by Laura Stamps
“Pamela,” Mr. Phelps says, pointing to my neck, “what’s that?”
I check to see if the extra napkin I gave him is in his lap where it’s supposed to be.
A messy eater, he tends to drop food on the floor.
“My Miraculous Medal,” I say. “It’s Catholic.”
He lifts another slice of pizza from the pan, his fourth tonight. “Something that small can’t be miraculous,” he says, studying my necklace.
“It’s a child’s medal,” I say. “A confirmation gift when I was nine.”
Pepperoni falls from his pizza to the napkin on his lap. “I don’t believe in miracles,” he says. “Neither should you.”
I’m old Mr. Phelps’ paid companion. I cook, clean, shop, garden, and listen to all his medical complaints and worries. Actually, he’s not that old. He acts like he’s ninety, but he’s only sixty-five. A hypochondriac, he thinks he’s dying from a terminal illness. He’s not.
The next day, I go to the local Catholic shop to buy a novena book for a friend.
While I’m waiting in line to pay for my purchase, the woman behind me asks if I know anything about rosaries. I do and help her make a selection.
When I reach the cash register, the owner says, “Pamela, I’ve been watching you. You’re always helping my customers. I need someone like you. Come work for me.”
I place the novena book on the counter. “I already have a job,” I say.
“How much do you make?” the owner asks.
I tell her, and she offers the same salary.
“Are you interested now?” the owner asks. The sweatshirt she’s wearing today is one of my favorites. It features a beautiful painting of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
“I believe in miracles,” I say, sliding my credit card through the machine.
“Of course, you do,” the owner says, “you’re Catholic.”
I look at her sweatshirt again. Our Lady is smiling.
“Yes,” I say. “I’m interested.”
Laura Stamps is the author of several novels, short story collections, and poetry books, including It’s All About The Ride: Cat Mania (Alien Buddha Press), The Year Of The Cat (Artemesia Publishing), and In The Garden (The Moon). Winner of the Muses Prize, Recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. Mom of 5 cats.