Hey ya’ll. My name is Elizabeth Polk, and I’m the assistant manager of the Bottom Dollar Emporium located in Caybook Creek, South Carolina. We’re an old fashioned dollar store, selling everything from penny candy (Charleston Chews, Swedish Fish, and lengths of licorice pipes) to tins of Cloverine Salve to Clabber Girl Baking Powder. We used to be a Kress Dime store back in the day; we still have the original pressed tin ceiling and a brass spittoon by the door. (Although we’ll thank you not to use it; it’s just for show.)
I work here with the owner Mavis Loomis and Attalee Gaines, the most obstinate octogenarian you’ll ever meet. (She complains about wearing her dentures to work on Fridays because it’s casual Fridays.) The three of us are known around our sweet little borough as the Bottom Dollar Girls.
We’re all on edge because a corporate dollar store is coming to town threatening to put the Bottom Dollar out of business. That’d be a crying shame seeing how we’re practically the only community center in town with everyone dropping by for coffee and a little bit of gossip.
The threat of losing my job isn’t the only burr in my shoe. Not too long ago my fiancé Chip Jenkins wrote me a Dear Jane letter on the back of a Hardees bag and stuck it under the windshield wipers of my Chevy Geo. Talk about your coldhearted kiss-offs.
One of our customers, Gracie Tobias, the wealthiest woman in town, set me up with her grandson Timothy but I’m a little worried about the differences him and me. His family lives in a mansion in the fancy part of town, and I live in an old mill house on Scuffle Road with my dog Maybelline (So called because she’s black and messy like mascara).
Also my kin can be a bit embarrassing. In fact, you may have seen my daddy on TV. He owns the Bargain Bonanza, a rent-to-own furniture place and calls him himself Insane Dwayne. (Yes, he’s the one who is always blowing up ottomans and La-Z-Boys). His slogan is, “Our savings are explosive.” Honestly sometimes I don’t want to claim him.
But the most important thing on my mind right now is saving the Bottom Dollar Emporium. If it goes under, Mavis says she moving to South Dakota to be with her sister. I can’t let that happen. Mavis is a Southern gal, born and bred. She should be surrounded by magnolias, not moose. And South Dakota is so far away it might as well be Jupiter. I’d probably never see her again if she moved.
We’ll see how it all shakes out. I have a head for business so I’m organizing a meeting of all the community leaders in town. Maybe we can stop big corporations from swooping into Cayboo Creek and taking over. Jerry Sweeney of Stuff and Mount Taxidermy, Jewel Turner of the Chat and Chew Diner, and Orson Hobbs of the Bait Box and Tanning Salon will all be in attendance. We’re a town that cares about each other.
You should swing by Cayboo Creek sometime. Little Southern towns life ours are a dying breed. We have more churches than bars. (Although if you like to imbibe, the Tuff Luck Tavern is open every night except Sundays. Steer clear from the hard boiled eggs in a jar on the bar; I think some of them eggs have been there since the Carter administration.)
Most everyone in town knows everyone, and we occupy ourselves with football games, parades and pot luck suppers. If we see you on the street, we’ll hug your neck and ask you about your mama and them. Cayboo Creek is a great place to get your Southern on. We like our chicken fried, our cathead biscuits flaky, and our tea so sweet, it’ll make your teeth ache into next Tuesday.
I’ve got plenty of adventures to share with you in Bet Your Bottom Dollar, but no need to rush off when we wrap it up. Put up your feet and settle your tush into one of the rocking chairs on the porch of the Bottom Dollar Emporium. We got two more installments in the series. There’ll be husband stealing, a visit from a movie star and road trips to Myrtle Beach and South of the Border. Never a dull day around here.
Ding! That’s the bell over the front door. Got me a customer so I best go. Stop by. I’ll be more than happy to give you a personal tour of Caybook Creek and introduce you to all my friends.
You can read more about Elizabeth in Bet Your Bottom Dollar, the first book in the new “Bottom Dollar” mystery series, published by Henery Press.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 20 for the chance to win a copy of BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
About the author
Karin Gillespie is national bestselling author of five novels. Her nonfiction writing had been in the New York Times, The Writer Magazine and Romantic Times. She maintains a writing blog at Karingillespie.net. Follow her at @gillespiekarin or friend her on Facebook.