Lilli was a fey spirit. Slim build, spiky hair, a wisp in the store. Soft voiced. Stacey and Lilli bonded swiftly. Both had lived years in New Orleans. Stacey took time to navigate her world and understand her. To everyone else, she was eccentric, not twisted, merely a strange waif.
Lilli finished tasks well enough. She was a drifty, floaty sort of employee. Certainly wasn't a focused as Mandy, or precise like Sarah. Worse, she liked gabbing with customers. Usually weird old people. The sort that, " ...I cain't afferd this, I ain't got no money." Think loss leaders, then simply, Loss. Poor planners who purchased blowout cassettes for 25¢. Clients I generally scorned.
Lilli was, to her credit, more welcoming.
Derek, of all people in the store, supposedly loathed Lilli. Personality clash.
He spoke under his breath to her, and made horrifying comments. At least, that's what she told Stacey. Only that never went beyond Stacey. No one else in management knew. If Lilli was being bullied, threatened, intimidated by Derek (and Derek had never behaved like that to anyone), then she was receiving zero support from management, from her coworkers.
Real or misunderstood, Lilli began flippin' out.
The afternoon had been hectic. Time was past 6:00, I needed to go home, but one customer after another demanded attention. Lilli lingered, also. I thought someone mentioned she'd lost her purse. Maybe she thought it had been hidden, or stolen. Bad Derek. Or everyone else in the store who hated her. No telling how paranoid her rattled head was.
In any event, I didn't ask first, I simply opened my flap. "Hey, Lilli, you find your purse?"
"What!" She froze stock still. Color drained from her face as she clenched her fists. Then she flushed, "How dare you say that to me?"
Christ, what had I said? Hey-Lilli-Did-You-Find-Your-Purse. She'd gone insane. Yet, instead of asking her what was troubling her, I shrugged and said, "Well, maybe it will find you." Then left, hurried home. Nuts. Crazy. Women. No idea.
I didn't know it, but I had just replaced Derek on her shit list. Because ... she thought I asked if she found her curse yet. That I hoped maybe the curse would find her.
Lilli, New Orleans denizen, weird French name. Made her own clothes, cut her own hair, stepped between the edges of our world and another. Lilli, New Age follower, believed in Voodoo, spells, runes. She completely over reacted when she imagined I put a curse on her.
She hurried home that night, and concocted a counter curse.
Lilli marched around the store for a week, curse clenched in hand. Waiting for me to say one word to her. Then she'd open her palm, display her scrap of paper that read - Die Worthy.
Launch the curse.
Except a week went by and I still hadn't babbled one word.
I thought our work relationship was greatly improved. Shy, moody employee was now industrious and energized. When I looked her way, she had this gleam in her eye. I thought she was really into inventory pulls, or sale stickers, or dusting. Guys were like that. Womenfolk all quiet, simmering volcano about to erupt, while the guy thinks, "Females quiet, things going good. Dum de dum de dum da dum."
This proved too much for Lilli. She had a breakdown and quit. At this point, everyone knew about the Die Worthy rag, now damp, grimy, and tattered sheer. Except me. I was like, "Oh? Why? What's with her? Dum de dum."
Stacey coaxed Lilli back into the store for a three-person conference. She and I sorted out the purse curse mix-up. I think we were friends again. Sorta.
Yet, she never returned to the music store.
Derek disappeared two weeks later.
Moved to Austin.