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The Assistant


by londonparistokyo

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Krista folded and unfolded her wings and adjusted her Tombola T-shirt. Taking a deep breath, she strode over to the shack a few yards away. Everything was at stake here; she must not screw this up! When she reached the hut, the Tombola Man groaned and held out a pot of tickets. She chose one; it read 14. "Oh well, better luck next time. No booby prize either." The Tombola Man turned away, obviously expecting Krista to walk away.

     "Excuse me sir, do you have a moment?" The Tombola guy turned back, and seeing her, said "Sorry, one draw per day, no refunds, and no arguments."

     Krista quickly replied, "Oh no, sir, I don't have a problem with my ticket. See, I'd like to apply to be your assistant!"

     "I don't have assistants. Don't need them either." He repeatedly served potential winners as he spoke.

     "But that's where I think you're wrong. Think of how much easier your life would be if you had somebody to help you hand out booby prizes, give tickets, handle complaints, and all that." Krista smiled hopefully. "I've got a lot of experience with that sort of thing. See, I used to baby-sit on Roo Island before my owner decided to move."

     "Well, that does sound helpful. NO, 456 IS NOT A WINNING TICKET!" He wasn't yelling at Krista, rather at a persistent Lenny that was just sure that he'd won. "Hey, you're not one of those annoying reporters that tries to find out my source of income, are you? Because it's all donations, I can assure you!"

     "Definitely not, sir. I'm a simple red Scorchio looking for a job, that's all. So will you hire me?"

     The Tombola Man scratched his head. "I suppose. Be here at 5am tomorrow and wear that shirt. Even better, put this half-coconut shell on your head." He handed her the shell, and she scampered off. She had the job she'd always wanted!

     The next day, Krista reported for work at 5am, bleary eyed but wearing her "uniform". She still thought the coconut shell carefully balanced atop her spiky head looked stupid, but who was she to decide? Finally arriving at the Tiki Tombola hut, she walked through the back door- the same back door the Tombola Man himself used. Oooh, this is so exciting, she thought to herself.

     "What are you doing with that coconut shell on your head? It looks stupid- take it off at once and put it on the booby prize shelf." Without letting Krista interject, the Tombola Man rambled on. "Are you familiar with how the game is played? Anyway, there are 600 tickets in this bucket. If the number ends in 0, 2, or 5, then it's a winner. What I'm going to do is put you in charge of..." He paused to serve a customer while Krista waited breathlessly.

     Winning prizes? Booby prizes? Taking donations? Manning the shack over lunch? She could only guess at what he might say. "...Stocking the prize shelves. Here's an inventory list; make sure we have at least 10 of each item on the shelves and if we don't- you go in the back and take some more out of the boxes. Got that?" He went back to the customers with out waiting for a response from Krista.

     Three hours later, Krista was exhausted. Fortunately, she was also finished with the inventory. She went back to the Tombola Man and asked him what she should do next. "Hmmm... Do you think you could handle giving out booby prizes? I'll give tickets and send some people over to you to get their booby prize. Don't let any argue with you, just give out one prize per customer."

     "Okay sir, I can handle that." Krista was thrilled to be finally working behind the counter.

     "Don't give me pickled olives, I have too many jars already!" A pink Wocky was Krista's first "customer".

     "Sorry, it's the luck of the draw. Have fun trying to get them open," she responded.

     Already she was faced with another winner that "was allergic to chocolate, so could he please exchange his Neoflakes cake for a cherry pie?"

     "Grr... No exchanges and pie isn't on the booby prize list, either." Krista was about tired of all these people. Finally, after another two hours, the Tombola Man said it was time for lunch. Krista was delighted. Then he told her that they were out of Neopoints, and he wanted her to collect donations over lunch. "Help yourself to some prize food, but make sure nobody steals anything either!"

     "Great." Krista forced herself to smile. At least she didn't have to say much more than a simple thanks to the donators. Most people just walked away when they found the shack was closed, so her job wasn't all that difficult. She was just finishing her lime milkshake when a camouflage Poogle came by.

     "Why, you're out of money? How much more do you need? Where's the Tombola Man? Who are you?" He didn't show any inclination to donate, but Krista was forced to answer his questions.

     "Yes, 10,056 NP, out to lunch, and his personal assistant." She took surprising pride in the 'personal assistant' part. "Want to donate?" To her astonishment, he pulled 20,000 out of his backpack and dropped it into the kettle at Krista's feet.

     "Now can I play?" he questioned.

     Krista thought hard. The Tombola Man hadn't told her what to do if they got enough to reopen. She finally decided she could probably just hand out the prizes. He'd probably be back from lunch soon, too, so she decided it wouldn't hurt to serve this generous donator. "Just a minute, the ticket bucket's in the back."

     "I'll be waiting" The Poogle sat down in the grass, all smiles. He was, Krista thought to herself, probably incredibly rich, vain, and lazy- the pet that never had to work for his keep as she did. She couldn't let her opinions show, though, since he was a customer of hers.

     When Krista returned with a bucket and a chart, the Poogle was still there. She offered him the bucket of tickets, and he carefully drew one. Just as cautiously, he unfolded it and read the number. 425. "Oh! That's a winning one. Today must be your lucky day!"

     "Oh? What do I win?"

     "Um..." Embarrassed, Krista consulted the chart. It took her what seemed like hours to find the correct number, but she finally read it off. "203 Neopoints, a Har Codestone, and a Strawberry Milkshake. Aren't you lucky!" She handed the Poogle his winnings and he left, just before the Tombola Man came back.

     "How you doing here? Manage to make a few Neopoints?"

     "Yes, sir, we received enough donations to reopen so I was..." Should she tell him? She made a split-second decision not to and resumed speaking. "Getting your ticket stuff from the back so it'd be ready."

      "Oh, what a good helper you are. Let's see... I think I'll have you refold the used tickets now. Shouldn't be too hard a job, and besides I'd rather do the prizes myself. Have a reputation to keep up, you know." Krista gaped. FOLDING TICKETS? Oh well, first day on the job, she couldn't expect too much. However, she thought she'd done a good job on the booby prizes. Still incredulous, she resigned herself to folding.

     Five hours later, it was closing time. Krista's fingers ached from the constant folding. Turns out that after 2pm there was a sudden rush of business, and 600 tickets don't last long unless they're folded and tossed back quickly.

     The Tombola Man turned out the light and was about to walk home when Krista asked him about her pay. "Pay? You want pay? I don't remember that being in the agreement. I thought you wanted to volunteer!"

     "NO!" Krista was practically in tears, as she was exhausted beyond belief. Do all that work for free? She wanted to scream.

     "Alright already. I'll pay you. Here." The Tombola Man handed her a can of pickled olives, some invisible sand, and 53 Neopoints. "See you tomorrow." He walked off into the dusk.

     Krista didn't reply. She stared at the "pay" she'd received. Was it truly worth it, just to say she was the Tombola Man's personal assistant? As she slowly plodded home, she wondered over that question again and again.

     At four-thirty the next morning, Krista's owner came into her room. "Kris, will you please baby-sit your little brothers and sister today? They want to go to Faerieland, but I'm too busy to take them. You're their last shot." Krista glanced at the invisible sand sitting on her desk, alongside the olives where she'd left them last night.

     "Sure, Lara, I'd be happy to." Krista's reply came without hesitation.

The End

This is a final tribute to Griff, Kel, Emma, and Tessa. Thank you for being there; Good-bye!

 
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