Hearing his name broke Patrick out of his tax-filing haze. Ray had told him someone had called to make an appointment for 10am, but neglected to tell him who. In the four months he had been working with Ray’s, he had learned to tune out most of what Ray was saying. Photography was Ray’s latest business venture (an activity Patrick knew nothing about) and was taking up most of his time. He often forgot he had a primary job so all the business filings, town taxes, and civil paperwork naturally fell to Patrick. So he knew Ray calling out his name only meant one of two things: there was someone to file paperwork or he needed to hold a bounce.
Patrick turned the corner and there was Ray and a striking man standing in front of him. Based on his clothes and hair alone, the man clearly did not belong in Schitt’s Creek. Patrick had never seen him before and he would have definitely remembered if he did. None of the men his age looked like that.
“B13,” Ray said before returning quickly to his photo session. The man gingerly handed Patrick a small paper number.
“This is for you.”
“Patrick.” Patrick offered his hand.
“David.” This could only be one person. Shockingly there was only one David in town.
“Ah, David Rose,” Patrick said. He knew about the Rose family and had therefore heard about David Rose, the son of video magnate Johnny Rose of Rose Video.
Well, besides himself. But no one knew that.
“You bought the general store.”
“Leased,” David corrected him. “Leased the general store, yeah.”
“It’s a big deal.” Next to the Café Tropical, the general store was the only other point of interest in Schitt’s Creek that generated any kind of business. It was a shame when it closed.
“Is it?” David seemed unimpressed.
“Yeah, it’s pretty big.” Patrick smiled. “You wanna have a seat?” He gestured to his desk and they both took a seat. He picked up the incorporation papers he had ready to go. “So, why don’t we start with the name of the business?”
“Oh, I’m oscillating between two names at the moment, so if we can just leave that one blank, that’d be great,” David answered.
‘Oscillating’. Of course.
“Sure, sure,” he said. “Give you more time to ‘oscillate’. Um, business address?”
“Ok, so I'm working on that,” David replied. “I'm currently staying at a motel and I think it might be confusing if I gave you the address for another business.”
Patrick hadn’t heard that one before. It made sense, but this was going to be harder than he thought.
“Yup, for sure. We’ll leave that blank as well,” he said, then added flirtingly, “Battin’ a thousand here, David.”
“I don’t know what that means,” David said bluntly.
Patrick chuckles. Here he was with a gorgeous queer man in front of him and he goes with a baseball metaphor. Strike one.
“Hey, here’s an easy one,” he continues down the sheet. “Brief description of the business.”
“Well, it's a general store,” David began, “but it's also a very specific store.”
“And it's also not just a store. It's like a place where people can come and get coffee or drinks but it's not a coffee shop nor is it a bar.” Patrick had never met anyone like David. He couldn’t help but smile he was so amused.
“Okay, so we’re pretty clear on what it’s not.”
“Yeah, it’s an environment.” Patrick’s smile grew wider as David continued. “And yes, we will be selling things, but it's more like… more like a branded immersive experience.”
“Right,” Patrick said. “I love the buzzwords, David. But I do need to put something down here.” As much as he could listen to David vaguely describe his store all day, he still had to do his job.
“Okay, you couldn’t use anything I just said?”
Patrick smiled in amusement.
“Tell you what,” he said, handing David the form, “why don’t you take these home with you and fill them out when you have a clearer idea of what you want to do with the business.”
“Okay, um, I do have a clear idea,” David retorted.
“Oh, so you’ve settled on a name, then,” Patrick replied cheekily.
“Okay, you’re either very impatient or extremely sure of yourself.”
“Threw you a bit of a change-up there, huh?” He couldn’t get over how cute David was, let alone that he was openly flirting with someone.
“Again, I don’t know what that means. I don’t play cricket.”
Patrick smiled and reached for his business card. He knew this was just part of the proceedings, but a little part of him thrilled at the fact he was giving David his number.
“Look, take this,” he said. “It’s my card and I feel like you will need it.”
“You know what? I think I’m good,” David said half-confidently as he took the card. “So thank you for this.” He meandered toward the door.
“Nice to meet you, David,” Patrick called out after him.
“Yeah.” It was a half-hearted response right before he left Ray’s house.
Patrick knew he’d see David again. He had to turn his incorporation paperwork back in at some point and he hoped that would be sooner rather than later. Even if David wasn’t entirely receptive to his flirting, he didn’t outright deny him. Wait, did it even register as flirting? God, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever flirted that openly anywhere other than that one fleeting moment at a small bar in Elmdale. In the end he figured the bartender was just overly friendly. But if it didn’t even come across as flirting, maybe he was more out of practice than he thought.
Patrick was fighting a losing battle. He couldn’t stop thinking about David. It was silly, considering their brief interaction, but he needed to prepare things to talk about. The battle was even harder when Bob was sitting right in front of him, prattling on about his bagel business. They had gone over it for months and despite Patrick telling him it was risky, Bob was insistent. So, every week, Patrick was treated to an hour of Bob waxing on about his hypothetical bagel shop.
“And so I was thinking pink and mint might be good colors for the display case—”
The egg timer on Patrick’s desk went off. It was the only way to keep their meetings to an hour.
“I guess I’ll see you next week?” Patrick asked. Despite the abrupt ending, Bob was all smiles.
“Yes you will, Patrick,” he said. “You made me really think about the whole toaster situation. Thank you.” Bob quickly gathered his things and headed out the door.
Patrick slumped back in his seat. It was exhausting trying to focus on anything except David. Ray finally emerged from the upstairs.
“Is he gone?” he asked.
“Okay, good. I hadn’t finished planning his linen closet organization system yet and he was expecting it three days ago,” Ray explained as he started puttering around his camera equipment.
Patrick picked up his phone, hoping he at least had an interesting message from his cousin to distract him. Instead, he found 8 voicemails from an unknown number.
Could it be?
His heart leapt in his throat as he hit play on the first one.
“Hi David, it’s Patrick,” the message began. Patrick chuckled at David’s mistake. “I was just calling to run my business plan by you in a little more detail. So feel free to give me a call back and I will be happy to talk you through it. Okay. Ciao.”
“Oh, ‘ciao’!” Ray fawned. “I had a girlfriend in high school who would say ‘ciao’. She was abducted by a Mexican cartel.”
Patrick smiled broadly. It was a funny message, so he could only assume what the next ones could be.
“Hi Patrick. I-I think I called you David which – that’s not your name,” David said deprecatingly. “You can just delete that text – the – the voicemail I left you. Um, just thought it might be a good idea to give you some background information about the store. It’s basically a general store, um, that will support local artists under the brand of the store which would also be my brand—” The message cut off.
Patrick was in awe. It was a brilliant idea and something that could really unite the town and all the surrounding areas. Most of the residents of Schitt’s Creek lived so far from one another that they didn’t know of each others’ wares. And considering David was a man who enjoyed high quality – at least, as far as Patrick could tell in the 5 minutes they spent together – the general store would become something no one here had ever seen.
“This is boring,” Ray announced. “I’m going to lunch.” And with that, he left the house.
Sighing, Patrick gazed at his phone as he pressed the next one.
“Yeah, the text cut us off!” David huffed. “Anyway…” He then spent the next 6 voicemails explaining to Patrick his whole living situation (“You know, the only motel in town.”), the name he chose (“It just screams ‘organic’ and ‘locally-sourced’.”), and more about the products he’d get (“Mr. Alberts’ goat milk lip balm would sell, right?”). It was a clever idea that David had clearly thought a lot about, rambling for minutes on end.
All 8 messages totaled to 23 minutes. Patrick couldn’t help but smile the whole time. And after listening through all of them, he picked up a pen and hit play again on the first message.
“Hi David, it’s Patrick…” As it played, he wrote on a blank incorporation form. Applicant: David Rose. Business name: Rose Apothecary.
He played them all again and was able to fill out the entire form.
Then he played them one more time for good measure.
His once empty afternoon got very busy when Ray “suddenly found” a huge stack of tax-deductible receipts lurking in a closet. Patrick suspected he had finally cleaned out his car. Either way, there was a lot of sorting going on. He didn’t mind it. It gave him something to do other than watching Ray assemble a new closet unit in the back room or listen to David’s messages again. One more play through and he would’ve hit full creep level.
The front door opened and lo, there was David, form in hand.
“Hi,” he said sheepishly. “Um, so I messed up my form and I’m going to need another form from you.”
“Oh, okay,” Patrick replied. He couldn’t help but smile. David was here. In the same day!
“Nothing,” he deflected. “I just—I’m just so glad you made good use of my business card.” He walked over to his desk, David following. “I’m sorry I didn’t pick up. I was at a thing.”
“Well, best that you didn’t,” David chuckled.
“But I got all your messages.”
“Ah,” David said curtly. “And just listened to the first on and erased the rest?”
“No, no,” Patrick said teasingly. “I listened to all of them. I kinda had to to piece them together. Actually, I played them for a few friends of mine. I was at a birthday party. There were a lot of people weighing in.”
David looked mortified.
“Just kidding,” he assured him. “I didn’t play them for anybody.”
“I found the first few were very humorous but then I lost interest,” Ray chimed in from the back room.
“I may have played them here on speakerphone,” he admitted.
“Okay,” David said, pushing forward. “Can I just get the paperwork and then I’ll just—”
“The good thing about the messages,” Patrick said confidently, “was that I was able to get enough information to fill out your forms.” He handed David his completed forms.
“Oh, wish I could remember,” David replied.
“It’s a good idea, your business,” Patrick said sincerely. “Rebranding local products and crafts. It’s very inventive.”
“And I like the name: Rose Apothecary,” he smirked. “You know, it’s just pretentious enough.”
“Would we call that pretentious or timeless?” David said, slightly defensive.
“So I’ll call you when I hear something,” Patrick said before adding, “And hey, if I don’t get ahold of you, I’ll just leave a message.”
“Okay. Thanks,” David said bitterly.
“Ciao!” Ray said cheerily from the back room. Patrick could tell David regretted saying that in the voicemail by his pursed lips. David slowly turned and exited the house without another word.
Patrick couldn’t stop smiling.