Dotty scrambled around her small single apartment looking for her waitress uniform. It was a horribly sexist dress fashioned after a bad sexy milkmaid costume found in pop-up Halloween shops. With blue and white gingham and a puffy skirt that was much too short, Dotty always felt like a fool wearing it.
As usual, she was running late and the reason she was always running late was that she really hated her waitress job. The restaurant was fine, the food okay, but the owner Marvin was a creepy little perv (Hence the sexy milkmaid uniform.) that made every hour of her shift completely insufferable. More than anything, Dotty dreamt of the day she could quit her job, but then how would she ever pay for this run down, crappy apartment in this run down, crappy neighborhood?
Dotty found the uniform at the bottom of a heap of dirty clothes. She pulled it over her head at looked at herself in the mirror. Was this really her life? She took in her reflection and realized, yes it was. Her boobs were smooshed up and out by the tightness of the milkmaid bib on the milkmaid dress. She wore the thigh-high socks that were a pervy mandatory part of this whole pervy ensemble. As Dotty slipped her feet into the sky-high heels which were also mandatory, she told herself something had to give and it had to give soon.
The sound of her dog, Ozzy whimpering pulled Dotty's attention away from the mirror. She looked at her beloved pit bull and shrugged. "I know," she said, "but what are you going to do? Someone has to pay the rent around here and you sure aren't doing much to pitch in."
Ozzy covered his face with his paws as if he were embarrassed by his lack of income earnings. If Dotty didn't know better, she could swear Ozzy understood everything she said. As she reached down and rubbed his head she thought her life wasn't all bad. At least she had love and wasn't that the most important thing to have? The two greatest loves of Dotty's life were Ozzy her dog and Randy her boyfriend. Yes, in that order.
There was one more humiliating aspect of Dotty's uniform, the blond wig that hung with two long braids. Dotty pulled the "Heidi" wig over her already naturally blond hair. She had asked Marvin, since she was already blond, if she could simply braid her hair, but of course this was absolutely out of the question because Dotty had colored the tips of her natural hair purple. She thought it was fun, but God forbid sexy Heidi not have completely snow-white hair from root to end. She looked ridiculous. Even Ozzy seemed embarrassed for her. She turned once more to take in her reflection.
At twenty-three, Dotty wasn't what qualified as beautiful by Los Angeles standards. She was too natural for that. Amongst the bevy of models and actresses, Dotty slipped into the background. She wasn't super tall, or teeny-tiny and she didn't have hipbones sticking out. Her cheeks were not razor sharp and her lips were not "bee-stung" with injections of collagen. She didn't wear piles of makeup, false eyelashes or hair extensions. Dotty was what most would describe as a mid-western girl. She was healthy, pretty, and the worst thing you could be in Los Angeles, normal.
Dotty didn't mind not being at the center of attention. That was Randy's job. He was the musician. He was also her high-school sweetheart and the reason she had moved away from Kansas. Randy had always been too big for their small town and when he decided that it was time to make his mark on the world, Dotty had wished him well and told him she understood.
They had stayed in touch and two years into his adventure he had called her up and begged her to join him. She had never gotten over her first love, so Dotty packed a suitcase, piled Ozzy into her car and drove California, but the day she arrived Randy gave her the bad news that his roommates were refusing to let another person move in. Dotty sold her car and took the first apartment she could afford. Too bad it didn't allow pets. For six months she'd been hiding her seventy-five pound pit bull from the landlady.
Randy promised over and over that it was only temporary and now that she was here he was certain his career would take off. He told her often that she was his muse and without her he had not been able to write new songs. Dotty took over managing Randy's career and worked tirelessly trying to book him gigs at the local bars and clubs so that he would have more time to write songs and record YouTube videos which were supposed to build his fan base. Unfortunately, Los Angeles was swimming with a million other Randy's and after two and a half years of living in Los Angeles, Randy had barely made a dent in his big dream of making his mark. His most popular YouTube video had been viewed only seventy-eight times with one comment from MusicLover3853 that read: You suck! Something would have to give soon. Dotty didn't come all the way to California to sling hash in a dive coffee shop dressed as a slutty milkmaid. She came to here to build a life with the man she loved.
Ozzy approached Dotty with his leash in his mouth and dropped it at her feet. He was much better with time and did his best to keep Dotty on schedule.
"Okay, okay," she said while picking up the leash and clicking it to his collar.
Cracking open the door just a few inches, Dotty looked up and down the hallway to check if the coast was clear. It was the same routine every morning.
The main door of the building was open and Dotty could see Mrs. Mintch sweeping the front steps. She topped her sweeping for a moment to pick up a large grey and white cat. "Good morning Mr. Whizzles. Did you have a good night? That's my sweet boy. I bet you're hungry, aren't you?"
If it wasn't for that cat, Dotty would swear Mrs. Mintch was made of stone. It was the only thing the old hag showed any kindness towards. The mean ol' alley cat and Mrs. Mintch were two peas in a pod. They were each hissy, scrappy and not afraid to take a swipe at anyone within reach.
When Mrs. Mintch set the cat down and returned to her sweeping, Dotty seized the opportunity and snuck Ozzy out the back door of the building. They went on their normal morning walk and then Dotty snuck Ozzy back into her tiny apartment. She unhooked his leach and rubbed him behind the ears. "I promise it won't be much longer. If things go as planned, I'll get us a place with a yard. Okay? Now remember." She put a finger up to her lips and whispered, "Shhhhhhhh."
Dotty closed the door with a heavy heart. She hated that Ozzy was stuck inside while she was at work. Back home in Kansas he had a huge plot of land to run around on. Her Aunt and Uncle's farm had been the only home Ozzy had known until now. It wasn't fair for him be locked up in an apartment. Dotty tried not to be resentful towards Randy for not being honest about the living situation, but each time she looked into Ozzy's sweet face it became more difficult.
"Good morning, Mrs. Mintch." Dotty said trying to sound cheerful despite how she was feeling.
"Today's the fifth." Mrs. Mintch scowled in return.
"I know. I'm working on it. On my way to work right now."
Mrs. Mintch pinched her face as she gave Dotty the once over from head to toe. She grunted, "I can't imagine what kind of place you must work at to go out dressed up like…"
"Okay, bye Mrs. Mintch," Dotty said as she scurried off down the street to make the bus. She had figured out very early on that the best way to deal with Mrs. Mintch was to not deal with her.
The bus stop was three blocks away. Dotty ran for most of it. Partly because she was running late and mostly because if she ran it gave the men passing by less of a chance to catcall or try and stop her for her number. Dotty could have changed into her uniform at work, but she had a very big suspicion that Marvin probably had peepholes drilled into the walls and would rather take her chances with random strangers on the street. Besides, this was Hollywood. No one batted an eye at someone dressed in a ridiculous costume.
Within forty minutes, Dotty was working her shift at Gayle's Diner. The restaurant was named after Marvin's mother who for fifty years had held court in the kitchen turning out her home-style comfort food. It was only after the original Gayle passed away and her son took over the business did the creepy uniforms get introduced. Dotty had never met Mama Gayle, as regulars lovingly referred to her, but pictures of her hung in various places around the diner as a reminder of better times.
Dotty wound her way around tables, her arms loaded down with plates over flowing with crowd favorites, an open faced turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes smothered in butter, The Rueben with crunchy twice fried onion rings, The French Dip with crispy fries, and for the hipsters who wanted to be seen in a Hollywood landmark but didn't want to actually eat fattening food, the wedge salad, hold the bacon, and the blue cheese.
Stopping at a four-top Dotty unloaded the plates of food and quickly rushed off to put a new order in the kitchen. As soon as she walked away the people at the table all exchanged their plates giving each other the correct order. No one ever said Dotty was a great waitress, but she smiled a lot, was warm and friendly and had great legs. That was good enough for Marvin.
Approaching the window Dotty slipped the hand written ticket onto the silver order wheel and called out, "Adam and Eve on a raft, two burgers; make one cry, leave one high and dry." She then put a dry lettuce wedge and a slice of lemon on a plate for a very famous actress who was a regular customer. Dotty had recently read in an online article where the actress claimed she never worked out and had a naturally high metabolism. She said her favorite foods were chili cheese fries and peanut butter cups, but Dotty had never served the girl anything but an iceberg lettuce wedge with a slice of lemon and a glass of water with no ice.
Just then Marjorie another waitress in her forties and Dotty's only friend in Los Angeles approached. "I can't believe that son of a bitch. I told Marvin three times I couldn't work on Friday and what does he do?"
"Scheduled you for Friday," Dotty replied.
It was bad enough for a twenty-three year old to wear a slutty Heidi milk maiden uniform, it was just downright sad seeing Marjorie, a middle aged mother of two teetering around in high heels trying to keep what little remained of her dignity. Dotty tried to help Marjorie out as much as she could. Offering to cover shifts, or babysitting for free. The babysitting worked out for both of them. Dotty would sneak Ozzy out of her apartment building and they would go over to Marjorie's house for the day. The kids loved Ozzy and would play with him for hours in the backyard.
Dotty and Marjorie saw Marvin coming their way and they both turned quickly pressing themselves up against the back counter to give him plenty of room to pass. It was the first thing every new waitress learned. Make plenty of room, or else Marvin would press up against you when passing in tight quarters.
As he walked by he muttered, "Let's not dawdle, ladies."
Dotty watched him return to the front of the restaurant as a disgusted shiver ran down her spine. He was a waif of a man, in his mid-fifties with a greasy comb over covering his bald head. "I can't wait for the day I can take this uniform off and throw it at him," she said."
"He's such a perv, you'd probably make his day. The only reason he ordered these is so that he can look at our legs." Marjorie added.
Sure enough they both looked over at Marvin and caught him staring at their legs. He saw that he was busted and averted his eyes.
"Will you cover for me for a minute?" Dotty asked. "I'm really close to getting McGinty's to let Randy play a show. I just have to call them real quick."
"Oh Honey, that's terrific. I'm so proud of you." Marjorie beamed.
"I didn't pay my cell phone bill, so I'm going to sneak into the office. Watch my back, okay?"
"You got it."
Marvin climbed down from the stool behind the register and made his way back behind the counter. The girls once again pressed themselves as far away as possible. "Come on ladies, let's move it," he snapped. "Dotty only give one lemon-wedge not two. We're not running a buffet."
When the slimy little man was out of earshot, Dotty sighed and said, "If other people can make their dreams come true, why can't I?
A few minutes later after checking that Marvin wasn't watching, Dotty snuck into his office and dialed the number for the McGinty's. She had been emailing the manager for weeks and finally he responded that he would listen to Randy's music. Dotty had sent the man a CD and he had emailed her back that they should speak on the phone. This was it. Everyone knew that if you wanted to get noticed by the record industry, McGinty's was the place you needed to play.
Dotty held her breath while the man spoke and then couldn't contain her joy when he said there would be a spot open in three weeks. Granted it was on a Tuesday and six o'clock, but at least it was a start. "You won't be disappointed. Randy's going to be a huge star one day and I'm not just saying that because I'm his manager," she gushed.
The door cracked open, and Marjorie poked her head in. She waved for Dotty to wrap it up. Dotty quickly got off the phone and just got out of the office when Marvin came down the hall.
"Where have you been? Table six needs their check A-sap!"
"Sorry Marvin, I had to change my tampon," Dotty replied. And just like she expected, Marvin turned on his heels and retreated. All the waitresses knew that the sure fire way to get rid of Marvin was to mention anything to do with having a period. The man nearly fainted at just the thought.
Dotty turned to Marjorie and jumped up and down. "They said yes!" she squealed.
For the rest of her shift Dotty was on cloud nine. She was excited for this opportunity for Randy, but she was also proud of herself. She had set a goal, put time and energy into it and it had paid off. Besides driving to Los Angeles on her own, Dotty really had never done anything for herself or by herself. She'd lived a very sheltered life on the farm. Her Aunt and Uncle had been overly protective of Dotty ever since her parents had died and left her in their care. And then just the year before they had both gotten sick and passed away, leaving Dotty all alone. She thought maybe it was her lot in life to always be left alone, and then Randy called and Dotty knew she would never be alone again. She boarded up the farm house, which now belonged to her, listed it with an agency and took off.
It was nearly time for her shift to end when Dotty spotted Randy looking in the window of the diner. Dotty never grew tired of looking at him. With his shaggy blond hair and blue eyes, Randy always looked the part of a rock star. He looked a bit like a young Rod Stewart, and played it up by wearing skintight jeans and scarves even when it was hot outside. He took far more care with his appearance than she ever did. She was much more comfortable in an old pair of jeans, white tee-shirt, flip-flops and a ponytail but Dotty understood, after Randy explained it to her repeatedly, that in the music industry image was important. Still, she sometimes wished they could go out without Randy taking hours to get ready.
Dotty waved to Randy to meet her around back. Marvin had made it more than clear that boyfriends were not allowed inside while the girls were working. He said it was bad for business, but everyone knew he was terrified a jealous boyfriend would get sick of Marvin ogling his girl and take a swing at him.
Dotty went through the kitchen and opened the back door to the alley. When she saw Randy round the corner she ran to him and jumped in his arms. "We did it!" she exclaimed. "You're playing McGinty's!"
Randy threw his head back and whooped while spinning Dotty around. "Oh my God, Baby! You are the best. I love you so much!"
"I love you too. "
Randy set Dotty down. "See, didn't I say if you came out here things would be different? It's just like we planned. As soon as I get that record contract, I'm going to buy us a house, and get you a car... and we'll get married, and you'll be my manager and..."
"Randy, slow down. It's just one gig," Dotty said but deep down she was feeling just as excited for their future. No more sneaking Ozzy around. No more Mrs. Mintch. And most of all no more Marvin and his milkmaid's uniform.
Randy picked her up and spun her around once more. "But I can feel it Dotty, you and me, we can do anything. Dreams really do come true."
Dotty giggled and planted a kiss on him lips before wiggling to get down. "I have to go back inside. Maybe we can get together after I get off."
Randy looked down and the ground and ran his fingers through his hair. "Um, maybe. I'm gonna be working on lyrics for that new song, so just call me. It's about you."
"Oh, that's so sweet but I can't call you. My cell phone was turned off remember?"
Randy looked up and squinted at the sun, then rubbed his chin and bit his lip. "Well babe, why don't we just plan on seeing each other tomorrow night? I'll pick you up after work."
Dotty hid her disappointment as she smiled and said, "Okay. Sure."
She turned to head back into work but Randy stopped her saying, "Oh hey, can you loan me a few bucks. I need to put gas in the Caddy."
Dotty sighed and reaching into her apron pocket pulled out a stack of money in the amount of around forty dollars and handed it to Randy. She had been trying to get Randy to sell that gas guzzling car ever since she arrived but every time she brought it up she got the "image is everything" speech.
Randy took the money, kissed Dotty on the cheek and said, "Thanks babe, you're the best."
By the time Dotty was sitting on the bus stop waiting to go home, her feet were killing her. She sat on the bench next to an elderly couple who were holding hands. Dotty looked over and smiled thinking that some day that could be her and Randy, still in love after so many years. When the bus arrived, she stepped aside and allowed them to board first and when the old man realizes he had forgotten his wallet and they had no money, Dotty paid their fare.
After a long bus ride and a three-block walk on her aching feet, Dotty finally limped into her apartment building. She would take Ozzy out for a quick walk and then take a long hot shower, provided there was hot water, which wasn't always the case. Dotty and the other tenants often complained about the lack of hot water but Mrs. Mintch refused to replace the outdated water heaters. She felt it was the tenant's responsibility to take shorter showers if they all wanted hot water.
Halfway down the hall, Dotty stopped in her tracks. Her front door was ajar. Her first thought was Ozzy and she ran to see if he was still in the apartment. Dotty swung open the door and was shocked to see Mrs. Mintch standing in her apartment holding Mr. Whizzles, with her was a very obese man from Animal Control. The man had a long pole around in his hands with a rope attached around Ozzy's neck. Ozzy was crouched on the floor growling and the man tried to pull him out the door.
"That dog is a menace," Mrs. Mintch was saying and Dotty entered the room.
"What are you doing?" Dotty shouted. "Let go of him!"
"That mutt snapped at Mr. Whizzles," Mrs. Mintch said with an indignant tone.
Dotty turned on Mrs. Mintch. "What was Mr. Whizzles doing in my apartment? What are you doing in my apartment?"
"I came to hang an eviction notice on your door and I heard a strange noise…"
The animal control officer had gotten the upper hand with Ozzy and began dragging him out of the apartment into the hallway.
Dotty shot a look at Mrs. Mintch and growled, "You're a horrible evil wicked old witch!" She then followed after the agent shouting, "I said let go of him!" With that Dotty rushed the animal control agent, knocking him off balance and sending him tumbling to the ground. "Ozzy, run!" Dotty shouted.
As Dotty ran for the door she heard Mrs. Mintch saying to the agent, "Get up you tub of lard and go get them."
"Geez Lady, she's right, you are mean," the man answered as he pulled himself up and lumbered after Dotty and Ozzy.
The animal control agent was no match for Ozzy and Dotty. Even in high heels she managed to out run him and when they were safely a few block away, Dotty stopped and whistled for Ozzy to do the same. He walked back to Dotty and she removed the rope and pole from around his neck. It brought tears to her eyes to think of how scared he must have been when strangers came into their home. "Are you okay?" she asked while squatting down and rubbing his ears. Ozzy covered her face in kisses, letting her know that he was all right. "Come on, let's go."
It took over an hour for Dotty to reach Randy's house. By the time she got there she was exhausted. Her plan was to spend the night at his house and in the morning he was going to have to go with her to her apartment and pick up her things, not that she had much, a used futon she picked up at a thrift store one suitcase of clothes, a couple of pots and pans and a lamp. Dotty never bothered to buy anything else because the apartment was only meant to be temporary. Randy would just have to tell his roommates that she would be staying with him until they could find a place of their own. It was the same plan, just moved ahead a little.
There was loud muffled music coming from the small beige stucco house. Dotty pounded on the door, but no one answered. She turned the knob and the door opened.
"Hello? Randy?" Dotty called out, but there didn't seem to be anyone around. She knew Randy was home, his yellow convertible Cadillac was parked in the driveway.
Dotty soon realized as she made the way down the hall that the loud music was coming from Randy's room. She remembered he said he was writing a song for her, but as she got closer to the door she recognized the music playing as "Baby One More Time," by Brittany Spears. That was strange. Randy hated Brittany Spears. Why would he be blasting her song?
Dotty opened the door and got her answer. She let out a scream the moment she saw Randy in a lacy pink bra and matching panties jumping up and down on the bed lip-synching the lyrics while a tall, beautiful, blond and very naked woman spanked him.
Dotty screamed. Ozzy barked. Randy stopped jumping and the woman dove for the covers.
"Don't freak out!" Randy stammered. "I can explain."
Now that the woman was safely covered up she regained her confidence and glance over Dotty with her milkmaid dress and Heidi wig. She let out a dismissive laugh and said, "This is your girlfriend? You're right, she is a country bumpkin."
Dotty wasn't able to breath. This couldn't be happening but it was. Her boyfriend was stating on the bed in women's underwear. There was a naked woman, a bitchy one at that, in his bed. Dotty felt like she was in a tunnel. The world was spinning around her. The only thing keeping her grounded was the sound of Ozzy's continuous barks. She had to get out of there. This was so humiliating! Dotty spotted Randy's car keys on the dresser and snatched them. She ran out of the room and out of the house.
Dotty and Ozzy jumped in the yellow Cadillac and she tried to start the car with a shaking hand. In a moment, Randy came barreling out of the house still in the bra and panties. He ran up to the driver's side. "Dotty stop! Don't over react. You know I love you. Julie, in there is a receptionist at Planet Records. I did it for us, baby. She has a lot of contacts."
Dotty swore she would not cry. After the day she'd had the last thing she would do was let him see her cry. "How could you do this to me? We had a pact. It was you and me! I put the farm up for sale so I could come out here and help you. You said we'd be a family." And then Dotty had a realization that socked her in the gut. "This is why we couldn't live together. It had nothing to do with your roommates!"
"Look baby, When you're in the music business..."
"Oh shut up about the music business! You're not in the music business. You work a crappy job at Verizon." Dotty began to mimic the calls Randy had made to her back home, "I love you Dotty. Please come out. I can't make it without you. Blah! Blah! Blah!" And then a second realization punched her in the gut. "That's my bra!"
With more determination, Dotty focused and finally got the key in the ignition. The engine roared to a start.
Randy held onto the side of the door. "Now Dotty calm down. Just get out of the car and we can talk about this."
Dotty through the car into gear, "I never want to talk to you again!"
"You can't take just take my car."
Dotty focused her eyes and glared at Randy. With a lowered voice she stated, "Watch me asshole."
Randy wasn't about to let Dotty take his prized possession. He reached over Dotty and tried to pull the key out of the ignition. Dotty slapped at his hands while shouting, "Get away from me!" Just then Ozzy lunged from the passengers, snapping and growling. Randy jumped back, and Dotty flew out of the driveway, screeching down the street. The last thing Randy saw was Dotty giving him the finger as she took off in his yellow convertible.