to spend the night acting as stupid as possible to convince themselves that a marriage in their circle doesn’t mean that they’re adults or even civilized beings. Ordinarily, 20 or 30 idiots drinking too much and shouting for no reason would have fallen below the background insanity level of the club.
However, these Neanderthals were “important”. Or, at least, one of them was rich enough to reserve a private VIP room all night, open a no limit tab, and bring in dancers. Thus, as a VIP waitress Jessie spent the whole light shoving expensive champagne down their throats as fast as possible while getting pinched and propositioned.
They hadn’t cleared out until 45 minutes after close and, of course, the bouncers couldn’t toss them out because they’d spent so much money. There’d been a huge mess. Jessie remembered the ugly fluorescent lights coming on and revealing the spilled beer, spilled food, empty bottles, dirty dishes, and (this was a particularly nice touch) a big pool of vomit. She hadn’t seen anyone barfing, VIP or not, that would get you kicked, but when the lights came on there it was. She would have quit her job that instant if it were possible. Instead, she spent another two hours, working at her base hourly pay, cleaning up the mess with the other waitresses. It was nearly 6am when she left.
Then her other job called. Jessie also worked as a sales clerk at the small upscale boutique “Finer Things”. Two girls from the morning shift had called in sick, could she come in? Jessie might have been flattered if they had really wanted her. They didn’t. The morning shift manager, Nathan, didn’t even much like her since she’d rebuffed his advances a few months back. They called because they knew she would always come in. And, of course, she had to.
Since it took over an hour to get from the club to “Finer Things” she told her car to take her directly there instead of to her warm soft bed. It hadn’t always taken so long. That frustration was due to the new traffic measures. Her car, she was certain, could sustain 85 mph. However, it refused to do so until she got a break job, new tires, a full tune up, all new filters, and a carburetor overhaul to bring her emissions down into spec. If there had been a few hundred dollars free for that kind of work she wouldn’t need to haul her ass across town at such an obscene hour.
She needed her job to get money. She needed her car for her job, and she needed money for her car. Jessie tried not to see the situation as some sort of trap or conspiracy. She’d been raised to be more optimistic than that. Her mother would have called it bad luck, come up with some sort of plan for the car, then carried on. Then again, her mother was the reason there was no money.
Jessie’s eyes only clouded slightly when she thought of her mother, and she only got a little mad.
At this hour, sleep deprived and staring at an 8 hour shift, that was truly heroic. Cancer had taken her mother over a year ago. Cancer had started killing her mother 5 years ago. Liver cancer that spread out of the liver and lodged in the bones and lungs and other organs. There’d been doctors, pills, radiation, and other treatments that had only slowed its growth. Eventually, the only medically recognized treatments were “palliative”.
But her mother had been far too young to die, only a little past 40. So they’d kept fighting with other treatments that weren’t medically recognized, or as it turned out, effective. Spells could be cast directly on a patient. That was highly illegal for very good reasons. But they’d found an underground mage willing to risk it for the right price.
Her mother had sold her life insurance policy. That had been enough money for a “down payment”. Jessie had taken out a “loan” to pay for the remainder of the treatments from “some people” that the mage knew. It had to be Jessie taking the loan, the spells weren’t certain to work.
Jessie came home from college to be with her mother. Someone had to be there at the end. Her mother’s parents were deceased, and her father had never been good at “being there,” neither of them had heard from him in 10 years. Besides, the stress had already made Jessie fail her classes and lose her scholarship. Jessie had picked up some above board debt from that – student loans, and some living expenses she’d put on the credit card at the end when neither of them were good for anything. Even the spells didn’t work. Eventually, death took a woman and a mother that was far far too young to die, but that death also finally provided relief.
So now Jessie had a job she couldn’t quit, and another where she’d work any amount of overtime to stay ahead of her bill collectors.