Breakfast and later
"Would you spare one of those bread rolls, please, Sir?" Kate looked fearfully at the large man, obviously a fisherman from his waterproof smock and navy blue sailor's cap, as he walked along the seawall carrying a clear plastic carrier bag. His lunch box attracted her attention. The man paused and gazed at the young girl trying to keep warm in the meagre shelter of the bridge, a bridge too tall to prevent her getting wet or feeling the effects of the cold wind. "She's very young to be away from home but she doesn't look like a prostitute, " he thought while looking at the girl's round face surrounded by a colourful woolly hat. He partially revised his opinion of her being a prostitute when hunger driven, she very hesitantly asked again and added, "I ... I ... I'll give you a blowjob if I can have two."
"You must be pretty desperate to make that offer. Have you been here all night? Shouldn't you be in school? Are you one of the homeless?"
"Two nights, Sir, and yes, I am homeless and have no money and the job centre wouldn't let me sign on because I didn't have my birth certificate. I've just finished school, Sir."
"The answer to your request my little kitten, is no, but I can do better than a couple of rolls and don't need a blowjob, not out here in this weather. Get your stuff together and we'll go and see Meg at the café in the marina."
"But I've no money, none at all." The girl almost cried.
"You said that, and I wasn't suggesting you to pay for the food, not with money nor with your mouth." Hardly believing her ears, Kate gathered her bundle of clothes, pushed her woolly hat back and straightened her creased clothes as much as she could. The man watched and wondered at the events that caused an attractive young girl, with decent clothes, albeit a little worse for wear and dishevelled after having been slept in for several nights, not to have a proper home with her family. "She's not unlike my daughter, the daughter I never see except in pictures, similar slightly stocky build but my daughter has blonde hair and hers in dark, " he mused. Somewhat fearfully Kate followed him along the path, a path too narrow to allow them to talk, a path she knew led to the marina where there would be other people if things didn't go as the man said.
"Morning Meg," he greeted the dumpy woman behind the counter in the café.
"Morning Skip," she replied with a smile and eying the girl standing nervously at his side, "What would you like today?"
"Not for me, give this stray kitten a breakfast, I've a feeling she hasn't eaten for a few days." He threw a five pound note on the counter, "I've to go to the marina stores and get a fitting for the boat and if it's any more, I'll pay when I come back for a mug of tea."
"Sit yourself down, Kitten, and I'll bring you a man size breakfast as soon as I've cooked it. We've only just opened and it takes a little while for the hotplates to warm up." Sitting at a corner table out of the way, her stomach rumbling from the smell emanating from the kitchen, Kate looked around, "A typical working men's café", she thought, viewing the Formica topped tables with the condiments, ketchup and brown sauce set centrally, and the four wooden chairs around each. All clean and serviceable, but without frills. From her limited experience, the prices of the meals reflected this and probably attracted working class people rather than clients wanting posh service and fancy wines.
Half an hour later, Skip sat at her table while she finished her meal, "Kitten, what are you going to do for the rest of the day and where will you sleep tonight? Under the bridge?"
"I don't know, I don't know." Her eyes moistened as she thought of another day of fighting the unseasonably cold, wet weather for June and another night outside in the rain.
"Well, two thoughts, and please don't take this the wrong way and think I'm out to molest you. I'm not. See that blue fishing boat ahead of the white yacht?" He pointed through the window, that's my boat. If you would like to come out on it, you'll be very welcome and you won't come to any harm. I've got lifejackets in the shed and I keep an extra woollen sweater on the boat. I have to admit it is not the best of days to go out on the river and won't be offended if you say, no thanks." Kitten declined his offer more because of her fear of being alone on a boat with him were she wouldn't be able to get any help if she needed it, than from the weather conditions. "That's fine," Skip continued, "I didn't think that would appeal to you, especially on a day like this. The second offer is of a room in my house. My son used it until he left home, it has a single bed and all the usual wardrobes and a desk and it has a lock on the door. We'd share the bathroom and I'd expect you to help with the chores but otherwise, I'd treat you like a daughter and I promise you will not be interfered with in any way." A look of horror flashed across her face when he mentioned he'd treat her like a daughter, but Skip didn't notice it and continued, "However, if you feel a bit lonely, I won't mind if you decide to relieve my loneliness and come for a cuddle in bed but I'll never rape you, that I promise. You don't have to make up your mind right now, I'll be back about 2:30 and if you're still around, you can give me your decision then. I'll pay for another mug of tea for you and unless a crowd comes in, I doubt if Meg will mind if you take a long while drinking it. At least it's warm in here."
Kate made the tea last an hour, even though it went stone cold, and prepared herself to be thrown out when Meg came to her table. Customers had started arriving and many of the tables were occupied. "Have you done any waitressing, Kitten?" That appeared to be her name now and in a way she didn't mind because it gave her a sense of anonymity. She shook her head. "Like to give it a try? My usual help has morning sickness and can't make it, probably until after lunch. I can't pay you properly but I can fiddle a tenner from the till and you may get some tips if they like you."
"What have I to lose? I'll be in the warm and get a little money and I may well get lunch here too," she thought and went into the staff washroom to clean and tidy herself and don the big white apron Meg gave her to help cover her rather unsightly clothes.
In the first two hours with not too many customers in at a time, she quickly became adept in taking the orders and, being a top student, had no difficulty in adding the customer's bill, punching it into the ancient till and working out the change. Some of her old happy outgoing spirit returned and she began to enjoy the work and mixing with the customers. At 12:30 a group of eight construction workers arrived, pushed tables together and rearranged the seating. They were boisterous but friendly and Meg took the orders from one end of the table and Kate the other. "Who's she?" one man asked Meg.
"That's Kit," already her pseudonym had been shortened, "Jolene's sick and Kit came by and is giving me a hand. Be nice to her boys, she hasn't done this before."
Apart from having her bottom felt a few times, all went well until Kate calculated the bill for a man they called Seff. "That's £14.50," she informed him.
"You need to go back to school girlie, it only comes to £13.50." Kate quickly and mentally recalculated his bill and knew she had added it correctly and when the group became silent and the eyes of the others focussed on her, she guessed Seff teased her and decided to tease him back.
"I'm sorry Sir, but I fear it is you that need to return to school but in your school days, I guess you still used your fingers as calculators. I'll work it out your way for you if you will put your hands up." Amidst laughter and comments from his friends, Kate pushed a finger down for each £1 the items cost and when all ten digits on his hands were used, she took the ten pound note and went on to calculate the rest." With the approval of his friends, Seff had to admit his so-called mistake.
He tried to get his own back near the end of the meal. "Another mug of tea please Kit." He placed a 50p coin on the counter.
"Tea is £1, Sir."
"Second cups are half price."
"Is that right, Sir?" She noticed Meg give her a strange look. "If you sit down Sir, I'll bring it to you. We're just making a fresh pot and it needs to brew."
Minutes later, she placed a half filled mug in front of him. "Heh, Girlie, aren't you going to fill it?"
"Half price tea is for half a mug full, Sir." His friends erupted into laughter again, as did other customers in the café.
"She got the better of you again," one remarked.
Fortunately Seff took it all in good part and laughed with the others. "Do you live around here, Kit?"
"Sort of," Kate hesitated to reply.
"She's one of the homeless ones, I saw her under the bridge when I went for my morning jog," a lanky construction worker remarked.
"No need to sleep under the bridge tonight, you can sleep in my Portocabin, no charge," Seff grinned.
"And how long would it be before you cheated on me?" Kate grinned too and returned to the counter.
"That Seff is always trying it on. He's just a wag but sometimes he gets Jolene so confused I have to go and sort him out," Meg told her when the men had left and the room quietened, "You kept them under control very well and I've no doubt they'll talk about you for a while yet."
"And I did well for tips from them."
A new home
.... There is more of this story ...