Note: Another snippet from the work-in-progress for NaNoWriMo. All the background you really need is that we’re on a cruise in the Caribbean…
I was on the Lido deck of the ship, and it became imperative for me to return to our cabin on a quest for something that I no longer actually recall. (This was always happening onboard, the quick runs to your cabin, many city-blocks away, because you didn’t want to lug your crap around with you all the time but you invariably had need of some such or other. It was a constant battle, and many people resorted to self-medication to help them deal with the agonizing trauma.)
I signaled to Terry and Tiffany that I would be back shortly. They signaled that it was most likely a free country, whatever country we might happen to be sailing through, and I could scamper at will without a need for the filing of travel reports. Besides, they were drinking, and this was far more important than any activity I might be contemplating.
Fine, whatever. I worked my way across the Lido deck, fighting upstream through a sudden onrush of women all wearing t-shirts proclaiming that this was the annual family reunion of some gaggle of apparently very loud people. They were all high-fiving and hollering “you GO, girl” and knocking things over and forever-warping the minds of innocent five-year-olds just standing in line for a corny dog. (What is it about matching outfits that make some people lose all respect for common decency?)
I got past that mess and reached the elevator bank, an area that is usually also packed with people, but was oddly deserted at this particular moment. (It was just me and a diminutive older woman who was leaning against a potted plant. She was addressing said plant as “Gloria”, rattling on about how Gloria had disappointed the family with her life choices despite all the money they had spent sending Gloria to strict Catholic educational institutions where young virgins are trained to never make their own choices. Gloria, for her part, had little to say on the matter, because she was, well, just a plant. All Gloria cared about was regular watering and an occasional scoop of nitrogen-enriched potting soil.)
I wisely chose to stay out of their conversation, because I learned long ago that talking to strangers will eventually lead to dissatisfaction and regret. Instead, I forced my eyes away from the Tennessee Williams drama and punched the “I want to be away from this woman, NOW” call button on the elevator. The button lit up, but in a weak manner that suggested I wasn’t worthy in some way, so I shouldn’t get too invested in the outcome.
Behind me, Addled Woman: “Why couldn’t you have married that nice Beauford boy? Yes, he had a bad leg, and he drank bourbon like a calf at a teat, and he probably wanted to do the same to our brother. But his family had money and he did offer you a ring the night of the White Bread Cotillion.”
Gloria, the plant: “…”
Addie: “But noooo, you thought you and your squeeze box deserved something better. And what kind of better did you end up with? Nothing!”
I punched the weakly-lit button again. And then a third time.
Addie: “Is it any wonder that our Daddy went to an early grave? He got over the trauma of Momma sleepin’ with the milkman, because we all know Momma never was right again after she fell off that horse. But you? You didn’t have a head injury to justify you sniffin’ around every lowlife in the French Quarter.”
Punch number four. Punch number five. Nothing. I hate elevators.
Addie: “And let’s not forget that time when the police called Daddy ‘cause they found you naked and ass-up in that alley over on-”
Okay, I’m done. Time for Plan B.
I run like one of Gloria’s no-good lovers, heading toward the nearest stairwell. I don’t want to take the stairs, because I’m a lazy American and I loathe physical activity, but there comes a time when you have to be brave and strong and actually take ownership of what’s happening in your life. Why this concept didn’t occur to me during the first 45 years of my existence does beg a question, but we really don’t have time for that. Addie might figure out that I’m no longer listening to her gin-soaked monologue and she could hunt me down.
Story behind the photo: A random shot of one of the gardens at the Alcazaba of Malaga. I couldn’t find a potted plant in my photo archives, nor an image of a boozy Southern matron with racist tendencies, so this will have to do…
Categories: Work In Progress