Bex could here them talking at work. More about Oliver. Less about Betty.
"How long has he been here?"
"More years than we want to count. He was seventeen wasn't it. Maybe sixteen when he started. It was community service, you know. It started out that way. Damn, community service. Shelving. Yeah, thats how it all started."
"What did he steal, anyway?"
"Something at the grocery store. I think it was cough syrup."
"No, it was something you could get high on."
"You can get high on cough syrup."
Bex had had enough. This wasn't right. Putting Oliver down. "He's never stole one thing since being here. Not one thing." She spoke up. "And he always writes down the date really big so all those senior citizens know when their books or due. They'd never know with that little print on the receipt, otherwise."
"I guess you're right. He's what, twenty-one now? Guess he learned his lesson." Dottie the woman who made covering books an art form, stopped talking about him then.
Betty looked at them as if she knew all. What was really happening. It was over as far as she was concerned when it came to Oliver.
"He just quit," Betty was smiling as if it were a done deal.
Bex stared at her, gritting her teeth. A bit of her felt shattered. What if it were true? He just quit? Would Oliver have done that?
Bex bit her bottom lip. She didn't want anymore trouble. She knew she should fight back, but it wouldn't help. Not right now. Bex felt like slipping into the restroom and wrapping herself around the commode for a good throw up. She knew it wouldn't help. Maybe it was the best she could do for Oliver right now. It was making her sick.
She'd hated that she'd left him, but it was her first class in math (the dreaded math class she didn't want to take, but feared she'd have to take it every year until she graduated college) and she hated not to go. She was wrong. She should have forgotten everything but Oliver. Only her stomach was rumbling then and she'd eaten something in the car from MacDonald's on the dollar menu as soon as she left his place. It was the first thing she'd had eaten yesterday. So much was going on. She left Oliver messages on his cell phone, but he'd shut it off. She couldn't get through.
By the time the class was over, she went home to find Dayton already snoozing in bed. Which was a good thing. She'd slept on the couch, just hugging a pillow. He'd locked her out of the bedroom, accidentally. She didn't even know the bedroom had a lock. And she wasn't going to dare wake him. Then when he'd left early that morning for work, she crawled into bed and slept soundly for most of the morning. She hadn't really thought about how Oliver might be doing until she awoke. And even then, he still wasn't picking up.
Just then she saw someone from City in Betty's office. There was even a police officer. Were they doing what Bex thought they were doing? She couldn't believe it. They were escorting Betty off the premises.
Bex couldn't help but smile. She didn't listen to anymore of the grumblings. She went back to her boxes to unpack and label books. Suddenly, she had more energy than she ever imagined. Before she knew it, it was two in the afternoon. And there was Oliver.
He had a patch over his right eye. His dark blond hair was smoothed back in a ponytail. He wore a black vest open over his white puffy shirt with the black trousers. Black leather shoes. There was just something swashbuckling about the outfit.
"I feel like a pirate today," he smiled to her. "I think it should be pirate day, don't you?"
"Is this your way of mutiny?" She kept staring at the black patch. "What happened?"
Next someone told him he was an hour late.
"Well, I was feeling sort of under the weather, but I finally ate something from Jimmy Johns," Oliver said, rubbing his eye under the patch. Bex noticed the black eye then.
"Jesus, Oliver," Bex frowned with a bit of disgust. "Should you be here?" She hadn't remembered the black eye from yesterday.
"I'm fine." He kept grinning like he knew what he was doing. But what if he didn't, she wondered.
"You have to tell me everything at break," Bex wouldn't move to close. She was still in her corner.
Oliver nodded. He was needed out front.