Thursday, November 3, 2016


“Unfortunately, there is no mistake,” she said, closing the file.
“You can’t do anything? Anything?”
“I can call around, see if there is space at one of the courtesy hotels, but we’re booked.”
I looked at my friend. She shrugged. “Fine. We’ll stay. Two beds, right?”
“Your reservation is for a king.”
Celeste whispered, “It’ll be fine. A king bed is huge. Let’s stay.”
But I didn’t want the bed to be huge. I was going to be in the same room, the same bed as Celeste, for three days. Agony. 
“It’ll be fine. Chill. We’re going to have a good time here, I promise. You’ll pick up all sorts of new skills, meet lots of people. For me? Please?” Celeste smiled, the dimple in her right cheek peeking at me.
“Okay, fine. Let’s just do what we came here to do.”  The desk clerk handed us the keycards and vouchers for complimentary cocktails to compensate us for the inconvenience.
Great.  A conference I didn’t even want to be at because I’m not a writer or a poet or an agent or anything.  One room, one bed, and alcohol. Lots of alcohol. Celeste had picked up a few boxes of cardbordeaux, some white zinfandel, sangria and a case of some limited edition IPA for me.  Our plans were to get plastered together, but not to be plastered together. Man plans and gods laugh. Ha ha.
She put two six-packs and the white zinfandel in the mini fridge. “I’m going to donate the sangria and the cardbordeaux to the greater good, take them down to the office later,” Celeste said as she lined up her toiletries in the bathroom and hung her clothes in the closet.  “Two big towels, two hand towels, two washcloths.  That’ll be fine. I’m going to shower. Be a doll and get some ice, I don’t think five minutes in the fridge will do anything for it.”
I filled the ice bucket and returned to the sound of running water and singing. Celeste liked to sing in the shower.  She claimed it muffled her atonality, but that wasn’t true.  The atonality, not the muffling.  I loved listening to Celeste sing, in the car, on her porch, and now, in the shower.  It was a nice change from listening to her cry.
Celeste cries a lot. With me, anyway.  Guess I’m the shoulder of choice for this girlfriend did that, that boyfriend did this, her parents sucked, her job was meaningless, her friends were thoughtless, yadda yadda.  Singing was sweet.
I filled a large glass with ice and zinfandel, opened an IPA and drank.  The water stopped, but Celeste continued singing, something about a hippopotamus for Christmas, then segued into Rascal Flatts’ “Broken Road.”
And then she opened the door.
Celeste was naked except for the towel wrapped around her hair.  A pair of Dias de Los Muertos skulls surrounded by roses were tattooed over her mastectomy scars.  She smiled.
“I told you there were just enough towels. Oh good, I’m so thirsty. How ‘bout them Mets?”  She picked up the glass sipped, and winked at me.
It was going to be an interesting three days.

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