"I'm closed!" I didn't look when the bell jingled on the front door. It was likely just Alma. Again. The 103-year-old woman could never keep track of her keys. Or her purse. Or her teeth. Locating another lost set of keys was not on my agenda for the evening, but saying no to Alma wasn't an option. What she lacked in size and strength, she made up for in attitude. The majority of my referrals were from Alma. If I denied her once, most of my clients would go with her. Finding lost keys wasn't very exciting, but it paid the bills. At least it would be quick and then I could go upstairs, get in my pj's, eat cold pizza, curl up with Jake and read the latest Declan Finn novel.
I inherited the building that served as both my home and office a few years past when the gentlemen I was renting from died. He had left me everything, which wasn't much beyond the building and a cabin at Spirit Lake. I sold the cabin and used the money to fix up the building and upgrade the outdated appliances. I didn't have much, but I didn't need much.
On the first floor, the front door opened into a hallway that led to two rooms. The larger of the two was my work room, where I entertained clients. The other was my closet sized office where I kept the records for my floundering locating service.
Nothing is too small to locate.
I could have more business if I had moved to a big city, like New York or Los Angeles, but I liked it in western Iowa. Leeds was quiet and within walking distance of everything I needed. Although, on occasion, I wished for a little excitement.
There were some things I couldn't locate no matter how hard I tried. It didn't stop people from asking though. I had little control over when my gift worked and when it didn't. I was ten when my gift first became apparent. The nuns who ran the orphanage had at first thought I was possessed and tried to get the local priest to do an exorcism. Father Andrew was kind and saw my ability for what it was, a gift. He convinced the nuns that I needed protection from those who would abuse my gift. So, for the next eight years I was kept cloistered in a monastery, using my gift on rare occasions for the Church. The decision to use or not use my gift was left up entirely to me. I never refused, considering the Church and the nuns had done so much for me. Everyone had expected that I would eventually join the ranks of the nuns, but my heart was elsewhere. I was never a very good Catholic, even though the nuns tried.
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