Dude finished writing his first song, put it in the mail to license it, and started writing a second song.
Peter had completed several more paintings--since the somewhat acrimonious house meeting--and had finally gone to bed, exhausted, leaving his last painting on the easel.
Regina sent her latest fantasy book off to a publisher, and began her first science fiction book.
Bill built and sold a few more pieces of furniture,
Lou resumed her programming,
and Derek caught and sold a lot of fish (and some frogs).
Alice cleaned the kitchen,
then she and Kelly tried out a couple new recipes,
before settling down to watch the Cooking Channel for ideas.
Kelly (who didn't yet know about the new house--Derek was trying to keep that a surprise) was very enthusiastic about the prospect of finding a culinary job the following day, when the Utopians' two-week residency requirement would be up. "Won't it be fun to be working in a real restaurant?" she asked Alice happily.
"Yeah!" Alice replied. "I never in my life thought I'd be excited about getting a job before this."
"But we're probably both going to have to start as dishwashers, you know," advised Kelly.
"That's okay," said Alice, "all I want is for someone to give me a CHANCE!"
By mid-evening, household funds were $51,396--or $6,424.50 per Utopian, and $12,849 per couple, which would really help out Derek and Kelly.
A couple hours later, Regina had finished her sci-fi book and mailed it off to the publisher, and was tending her garden. Bill--needing a break after woodworking all day--went outside to keep her company.
"Geez," he observed, "THAT looks parched!"
"I know, right?" Regina answered grimly, getting up and moving to the next plant. "I've been writing all day, so I kind of neglected the garden. I was finishing another book to try to make more money for Derek and Kelly."
"Me, too," said Bill. "I think I made 5 dining tables and 1 bathtub today, though frankly I've lost track. And my back is killing me."
"They're worth it, though," Regina said, kneeling down again. "They're SUCH a good couple--they actually give me hope!"
" 'Hope' for what?" Bill inquired.
"Oh, you know," Regina replied, "that there's someone for EVERYONE."
Bill wondered what Regina was getting at.
"Like Alice, for example," Regina said.
"Sooooo," he said, slowly, "what happened with Alice--two weeks ago when we all met? You girls have been kind of vague about the circumstances."
"Short story," sighed Regina--who (since she was a talented writer) never belabored a point--"Alice has apparently been a mildly functional alcoholic since her teens, she's never held a job, she goes from man to man to man to man to man, and was most recently being kept by a married guy, till his wife found out about it and threatened to divorce him and take half his stuff--and 'That Guy' has a LOT of assets. So he dumped Alice--unceremoniously--and she felt she had no choice but to get out of town. She headed out onto the open road with no real destination, and her car broke down outside the Blue Velvet Lounge, she called Kelly, and Kelly called Lou and me."
"Whew!" Bill exhaled. Regina, clearly tense, weeded furiously for a while in silence. Bill decided to help out, as opposed to just standing there, uncomfortably, like a bump on a log.
After a while, Bill ventured another question. "So, I guess you and I are the ONLY ones who won't be looking for regular jobs tomorrow," he said.
"You got that right!" Regina responded.
"What're you planning to do, then?" Bill asked.
"I was thinking of getting a small place with Alice," Regina told him. "She has a lead from another bartender on a couple places in Oasis Springs. She'd be gone for hours a day at her dishwashing job, so I'd have peace and quiet to write. And frankly it's been a little noisy here--I think I'd be much more productive in a quieter house."
She got up to water, and Bill sprayed for bugs.
"So," he said, sounding disappointed, "my endless hammering is too loud for you?"
"Well, kind of," Regina admitted. "But you DO fish a lot, so at least it's quiet when you're out doing that!"
"You really care about Alice," Bill observed.
"Yup, I do," said Regina. "So does Kelly. But since I think she and Derek are getting together, and Derek doesn't seem to like Alice that much...." Her voice trailed off.
"I don't think Derek DISLIKES Alice," Bill countered.
"I know," said Regina. "But he's clearly got some perfect 'master plan' in mind for himself and Kelly, and I doubt he'd take Alice in--even though Kelly would probably do it if she had her own place."
"I'm not sure Kelly realizes that about Derek--that he wouldn't take in a friend she really cares about," Bill said.
"And," Regina said pointedly, "if you're thinking of marrying someone, you REALLY should know their character and values...."