TWO COPS CARS PULL IN OFF the frontage road as I’m walking across the parking lot towards Applebee’s. The hostess is dark and tiny, and seats me in a booth. Her restaurant is very nearly empty. A couple of families sit together in one corner, a fistful of boozehounds are bellying up to the bar.
The policemen – four of them – walk in right behind me. They don’t wait for the hostess but seat themselves at a table in the window from where they can watch their cars.
I suppose they might be deputies or troopers. American law enforcement puzzles me. Whatever they are, they flirt with the hostess. My waiter flirts with me. It’s fun but going nowhere, he’s ten years younger than me. The hostess has marvelous green eyes.
The law enforcement officers – whatever kind they are – don’t give me even a second glance. Ordinarily, I’d be insulted but tonight I’m too busy being relieved. No matter how badly people are looking for me in Europe, so far I’m no one over here. All the same I really must see to my hair done.
“Would you like a dessert?”
I check the time. It’s getting late and I’ve had precisely no exercise since I left Barcelona. “No, but thank you. Just a coffee, please.”
Something happens somewhere and the cops leave in a rush. “Tell Clyde we’ll settle the check this time tomorrow.”
The hostess holds the door for them and they peel out of the lot like the end of the world was coming up fast behind them.
“Bar fight,” the waiter says.
“No, thanks. Just the coffee.”
The hostess laughs – at least she got the joke. “Lady was just messing with you, Tommy.”
“Oh.” He reddens and walks off, leaving the delicate little Hispanic girl to give me my check and collect my money.
“A bar fight?” I ask her with a smile. “That’s where your customers went?”
“Yeah. One of them has a cousin has a bar on the other side of town.”
“Sounds like someone picked the wrong place to pick a fight in.”
She returns my smile. “Pretty much.”
There’s a woman in her thirties checking in at my motel when I walk through the lobby and head towards the stairs. Her hair is jet black and she’s made up like a vampire – heavy eyeliner and shimmering purple eye shadow, maybe a little glitter. It’s a look Emily would never even consider. Maybe Sally Miller should give it a try.
In bed, naked, I spread my legs and search for inspiration. The vampire at reception? The little Hispanic girl? The eager young waiter? The couple from Cadillac Ranch?
Unable to make a decision, I drift off unfulfilled.