She had a point. I had enough money to stay out of work for a few more years, but what would happen when the money ran out? Would I be able to find another job? Openings for municipal clerks only happened when someone died or retired, and there weren’t that many municipalities in a reasonable driving distance from my home, so options would be limited.
“I don’t know; would I be walking into another unsafe situation and putting myself at risk of being murdered again?”
“I don’t think so,” Kathy said. “He lived far away from Coral Beach. I think Coral Beach is a safe place. I truly don’t think his murder had anything to do with his job.”
“It’s kind of morbid for me to send in my resume, isn’t it? What would my cover letter say? ‘Heard your clerk got killed, so you must need someone to fill his spot.’ I just don’t know.”
“Well, I wouldn’t put it that way in your cover letter. Just wait until they advertise the position.”
The Village of Coral Beach was a small shore community, just south of my former job in the Town of Sunshine. Both municipalities were situated on a barrier island in New Jersey. I lived over the bridge, on the mainland, in Madisen Township. My parents, Tom and Mary Alton, lived in Sunshine and they had previously provided day care to Mandy when I was working full-time. They missed Mandy since they no longer saw her daily. They would likely be thrilled to babysit regularly again. Depending on the pay, I would be foolish not to at least investigate the opportunity, since it would be in a convenient location.
The position of municipal clerk required someone who was certified by the State of New Jersey. I already had that certification. It entailed being the head of the department and reporting directly to the governing body. It also required being responsible for a myriad of other duties, including elections, licensing, and budgeting, to name a few.
“What can you tell me about Coral Beach?” I asked Kathy. “I know the area—the beach club, the small amusement park, but I don’t know anything about the government.”
“I never heard anything bad. Vinny seemed to like it. He never complained about anything.”
Kathy went on to explain that they were governed by the “Village Form of Government,” which essentially worked like the “Township Form of Government.” I was familiar with how a township was run, since I had worked in one in Middlesex County years ago. Instead of a township committee, they had a board of trustees. Instead of a mayor, there was a president. The board of trustees in Coral Beach consisted of five members who were elected at large. They each served for a term of three years and their terms were staggered.
“Well, keep me posted if you hear anything more,” I told her.
“Good! Then you can come to the Annual Clerk’s Conference with me this year.”
“I don’t know about that. What makes you so sure they’d hire me? I don’t even know yet if Coral Beach would pay for the conference. I also don’t know if I’d have a babysitter for a full week.”
“I think they’d hire you. Use me as a reference; I’ll give you a glowing recommendation. And as for the conference …you could go one night instead of the full week. It’s in Atlantic City again. You’re going to need credits to keep up your certifications.”
We finished our dinner and I headed for home.
“How was your dinner with Kathy?” my mother asked.
“It was good,” I said.
My parents had been worried about me lately. Since my ordeal in Sunshine, I hadn’t gone out of the house often. They were always pestering me to get out more. I was afraid of my own shadow for a while. I had an alarm system installed, bought a German Shepherd, got a gun, and kept to myself…until recently. They liked that I had started to be my old self again.
“Kathy told me there might be an opening in Coral Beach.”
“Oh dear. I read the obituary for that Vincenzo Buttiglieri guy in the paper. A tragedy, passing away like that so young,” my mother said.
“Did you see anything else in the newspaper about it?”
“It was a homicide.”
“Oh my; that’s terrible!”
“Do you think if I applied for that job, it would bring bad karma to me?’
“Oh, Chelsey, don’t be ridiculous.”
“Well, it kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies thinking about taking the job of someone who was murdered.”
My mother rolled her eyes and gave me that look. “Don’t start with the paranoia. It’s close to our house. If you decide you want to go back to work, we’ll watch Mandy for you.”
“How was Mandy tonight?”
“She cried herself to sleep, then your father put her in her crib.”
“Thanks for watching her, Mom.”
My parents left and I sat on the couch, weighing the pros and cons of applying for the impending job opening. I decided it couldn’t hurt to apply if they advertised. The phone rang, interrupting my thoughts about the job. I glanced at the caller ID before answering. It was a number I didn’t recognize.
“Hi. Chelsey? This is Kris.”
I was shocked. Kris was a guy I had met at a New Year’s Eve party. He had kissed me and told me that he wanted to take me out, but then, never called. Since it had been more than three weeks since we had met, I had assumed that phone call was never coming.
“Do you remember me?” he asked.
“Of course,” I replied.
“I’m sorry I haven’t called. My manager at work quit and I’ve been working double shifts. I just hired someone new, so I have a little more free time now.”
Kris owned a restaurant in Jackson Township, New Jersey, named Bratz. It was a German restaurant serving specialty bratwurst and German beers. I had eaten there once before I had met him. He ran a fairly successful business. He was a single dad with a three-year-old son, so I was understanding about him not having any free time. Especially since his wife had passed away during childbirth, making him the sole caregiver of Kris, Jr.
“I totally understand,” I said.
“So are you free tomorrow night? I’d love to take you out.”
I gave him a tentative “yes” with the stipulation that I’d have to make sure I had a babysitter, although I already knew my parents would babysit for me. I guess it was my feeble attempt at sounding like I wasn’t overly desperate.
“I’ve missed those big green eyes of yours,” he said. I melted inside. Needless to say, I went to bed with a huge smile on my face and drifted off to sleep dreaming about the exciting, new life waiting in the not-too-distant future for me.