Louise

Our friends offer us their house again, this time for three weeks, while they are in New Zealand.  Tom can’t miss any more of the semester and says to me, “Why don’t you drive down by yourself? You can get some serious writing done.”

Three weeks of sun, sea, and solitude.  Three weeks of writing.  I have had my own rented writing cottages, and they are productive places.  I call my son, Sam, who gets the best deals, bar none, when traveling, and ask him to find me a hotel in Primm Valley, Nevada, about a half hour beyond Las Vegas. “Something cheap,” I say. “Do your magic.”

He books me a room for Tuesday night at the Buffalo Bill Casino (across the highway from Whiskey Pete’s) for SIX DOLLARS. Eat your hearts out, New Yorkers.

I drive to St. George, stopping once for gas and Corn Nuts.  I sing in the car to both YOU’VE GOT MAIL cd’s, a mix of “mom” songs that Charles gave me. It includes Lee Majors singing that song about being a stunt man for that old TV show that the eight-year-old Charles and I used to watch in secret, because there was a “no TV” rule in place. I sing “Wake up Little Suzie,” with the Everly Brothers, “Momma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” with Willie Nelson, “Hey Jude,” with the Beatles, and, I’m sorry to say, “Chances Are,” with Johnny Mathis. I sing with ACDC:  “I Feel Safe in New York City.” I sing with a tortured exuberance that is only possible when one is alone and pretending brilliance.  I drink Coke and eat Corn Nuts.  I am happy.  I am alive!  I’m single.  I’m independent.  I am Sarah.  I am Lisa. 

Then I begin brooding about all those Dateline shows on serial killers.  I remember one lurid old guy in prison, with about three teeth in his head, revealing to the interviewer how he would drive from state to state looking for single women in broken-down cars or women hitchhiking. He raped and killed them, and I don’t think I’m mistaken in saying that he enjoyed describing it.  I also remember reading that story in ALTMAN’S TONGUE by Brian Evensen, where a truck-driving, insomniac, serial killer stalks a young girl in a VW Beetle with a monkey tree in the passenger seat.  He hides under her parked car with a tire iron, and when she returns from the restaurant, he breaks her ankles as she unlocks the door.  He tapes her mouth and dumps her in the back of his Mack truck.  I saw SILENCE OF LAMBS.  La la la la la—don’t think about this right now, Louise—la la la la la. 

I shop in Barnes and Noble for a novel on CD:  STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova, about a woman, a professor of cognitive studies at Harvard, who gets early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. My mother had Alzheimer’s.  Maybe I’ll get it.  This worry replaces the serial killer obsession. 

It is slow going past Las Vegas, and just as I think I’m driving into Buffalo Bill’s, I’m actually navigating back onto I-15 heading the wrong way.  I have to drive 11 miles before I can turn around.  I take one suitcase out of the trunk and check in.  I get to my room.  In a few minutes someone knocks.  A man’s muddled voice says he has brought me my green tea.  I’ve seen LAW AND ORDER, how men pretend to be waiters bringing tea and then knock you down when you open the door to ravage and murder you.  I don’t answer it.  Soon there is a louder knock.  This time I look through the peephole.  It looks like two policemen.  I’ve also seen that LAW AND ORDER, where two men pretend to be policemen, and then when you open the door, they knock you down, and, well, you know—they have their way with you.

I take courage and open the door.  “Hello, M’am, we are hotel securi-TEA.  Your husband is worried that you haven’t arrived yet.” 

“I was just about to call him.  Thank you.” 

I call Tom.  “Where have you been?  I’ve been worried to death.”  I smile.  If a toothless serial killer caught me, Tom would come after me, and he wouldn’t stop until he found me. 

Later, after I’ve put on my pajamas, I realize the sleeping pills are I the car.  If Tom were here, he would run out and get them.  I’m too tired to dress.  I lie awake all night, writing blogs in my head.  All of them better than this one! 

And today, when I walk into this beautiful house, on this bright, summer-like day, I miss Tom, and three weeks of solitude ahead feels a little more like loneliness. 

NOTE: 

If you want see Anne’s prom dress, go to fivecrows.blogspot.com. 

Note II:  I don’t know if I can get the big hunking PC in this house to do my bidding. I may be invisible for a while.  Maybe Tom will read the blogs to me.  

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