Wes is our first-call shopsitter. He watches the store at least once a week, so that Jack can pre-record his radio programs in Johnson City (Celtic Clanjamphry, available Sundays at 9 pm on wets.org if you’re not within listening distance) or work on home improvements, perhaps even a weekend getaway for us here and there.
Wes and his lovely wife Rachael were the first couple to get married at our bookstore. Valkyttie attended the ceremony, and blessed the union by napping on their marriage certificate during the vow exchange.
They’ve been with the firm practically since the beginning. Wes bottle-fed several of our sick foster kittens, while Alexander, their 22-pound gentle giant, was one of the bookstore’s earliest fur babies.
As Wes won’t take a dime for minding the shop, we have a standing arrangement regarding birthday and Christmas presents. They take what they want from the shelves (including new books, consignment crafts, whatever) and we hand it over with gratitude.
This Christmas sorta snuck up on us all, so it was Dec. 1 before Wes and Rachael came to dinner with a list that ran heavily to handcrafted items. In short order I found myself promising to crochet four spay-and-neuter afghans, three Dr. Who scarves, an American flag quilt, a wreath and a potted houseplant.
By Dec. 12, I had congratulated myself on knocking out the afghans while binge-watching Seasons 1-3 of Law and Order on Netflix. On Dec. 16 I was swinging onto the last of the scarves and knew with certainty that assistant DA Claire Kincaid wore only five blouses the whole of seasons 4 and 5. The new Lieutenant had but two work jackets.
A message came from Rachael; nix the crocheted houseplant and do an “elegant” scarf in Christmas colors. That gave me a leap forward. Dec. 20, the night before Jack and I were leaving on our week-long hideaway vacation, I was seven rows from finishing the last flag and really sick of Jack McCoy’s know-it-all attitude.
My own Jack made a heroic trip to Walmart (a place we normally avoid, but desperate times call for desperate measures) at 5 pm on the last shopping Saturday before Christmas, returning ashen-faced with white felt from which he cut a circle of 13 stars–after a steadying whiskey, of course. That took some pressure off. Sunday morning I whipped out the final rows on the final project and slapped a heating pad onto my right shoulder. If anyone at the Christmas service noticed my hunchback ensemble, they didn’t comment.