And to continue the story, if you missed the beginning go back to Chapter One, two Saturdays ago.
“The girls loved dinner last night, and you were the perfect waiter and dishwasher.”
Gary just waved at her absently.
“You look awful.”
Gary just nodded and stared at the box on the counter.
“Have you been up all night with this thing?”
He looked up at her, only until 3 or 4, then I crashed, I came down here a few minutes ago.
It was then Sharon noted that he was wearing the same clothes as yesterday and he had not shaved. This was a Gary she had not seen before, usually he was neat as a pin, with a fresh and seemingly starched button down collar, but now his shirt tails were un tucked, and he was wearing a plain black t-shirt underneath his shirt which was unbuttoned fully. In front of him on the counter was the box, and it had a few more pieces moved around then before, but she could tell the core had still not been breached, holding the mysterious object that continued to rattle around inside of it.
She began to get the shop ready to open up, she ran the vacuum which was something she usually did at the end of the day, but they had closed up early last night and the whole schedule was off. Gary had moved to the large sorting table with the mismatched chairs surrounding it. Sharon continued to get the shop ready but occasionally looked over to her boss who was turning and poking at the puzzle box with a steady determination. She went through the checklist in her head of all the stuff to make the store ready for the business day, she was confident everything was done. She unlocked the front door a few minutes before 10.
She liked working at the store, she did not go home smelling like baked beans, which was a plus, the hours were easy, she got to read comic books, granted a few of the regular customers were a bit weird, but what adult comic book reader was not. Heck she even considered herself a bit weird, heck from her family it was a given. She missed her family, she was the ‘baby’ of the family, but it was not a burden to her, more like a blessing everyone in the family seemed to be able to teach her something different, and with six older siblings there was a lot to learn. The family was very relaxed about things, her father liked to tell everyone to keep everything in perspective, if no one was trying to chop off your head you did not accidentally electrocute yourself you were having a pretty decent day.
Sharon looked over at her boss, who had now put his feet up on one of the chairs and had the puzzle sitting on his chest. He was kinda cute, a little uptight, and a little angry but he was cute. A few inches taller than her, short dark hair, nice eyes and her roommates thought he was cute as well. She looked over at him, too bad about his Dad. Sharon had no way to understand how he felt, her Dad came home every night, and on the few nights he came home late after a particularly long enterprise he always came and checked in on her. She smiled at that thought. Enough nostalgia, she chastised herself, time to get to work, she opened the cash register and started counting out the change.
Sharon looked at Gary a half hour later, he was asleep with the box sitting on his chest, she let him sleep and made hand lettered sign on the door that said “ssshhhh”.
The day passed quickly, she skipped her class, it supposed to be on a lecture of a book she had read it high school for fun and she would get the notes from someone in class. It was after three o’clock before Gary woke up and when he did he woke with a start. Sharon was across the table from him reading when he finally came back to consciousness. He stared at her, looked around and took the puzzle box off his chest and placed it on the table. He moved his mouth as if to restore it to working order and Sharon slid her bottle of water across the table to him and he took it and downed half the bottle.
“What time is it?” Gary asked rhetorically looking at his watch. “Have been asleep for five hours?”
“Yep, we had fifteen customers, and made $120.00 in sales, and I made change for three parking meters as well, but I did not count them as customers in my total.”
“Wow, we were busy.” He put his feet on the floor. “Oooh, ooh, my legs are asleep.” He said and began to rub his legs. He looked over at Sharon. “I thought you had a class at two?”
“I will get the notes later, and I read the book a couple of years ago.” Sharon said waving her hand as if to say no big deal.
“Thanks for taking care of everything for me.” Gary took another swig of water. “Stupid puzzle.” He threw the now empty water bottle at it, and both the puzzle and the bottle fell off the table.
Sharon reached down and picked both of them up, that is when she saw it. “Uh Gary, it is open.”
She showed him the final central box had slide open and she saw something metallic glinting from inside it, she handed it over gently to him. Gary turned the box over and then slid a portion of it, and a large brass key fell on the table.