1 Fading Zen

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"Thank you so much Betty!"

"Anytime Louis! I hope you know how much I appreciate you."

Louis grins, "How could I not? You have been my client since I started practicing! Nobody else has been around as long as you."

Betty picks up her purse and opens the front door. "You know it's only because I think you're cute!" Louis smiles fondly at the elderly woman. She reaches around for a hug that Louis returns because really, who can refuse a hug from Betty?

He yelps when he feels a pinch on his his bum, and then Betty snickers as she pulls away from Louis. "Now don't get into any trouble dear! And keep those boys and girls away from you. They cause more trouble than they're worth!" She walks down the steps of the spa and towards her car.

"You know you're the only one for me Betty!" Louis waves to her as she shuts her car door. She waves goodbye, then drives away. Louis closes the door to the spa and turns around facing his pride and joy.

Now then. Seven in the evening and he's the last one here, as always. Seems as if he'll be getting out of here at a decent hour for a Thursday. He looks around at the empty spa. All of the booths and rooms are cleared out and all of the lights still on. He grabs the till out of the register and walks to his office to set it on the desk with a light clattering noise from the coins. He picks up the laminated closing checklist out of habit; he could recite the whole thing backwards, but even after years, holding onto it makes him feel important.

He glances at the schedule for tomorrow on his computer. A couple of new clients, a sports team, one client coming in to get her eyelash extensions fixed (he would have to talk to Jannis about that tomorrow), and regulars were on the books for tomorrow.

He waves himself with the laminated paper in his hands and turns his attention away from the computer. His inspection starts every night with making sure all of the employees' booths were clean, tidy, and orderly.

He walks through each massage room to check that the masseuses' had cleaned up and turned off the mini water fountains, iPod stereos, rock heaters, and ambient lamps. The last room was the one he was most recently occupying with Betty. He sets down his checklist on the nightstand and changes the massage table linens. He hums to himself as he hauls them downstairs and heaves them into the once-brand-new washing machine with the rest of the towels and linens along with some soap that he never takes time to measure, and turns on the machine.

He opens up the refrigerator next to the washing machine, loving the cool air it blows on his face, crouches down and checks inventory on the soda and drink supply. He shoves his hand in and shuffles through the beverages.

Hmm.... 17 Sprites, 15 lemonades, 13 vitamin waters, 7 Smart waters, 12 Pepsis, 5 iced teas, and 1 Coke.

He opens the drawers to check his stock of pineapple Chobani yoghurts, pint sized Boom Chocolatta Ben and Jerry's ice creams, and emergency Blue Moons. He flicks the pen against his chin thinking he would have to pick up a couple more beers soon.

How long have those Sprites been there? Like a month now? And we just stocked up on the Coke on Mond-


Louis' hand jerks and knocks over a couple of cans on the rack.

The bloody hell was that? I locked the door and everyone is gone.

He shakes off the noise, pulls up the note app on his phone, and types in what he would have to pick up from the store. Along with the perks and pay of managing a spa and being a masseuse, he also was the one solely responsible for running the day-to-day operations. Which included tedious things like changing the broken light bulbs and keeping the drinks stocked.

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