Val scoured the car for any spare clothes, thankfully luck was on her side; for she found a shirt and trousers which seemed to be just her size.
She studied the neighborhood stands and the post newspaper in her hands for any news for jobs.
Standing under a shade eating steam buns, Val let out a loud sigh " Bah! All these jobs require a CV but I don't have one. I lost all my credentials to those baboons. How will I get employed now? "
Meticulously, she spotted a group of men transporting bags of cement into a truck. Behind them was a short and fat middle-aged woman wearing a frown.
As if bitten, Val sprang up. She quickly ate all the buns and walked towards the group of men.
" You guys are so slow. Hurry up, I need all this at my warehouse in City V" the middle-aged woman screamed supporting her arms on her thick waist.
That was how the depressed feeling evaporated and it was covered by a sweet smile. Val coughs out to get their attention.
" Greetings, Ma'am I overheard you needed more help"
The men working stopped to laugh at the stupid woman who wanted to do a man's work.
" Marie Antoinette. Hahaha " they all jeered.
The woman scanned Val from her to toe and then laughed mockingly. " You who looks like an aids patient. How can you help me?"
However, Val was not offended she was indeed very thin due to the poor treatment she received back at the brothel. Plus, she needed a job as soon as possible.
" Ma'am give me a chance" she raised her cerulean blue eyes pitifully.
The middle-aged woman clapped her hands in shock. She then looked at the men with worry in her eyes.
' My husband insisted I get this to the warehouse and this man looked tired. Should I hire this girl? '
She sighed "Fine! Try carrying this first then I will see if you can handle these bags. Each person has to carry fifty bags of cement "
Coincidentally, both hoped inwardly that she could carry the heavy fifty kilos of cement. With aid from the woman, Val placed the bag on her shoulders.
Though it was crushing pain, she gritted her teeth and walked hastily to the truck where she passed it on to the guy who stood in the truck placing the bags in order.
Next, she took another bag then in quick intervals.
" Is she a woman?"
" Oh my goodness, this girl is on her thirtieth bag," said another to his companion as they stared at the Val approaching carrying two bags this time.
After passing it on, Val returned for another with a proud smile on her face for she had managed the shut them up.
Finally, she transported eighty bags of cement.
" What is your name lady?" Val heard the squeaky voice of her boss.
Instantly she bowed her head, a training she learned at the coffee plantations back home. It was a sign of respect and it could make you the boss's favorite.
"Ma'am: I am Valeria, ma'am. "
Like Magic, it worked, and the middle-aged woman's smile grew in pride. She felt like she was above everything, these men were never this respectful towards her.
" Nice job Valeria. You worked hard more than anybody today even though they all started before you. So, as encouragement, I will add the twenty dollars to the said payment. Valeria's eyes widened used as she fell to her knees with her head still bowed in respect. " Oh, ma'am. Thank you so much: you don't know how much you have helped nr. Thank you ... "
The men grumbled among themselves, they stared at the girl in hate.
' Why did she get a raise in barely a day when we have been working for this ugly woman for a month? '
Like that they all dispersed in resentment after receiving their due payments.
Still, on her knees, Val continued " ma'am please can I spend my nights in this warehouse ... '
Valeria watched the woman's expression smartly. She immediately pouted her lip and looked up with teared-up eyes.
" I am going to be like the gateman you never hired. I mean you don't need to pay me "
When her boss heard this, she smiled inwardly while physically acting indifférent.
" Take care of my warehouse, it might be empty but..."
Instantly Val stood up raising put three fingers to swear. " I swear on my brother's life"
The middle-aged woman sighed once more before opting to leave.
" Wait, ma'am"
" What do you want to know? Free lunch"
This made Val chuckle a bit.
" Oh..that would be wonderful however I need to use your phone to call my family so ...they wouldn't worry"
" First my warehouse then my phone, what next my husband?"
To this Val remained silent bowing still.
" I lost contact with you guys because of some problem with my immigration papers but now it is all fine. With my great credentials, I may get a job as the CEO" she spoke proud and loud
The voice from the other side of the phone sighed " You are always joking dear. Well, I am beyond happy to have talked to you. Your grandpa had stopped eating ..."
Upon hearing this from her grandma, Val covered the phone and cried out in pain. Her beloved grandpa had been starving herself because he was worried about her whereabouts. Gaining her voice, she spoke childishly while giggling
" He is lucky, he is as sleep at this moment. Or I would have scolded him so bad "
Her grandmother laughed out loud. " No no. Thankfully my husband is asleep. "
At this moment, Val took notice of her boss glaring at her. She quickly laughed again before saying goodbye.
" Greet my brothers and grand Papi and please do not save this number it is not mine. I am still to buy a phone"
" Ok, dear. Take care: we love you remember that"
" I know grandmother. I also love you guys... desperately" she later blew a kiss before hanging up.
A few days later after working at that warehouse, Val finally made enough money which could take care of the bills for her family. She also bought a secondhand phone which she used to communicate with her family daily to make up for the times she could not contact them.
Presently, she has left with just money for some steam buns for the next three days. Luckily she spent the nights in the warehouse sleeping on cartons.
Valeria returned from the compulsory thirty minutes break. She strolled happily to the warehouse where she noticed a chaotic situation by the shop.
" There she is" Val saw her Boss point at her furiously.
" She is the thief"
Baffled by the middle-aged woman's words, Val turned behind to see if the woman might have another person in mind.
This seemed to annoy the woman more, she rushed and slapped Val hard
" Yes! You Thief"
" Thief? But..."
" You are under arrest for stealing the sum of 100000dollars from your boss. I advise you to remain quiet or anything you say or do might be used against you in a court of law. If you can't afford a lawyer the state will provide one"
Val's mouth fell agape and her eyes bulge as tears began piling. Hoping they assuaged her curiosity she remarked" What is happening? What money? ... the court... lawyer...arrest"
Without any explanation, she was handcuffed and could only hear the middle-aged woman sputtering out curses in her wails.
From the corner of her eyes, Val spotted her colleagues smiling at each other.
Immediately she placed two and two together.
' I was framed by those jealous men '
" Ma'am. Listen I did not steal from you. They did, not me. They are jealous and are trying to frame me" yelled Val as they commanded her to get into the van.
Starved, bitten, and cursed at were the order of the day for Valeria. She was kept in the women's cell along with three other women.
It was her fourth day in the cell, however, she never said a word to anyone. She only mumbled to herself admits crying.
Her cellmates found it ludicrous and would mock her.
Seeing Valeria had stopped her murmurings, one of the cellmates stood up from the bench she sat on which was opposite Val's. She strode then sat next to Val with a wide grin of mischief plastered on her face " Hey Cinderella where is your prince"
" Hey, Cinderella is almost midnight. Where is your prince?" ridiculed another with a snake tattoo on her arm. She was Agnès, the oldest among them all. The one who was the most feared and respected.
Although Valeria was fed up with their constant torturing. She was more concerned with how her family was faring. It had been four days since they had not heard from her..
What if her grandpa starved himself once more or worse his blood pressure rose? It was a situation that was devouring her continuously.