Tristan was standing by the entrance of the park, his arms crossed over his chest. He was trying to look very grumpy as he waited for Nora to meet him. He was hoping that by looking as unpleasant as possible, he’d be able to scare away potential customers. Unfortunately, his plan wasn’t working. He was just getting a lot of strange looks from the tourists.
“Don’t eat the food! It’s poisoned!” Tristan hissed to a couple that was walking past. The gatekeeper turned to give Tristan a quick glare. Tristan flashed him a fake smile before he turned to a family that was walking through.
“Be careful! The sharks are known to eat little kids!” Tristan whispered to the two small children in the family. The little girl looked at Tristan like he was insane and the little boy stuck his tongue out before his mother pulled him away. Tristan frowned at them as they walked into the park.
Just then, a bright blue shirt--the uniform of the park employees--caught his eye. He glanced over at the gatekeeper, wondering if he had called security, before he turned his gaze back to the blue shirt. He smiled as he realized it was Nora walking towards him with a very unhappy expression on her face. She smiled and said “good morning” to the tourists as they passed her, but each time she saw Tristan, her glare returned.
“Nora! It’s so good to see you on such a nice morning!” Tristan said happily, turning up his annoying factor.
“Yes, it’s lovely. Or at least, it was before I remembered that you met my boss yesterday and made a good enough impression that you actually got a job.” Nora said quickly. Tristan beamed with pride.
“And my mother said that I wouldn’t amount to anything…” Tristan sighed, looking off into the distance. Nora stared at him for a moment when a baffled look on her face. She shook her head and sighed heavily.
“Just…come with me, okay?” she said, grabbing his wrist. Tristan let out a yelp of surprise as Nora dragged him along behind her. She led him to the park’s welcome center and brought him through a door that said “Employees Only.”
Tristan looked around the room with a little bit of awe building inside his heart. It wasn’t a big room, and it wasn’t very showy, but he’d never actually been into an “Employees Only” room that wasn’t at a fast food restaurant. Needless to say, this room was much better than all of those.
There were lockers all along two of the walls, and there were wall lights above some of the lockers. The lockers were the same color as Nora’s shirt, and the walls were a light sage green. There were overhead track lights that illuminated the entire room. In the center of the room was a large wood table with chairs all around it. There was a counter on the wall to Tristan’s left, with a coffee maker, microwave, and sink. There were cupboards above and beneath the counter, all of them made out of dark wood.
Nora glanced over at Tristan as he looked around the room. “Do you like it?” she asked, snapping him out of his trance.
“Oh, yeah, I guess…” he said with a shrug. Nora rolled her eyes, but there was a light smile playing on her lips. She walked over to one of the lockers and motioned for Tristan to follow her. He meandered over and stood next to her, his hands in his pockets.
“Okay, this is your locker.” Nora said, opening the locker up. She handed Tristan a piece of paper. “Here’s the combination…” she said as he took the paper from her hands. “And it works just like a school locker. I can’t imagine you’ve been out of school long enough to forget how to use a locker, so I’m not going to explain that to you.” Nora said quickly. Tristan scoffed.
“Well, thanks for giving me that much credit…” he mumbled. Nora ignored him.
“You can keep your clothes and any other belongings in here during the day then pick them up at the end of your shift.” she continued, stepping out of the way so that Tristan could look inside the locker.
“So, is lunch provided?” he asked, peering into the locker. It wasn’t very wide, and it was only a half-locker, but he really didn’t need that much space.
“If you bring money to buy something from one of the restaurants or venders here.” Nora replied from the other side of the room. Tristan turned around to look at her just in time to get a shirt thrown in his face. He pulled it away from his face and gave Nora a quizzical look.
“That’s your uniform. You apparently weren’t informed that employees are supposed to wear khaki pants, not khaki shorts.” Nora said with a sigh.
“Hey, at least I’ve got the khaki part down.” Tristan said with a shrug. Nora rolled her eyes.
“Just get changed in there--” Nora said, pointing to the door on the wall to Tristan’s right. “And meet me in outside the welcome center when you’re done, okay?” Nora finished quickly.
“Okay, okay…” Tristan muttered, taking his shirt into the other room. He closed the door and smiled as he heard Nora let out a heavy sigh. He was going to make her life miserable.
Tristan walked out of the welcome center and saw Nora talking with a happy couple. He smiled as he approached them. This was going to be fun.
“Yes, but I’m going to guess that the Water Spout isn’t going to be your cup of tea,” Nora said with a friendly smile. The couple laughed.
“No, I think that would be a little too twisted for my stomach to handle.” the other girl said with a giggle.
“You have a sensitive stomach? I would suggest not going to any of the restaurants here, then.” Tristan said, butting into the conversation. The couple looked at him with confused expressions while Nora stared at him in shock. “Yeah, a LOT of cases of food poisoning come from these restaurants, and don’t even get me started on the vendors!” Tristan said with a small laugh. Nora’s mouth fell open as the tourists exchanged worried glances.
“There are also some pretty intense attractions in here, like the dolphins at five. Pretty scary--” Tristan was suddenly cut off when Nora elbowed him in the ribs.
“I’m sorry, you’ll have to excuse him. He’s a compulsive liar. He just can’t control himself.” Nora said quickly. The two tourists looked at her skeptically. Nora nodded convincingly and their skeptical looks began to slowly fade away.
“I am not a compulsive liar!” Tristan gasped, clutching his stomach where Nora had elbowed him.
“Don’t listen to a word he says, just go enjoy your time here.” Nora said quickly. She smiled then began pushing the couple away from Tristan. Tristan glared at her as she walked away.
Nora turned around and stormed towards Tristan, a look of hatred in her eyes. “Listen, Tristan, here’s how the game is going to be played: if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. If you behave yourself and speak civilly, then I’ll do the same.” Nora said patiently. “However, if you are mean to me, I will be mean to you. If you misbehave and don’t speak civilly, then I’ll do the same.” she finished, getting as close to Tristan’s face as she could. She had to stand on her tiptoes in order to do this, and even then she was still a good two or three inches from his face.
“Do you understand these conditions?” Nora asked, sounding much more threatening than Tristan had ever thought possible.
“Um…yes…” Tristan said slowly. He and Nora stared at each other for a moment longer before Nora flipped her hair over her shoulder and turned to walk off.
“All right, follow me. I’ll show you what your new job is all about.” Nora said briskly. She walked away quickly and Tristan sighed. This might be harder than he had originally thought…