The winning lotto number back in February 2001 was 5-14-41-11-20-51-1-12-58.
It was the number that would transform Dusty Callahan’s life from the overworked, underpaid and…to her way of thinking…degrading life of servitude and elevate her to the ranks of the pampered and privileged.
Who could possibly deserve it more? She had thought when the news came.
Then she fainted.
One hundred and twenty four million bucks! A serendipitous twist of fate…the luck of the draw made her a very rich lady…on the very day of her long lost daughter’s birthday.
The numbers she picked had been her birthday, her man, Kirk Munsey’s and the birthday of her only daughter…the daughter she had given up for adoption the day she was born…forty three years ago.
She had wondered about her child each and every day since February 12, 1958. She had hoped and prayed that one day her daughter would find her. It had never happened. Dusty had finally concluded that the adoptive parents had probably decided to conceal the fact that her daughter had been adopted…to pretend that the girl was their natural child…stealing the child away from her, forever.
Or perhaps the child was angry with her.
She’d probably never find out one-way or another, anyway.
She sighed and picked up her Mister Clean spray bottle, spritzed and wiped clean some spilt coffee from the Formica counter of her kitchen.
Despite the fact that she’s never had a job better than the one she had until recently—a sales clerk in a fancy, dancy Rodeo Drive boutique—she had been surrounded by snooty, rich people all her life. She set the spray bottle down and picked up her cup of coffee.
Dusty leaned against the refrigerator and took the first, precious morning sip from the lovely, china cup of her recently purchased Wedgewood service for twelve. She placed it gently back down on the counter and removed the blue silk scarf from her hair.
Long, ash-blonde ringlets cascaded past her shoulders to their full length, reaching her still narrow waistline. She shook her hair out to its full volume, her long graceful fingers deftly unravelling a couple of tangled strands. She reached past her coffee cup and began to pick through the stack of mail.
Although Dusty Callahan was a tall, slim and attractive woman, she had the kind of shapely but thick, muscular legs of a woman who had made her living standing on her feet for most of her life.
But no more of that anymore! She would from now on sit down and let everyone stand on their feet for her!
No more retail puppet masters for Dusty Callahan!
She took her mail and coffee into the living room. It was a nice room, containing everything she needed for the lifestyle she had had before hitting the jackpot. It was comfortable, with some tasteful touches that she learned from her department store days.
Some of her girlfriends had told her over the years that she had fabulous taste…that she should have been born rich. Well…now she was! Her life was about to change…big time! Dusty sat down on her Kelly green, velvet couch and leaned over to place her cup and mail on the glass and chrome coffee table.
She leaned back, crossed her legs at the ankles, as Madame Bozell had taught her. She had had, since childhood, the backward way of getting comfortable in a chair and plopping her feet up on the table in front of her as a sign of comfort.
Madame Bozell had noticed this habit during their first session on ‘Elegance and Deportment.’ Madame Arthuretta Bozell had said that habits developed at home during one’s humble past, if unaware, generally found their way into the arena of public scrutiny and one didn’t want those things to surface when one desired to change and elevate one’s station in life.
Dusty Callahan had agreed. Of course.
She had found that Madame Arthuretta Bozell’s service had been exactly what she required for the new life she had intended to create for herself.
Dusty reflected on her past life of serving the demands of the muckity mucks. She had worked in fancy hotels, cleaning up after rich people when she was a young girl when she should have been graduating from High School. She had gotten her cosmetology license and worked on rich people’s heads in fancy beauty salons. She had hated the work. At the salons, everybody wanted to look like everybody else…but different. It had been frustrating and she had quickly become tired of listening to their whining stories about their boring little rich lives. Actually, their lives weren’t boring at all, she had covetously concluded. She had had her fill of listening to their tales of trips she could never take to places she’d never even heard of.
They had insisted on confiding in her about their love lives with handsome, big shot, wealthy men. Their reports of private jets and chauffeur driven cars, ski trips, expensive fund raising shindigs, Spanish-speaking maids and Oriental gardeners and all, constantly reminded her of how boring her little working class life was.
She left the hairdressing business to work in chic, rich peoples’ department stores and boutiques, selling everything from fancy china and crystal to designer dresses and furs.
Despite working around all the snobbish rich people she always derived tremendous enjoyment from working in swanky places around beautiful high quality things. She stayed at the boutique she had been working at last because she liked getting paid commissions.
She never applied for any higher level jobs because she never wanted to take the risk that people might find out that she didn’t have her high school diploma. No one had ever offered her a promotion either, in all those years. She would come home exhausted and unfulfilled from a long day’s work and look in the mirror and wonder. I
n what way had she been different than those bimbos who had been chosen by men who offered them the leisure of shopping in the middle of the day at the kind of places where she worked? She knew that she had always been an attractive, naturally blond-haired woman with large friendly blue eyes that…she’d been often told by admirers…were the shade of color of a robin’s egg.
Rich men had never shown any interest in her.
None were ever curious about neither her outgoing personality nor the soft peach-colored flesh of her voluptuous body. She had often heard that in order to land a rich man that a woman would have to act dumb as to not threaten them. Well, although Dusty Callahan would never act dumb for anyone or for anything, she certainly knew that she had no credentials that would frighten any man away.
She felt that she had the undemanding personality that could easily fit into the life of the wealthiest man. Yet, that type had never even looked at her. She had worked hard and for her fiftieth birthday she bought her own home. No one had ever come to buy one for her, she’d thought, grabbing the sterling silver spoon from her saucer and stirring angrily.
Buying this ranch style house for herself had been her greatest achievement.
None of that mattered anymore; she smiled to herself, looking through her mail. “There you are, little devil!” she said aloud as the envelope from the Department of Birth Records fell out of the stack and floated to the floor.
Born in my station of life, in that little Nevada desert town, she reflected, there was only just one little inadequate schoolhouse and certainly no Women’s Liberation. A girl got pregnant before she even finished high school in Desertville, Nevada. She either got married to the local boy or he cut out on her. Her local boy had cut out, never to be seen or heard from again. Which, in its own silly way, had worked out fine.
A girl couldn’t stay in that one-horse town with an illegitimate child. So she bought a ticket, got on a bus and moved to L.A. Her only deeply sad regret was that she was unable to raise her daughter. Back in those days a single woman just didn’t do that. She clutched the envelope from the floor and started to open it when her phone rang. She walked over to the credenza to answer. She sat down in the neighboring arm chair and said,
“Callahan residence… Oh…hi Kirk. No…stop it…” she girlishly giggled into the phone, “No…I’m not putting on any airs. That’s how you’re supposed to answer the phone, honey.” Her face hardened with annoyance as he spoke.
“Look, Kirk Munsey…I will talk to you later. I have things to do. Good bye!” She slammed down the phone. She couldn’t, for the life of her, imagine why Kirk was backing out of their plans.
They had split the winnings fifty/fifty. They had made plans to move to the South of France together. Now he’s talking about backing out. How stupid can you get? He couldn’t possibly be thinking that he would stay here in L.A. Winning all that money that they had won behoved him to leave the Fire Department.
All of his friends turned cold on him, just as hers had. What reason could he have for staying on in smoggy Los Angeles? He’s got to be kidding…why on earth would he be talking about buying a house in Beverly Hills! Her face had been splashed over television and news magazines. She didn’t want every sucker in America coming after her money.
How on earth does a lottery winner hide out in Beverly Hills, anyway? She had thought.
She jumped up from her chair and began to pace the room, tapping the envelope on her hand.
They had planned they’d move to France and get married. She and Kirk had been going together…dating…for years, because she had been afraid of getting married again after two brief failures and a couple of live-together disasters. She hadn’t wanted to get married to some man who seemed like the dream boat of life and then after a time turned into a monster who would ruin her life and drink away her hard-earned home.
Dusty loved men, but the ones that she had been with, hardly lived up to her expectations in a practical way.
Her problem, also, was that she just loved those blue-collar men. But then, who else had she ever dated, anyway?
Of all of them, though, she loved those firemen. Not only did they make good money, but they were so heroic and romantic as well. The way they called you ‘L’il lady’ and lifted you in their strong arms and swept you off your feet as if you were as light as a feather, just always took her breath away.
It made her want to open the cage and let the bird fly free, as she liked to say.
They all drank too much, though.
Except Kirk. He only drank on weekends.
Suddenly her face flushed with embarrassment. She stopped dead in her tracks from pacing back and forth when she realized that she mostly saw Kirk on weekends!
She fanned her hands at the phone and thought, I’ll think about Kirk and his
Dusty Callahan had things to do.
Looking at the envelope in her hand, she walked over to sit back on the sofa to open it.
Dusty had never seen her birth certificate. Her mother had never given her a copy before she died. When she and her brother, George, had gone through the papers, neither of them found birth certificates of any kind.
Not that a birth certificate was ever of any importance, anyway. What woman needed authentic documentation of her birth year? She giggled at the fact that she’d gotten away with her claim to be ten years younger than she actually really was for over two decades.
Her mother never did too well in life either, working at that dog food plant on and off for over thirty years. She wished that her mother was still alive so she could be here to share some of this money.
Who knew where her father had gone. He had disappeared somewhere around her eighth birthday.
At least Dusty’s life, despite everything, had been a lot prettier than her mother’s…moving away toCaliforniawhere there were more opportunities for girls like herself.
A chill shot through her, causing her to clutch her house coat snugly around her body as she stared at the envelope.
Her plans to move to the South of France behoved her to get a hold of this document in order to get a passport.
Dusty had never been anywhere outside of the United States, except for Hawaii, once.
That was really just the United States, anyway, she thought as she opened the envelope and began to read:
I Hereby Certify That the Attached is a True Copy of A
Record on File in the Division of Vital Records
Heath Department, Town of Desertville
Place of Birth: Desertville
Full name of Child: Baby Girl Montgomery
Date of Birth: May 14, 1941
“What?” Dusty shot up from her seat. “They sent me someone else’s birth papers! What idiots! Such incompetents! Just wasting my time!”
As she started to throw the paper on the floor her eyes caught her mother’s
Mother’s Name: Wilma Jean Smith
“Momma’s maiden name!”
Age of Mother at Last Birthday: 15
Father’s Name: Timothy Montgomery
Age of Father at Last Birthday: 40
“Who on earth is Timothy Montgomery? What is this nonsense anyway? My daddy’s name was Burt Callahan. My name is Dusty Marie Callahan. Not baby girl Montgomery!” she hissed out loud to herself.
She was profoundly confused by a family history that had just exploded in her face!
Why would some 40-year-old Tim Montgomery be going with a 15-yearold girl, anyway? Her momma’s daddy should have shot and killed him, she thought to herself.
Maybe he had, she laughed. Maybe that’s why she’d never heard of the man.
What was she going to do with this information? How was she going to get a passport now?
Hell…she was now a millionairess! Her money would be able to fix anything!
Dusty Callahan didn’t have time for this foolishness right now. She had things to do. Like her one o’clock appointment with Madame Arthuretta Bozell.
She walked over to her magazine rack to retrieve her guide book, Madame Bozell’s Guide to Elegant and Proper Behavior and Presentation.
This book was part of her lifestyle makeover package that she was spending a pretty penny
for…uhmm…for which she was spending a pretty penny.
She was on chapter 3:
Entering a Room: Professionally or Socially.
Nobody ever taught things like this in Desertville. You just went to work
and hung out with your friends at a tavern.
She sat down on her sofa and began to read…her index finger tracing the
words, line for line.
Upon entering a room, whether it is a social or professional situation, greet everyone (even if it is only one person) by saying good morning, good afternoon, or good evening; depending on the time of day. If people are already engaged in a conversation, say, “excuse me, if I may, I would like to speak with you,” to the person to whom you would like to address.
Proper behavior requires that you acknowledge the humanity of other individuals. An exchange of greetings is essential to creating a gracious first impression in addition to increasing the probability of a congenial exchange between parties. A pleasant, natural smile helps, as well.
Dusty cleared her throat and closed the book, for the time being. She had to get ready for her appointment, and also search for that thesaurus book that Madame Bozell, included in her package.
She had to look up the word congenial.
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