Dirty Money

By: Jessica Clare



“I am.”

I wince. Well, he’s called Dumb Jack for a reason. “Ouch. Besides, you know they only put me on the flyer because they had to have a girl on there.”

“Oh, I know. Said they didn’t want to appear sexist.” She puts her fingers in the air and makes a set of quotes. “Appear. I mean, they are sexist, they just don’t want to look it.”

I smile wanly at her. They may be sexist, but they’re also the bosses and I can’t do much about it. To make things worse, Winky Jack also handles the human resources for the company, so it’s not like I can go complain about his buddies. Or himself.

I just need to work harder. Once I’ve climbed a few rungs in the ladder, I’ll make good money and I’ll have so many clients I won’t be stuck here in the office, twiddling my thumbs. And if at that point I’m still not making good money? I’ll at least have enough experience under my belt to go somewhere else . . . or hang my own shingle and get the full three percent commission. It’s a nice dream.

It also won’t become a reality unless I hustle.

I look over at the picture on the corner of my desk. It’s recent, a picture of my little sister Wynonna in her cap and gown at graduation. My arms are around her and our faces are pressed close together. She’s so happy, so excited to take on the world. So eager to get out there.

It’s for her that I’m doing all this.

So I pull up the forums, put my hands on the keyboard, and go back to work trying to drum up clients online.

***

It’s getting late in the day when I get a call from my sister on my brand-new iPhone. I had to get it because my flip phone and printed maps were making some of the clients look at me funny. Problem is, I can’t figure out how the whole “smart” phone works, and so I swipe the wrong buttons and end up missing the call. Farah just snorts and rolls her eyes, like I’m the world’s biggest goober.

Maybe I am, but I could never afford a smartphone until now. Actually, I still can’t, but I’m forking out extra money so I look legit to my clients. Plus, okay, the mapping application is pretty awesome.

A text comes in a moment later, shaking my phone.

Wynonna: U there, Reba?

Ivy: I am. And remember, I’m Ivy now!!

Wynonna: O god, whatever.

Wynonna: I don’t have time for this crap.

Well, she’d better make time. Ivy’s my real name now; I had it changed legally. Reba sounded like a redneck cliché, and when my teacher at my realtor classes suggested that I go by a less “polarizingly Southern” name, I jumped at the chance. I’ve been Ivy to everyone else for the last two years, but to my sister, I guess I’ll always be Reba Lee Smithfield.

Wynonna: I have a flat. Gonna B late getting home.

Ivy: Are you ok?

Wynonna: Rim’s bent I think. We got the money for that?

I wince. We don’t. We don’t even have the money for the insurance for Wynonna’s little 1992 Civic, but I’m trying to make it work. I type slowly, since my fingers feel too big and clumsy for the tiny smartphone screen.

Ivy: I’ll figure it out. Are you pulled over somewhere safe?

Wynonna: I’m fine. A friend is coming to pick me up, but the car’s on the side of the highway. You want me to wait for a tow truck?

Ivy: No, those cost too much. I’ll leave work and see if I can change the spare for you. Maybe it’s not as bad as we think.

Wynonna: Ok! Just text me when u get there. I’m sorry :(

Ivy: Don’t be sorry! The tires were old. We knew they would go soon. I’ll handle it.

Wynonna: K! Don’t work 2 late! Friend is taking me 2 a used bookstore so I can see if any of my college texts are there. Maybe I can get them cheap.

Ivy: Smart thinking!! XO

Wynonna: XO to u 2

I put the phone down and resist the urge to bury my head in my hands. Car repairs—the last thing I can think about right now. Wynonna needs her car to go to college, and I need to finish scraping together some money for her tuition. If it’s just a flat tire, we can eat ramen for a week or two and scrape by. If it’s more than that . . . well, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. I’m just glad my little sister wasn’t hurt.

Of course, this means I really need to get some leads. Shoot. I might take a clipboard to the mall and pretend to do a survey, all so I can pass out some cards. It’s desperate, but heck, I am desperate at this point, and the Jacks keep stealing all my good leads. After that, I might stop by the library and the gym and pin a few cards to corkboards. Something will pay off eventually, if I just put enough work into it.

Well, no time like the present to get started.

I gather my things, stuffing my folders and then my laptop into my shoulder bag. No rest for the wicked, and I’m going to put in a long night tonight trying to drum up leads. I might even try Facebook ads and Craigslist, if that’s what it takes. All I need to do is sell one house in the next thirty days and I can pay for Wynonna’s tuition. If I get someone in escrow, I can ask for an advance until payday. I have options. I just need to get someone in the door. I’m sure I can seal the deal if that happens.

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