As a Valentine’s day treat we have an excerpt of the whimisical story ‘The Love Offices, Josephine, and Valentino’s’ by emerging UK author Kirsty Favell. Kirsty’s first novel, The Magical Adventures of the Oldest Rockers in Town, will be published later this year, and you’ll be able to read all of Amoredo, Josephine and Vinnie’s story very soon in Pulp Literature issue 6.
The Love Offices
You don’t necessarily need a business mind to understand it but it can help. Amoredo was a long-time employee of Cupid. It had been suggested that he try for promotion many times over the long years but it had never interested him. He’d seen the Love Offices tied up in red tape. People had become so nervous about breaking hearts. According to the Research Department there was a better chance of success if you let people fall in love gradually over an extended period. Well, Amoredo thought, you can’t make an omelette without breaking hearts. Research wasn’t why he had got into this game. He was an old, experienced angel and they pretty much left him to get on with things.
He could tell Cupid was just toeing the line. He was always in strategic meetings these days. His eyes had lost some of their sparkle and the job had lost something important.
Down on earth, Vinnie worked at Valentino’s Bowling Alley, Dance, and Diner, next to the barber shop. He polished the chrome and attended to the customers very well, but the part of the job he loved most was the Lost and Found shelf. This was his responsibility. You would be surprised at the many and varied things the patrons of Valentino’s left behind: a broken toilet seat, a suitcase full of miniature Statues of Liberty, a photograph album stuffed with pictures of a lady in her underwear. (Vinnie especially liked his job on that particular shift.)
The official system was that Vinnie catalogued the date an item was lost and attached a code to it, like a little toe tag. To ensure that Valentino’s didn’t begin to resemble a junk yard, Vinnie was ordered to throw items out with the garbage when they reached their one-month anniversary on the shelf. But Vinnie always felt this was a heartless waste, so he had devised a system of his own. He studied the Items Wanted section of the newspaper. If an item had reached its lost-by date he saw no harm in selling it on (at a very reasonable price). He was an honest man and saw this not as a dishonest act but more as a service.
Josephine liked to collect things. She’d shuffle around crowded thrift stores, pushing past hand-me-down smells, and pick up objects, imagining their past lives and their new home within her home. Each new piece was another new friend, with a collection of memories and a surface that felt nice to touch.
Today on her lunch break she had found an orange teapot that had probably been used by the Queen of England in the Swinging Sixties, and a heart-shaped brooch which reminded her of some words her daddy, God rest his sweet soul, said to her.
“Jo-Jo,” he said (because that is what he called her and that is how his voice sounded, real deep and low, like Elvis), “never try to hold onto anything except your heart. Don’t lose it, little darlin’, and don’t give it away. But don’t be afraid to let it go”.
She pinned that sparkling heart to her western lapel, and the bell on the door signalled her grand exit into the dust and sun like she was the town sheriff.
Read the rest of ‘The Love Offices’ in the Spring issue of Pulp Literature, due out in April.