Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Eight Murders In One Month
After three hours of pretending to file student loan applications, I tell my boss that I have cramps and need to go home. It's the perfect excuse because they can come on at any time and disappear just as quickly. Nobody's doing much anyway because the summer drains all energy from the days, leaving the nights for mayhem. During the worst heat wave in the 70s, Mineral Wells had eight murders in one month. Things seems slower now, but who knows how long that will last?
One of the secretaries is reading people's tea leaves and telling them the future from the shapes the leaves make. You have to drink the tea, turn your cup upside down, twirl the saucer three times, and see what have images formed. As much as I want my future, I can't stomach the taste.
So, I meet my best friend Stacey at El Matador. She doesn't eat, but if you can look past that, she's the perfect lunch companion. El Matador sits between the Salvation Army and JoAnn's Fabrics in the Golden Triangle Plaza, a run-down strip mall next to the Baker Hotel, a huge building that used to be a spa for celebrities many many years ago. It's strange to imagine this town being a place that people wanted to visit instead of a place in which the unlucky managed to get stuck.
"Can't you get rid of the damn thing? Let him deal with his own snake for a while," Stacey says. Tired from the heat, she slumps in her chair. This makes her look like a little girl, even wearing what she calls her "Lois Lane" outfit for her job at the Mineral Wells Index. One of her responsibilities is to take pictures of car and boat accidents, something she likes for the metaphorical value, if not the actual activity itself. The actual work pains Stacey because her last boyfriend died in a motorcycle accident on Highway 281 a few years ago, and she can't see an accident without thinking about that one.
She shakes grains of rice off her fork and puts about three up to her mouth. If she ever ate everything that was on her plate, it would take hours. I don't know how she does it. If something is good, I tend to want more even if it ends up making me sick in the end.
"I can't. He's counting on me." Two tables away, a group of boys make farting noises with their arms. I start to smile, despite myself.
"Don't those bastards ever die?" she asks.
"All I know is that I told Austin I would take care of him. He doesn't have any other options."
"That boy of yours ain't worth a kiss my ass," she says. She puts down her fork to slow down her eating. "You should sell the snake, take the apartment over the bookstore, and try to find a better job."
I suspect she doesn't like Austin because of his pornography obsession which I also find objectionable, but not for the same reasons. Last Valentine's Day, I took him to New Orleans to see Jimmy Buffet, running up my last credit card with any room on it. He didn't get me anything because he'd just ordered nearly a thousand dollars worth of porn off the Internet and was broke. We stayed at a hotel in Baton Rouge, where he confessed that he didn't know if he could ever tell me that he loved me. If this story has a happy ending, I'll be as surprised as you are.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I guess we're going to be here for a while. Best to get used to each other." Lou Reed
Drinking champagne suggestion: Gruet
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Birthday to my dear friend Robert, who all y'all (Texas use of plural) know as my ex-husband as identified in his thoughtful comments every now and again! Hope it's a great one!