Table of Contents
Ye Olde Watering Hole
A person is only as big as the dream they dare to live.
~by that most widely quoted of all authors, poets, and composers: Anonymous
She sits alone with her $5.00 frost-textured pitcher of ice water and a matching tall, thin glass, but is no longer gulping the contents as she did, much to the well-hidden amazement of the clientele.
Nobody here realizes that I'm drinking ice water. They all think I'm chugging something alcoholic... She giggles in appreciation of the trick she is pulling on the bar goers, who are surreptitiously eying her between reordering drinks from Óscar, but are not yet presumptuous enough to approach.
Glancing about, she guiltily suppresses her giggle. That will appear tipsy to them. She straightens in her chair, watching the patrons interact with the bartender. They seem to be swilling mainly cervezas, ordered mostly in Spanish, and say the bartender’s name the Spanish way, she notes with interest.
Raising her glass yet again, she discovers it is empty. They also don't realize that I blew my last $5.00 in the world to acquire this mineral-laden beverage masquerading as pure water. She winces at the irony.
Slowly, the local lawman, who has been seated with his back to the wall at the first table inside the door, rises and approaches. Slightly tilting his head and wrinkling his brow, he requests permission to join her. She nods her acquiescence.
Doesn't he cut a fine figure of full-flowered manhood, now?
"Óscar, otro vaso, por favor," she requests of the bartender, her eyes never leaving the sheriff's.
Óscar's eyes widen briefly, then return to normal. He turns, choosing a clear 8 ounce plastic restaurant-style water glass from the store of upturned glasses lining the bar mirror, flips up the counter, sets the glass in front of the sheriff, then pours slowly and tidily right up to the brim, returning the pitcher to the table with a satisfying thud.
Protecting the sheriff's reputation? she wonders.
The sheriff studies the brim-full liquid before him. "I came over here to suggest that you were hitting that sauce pretty hot and heavy, and might best slow down till you get to your destination of...." A lifted hand invites her to complete his sentence.
Raising both eyebrows, she smiles broadly, "Maybe you'd better join me before we get intimate."
"I don't drink on duty."
"How admirable,” Despina snips, irked that the local lawman seems to have decided she merits his prompt and continuous investigation. "But sheriffing in this heat must be hot, sweaty work. Besides, you don't know that I'm not from a culture that believes that refusal to drink with someone is a refusal of their friendship. Surely just entering the only air-conditioned building for miles around doesn't indicate criminal intent."
She nods again toward the glass. "Trust me."
His eyes lock on hers. Suggestively, she wiggles her nose, then meaningfully eyes the glass. He follows her gaze, then positions his nose above the glass, lowering it by imperceptible increments until he can sniff the contents without appearing to from afar. He glances up, then takes a closer sniff. "Water?"
Admiring the cleft of his dimpled chin and the outline of his square jaw against the blue of his uniform, she suggests coquettishly, raising one eyebrow in an arched look, "What else would I bolt so in this heat?"
An appreciative burst of laughter startles the other patrons into turning in their direction, instead of watching from the corners of their collective eyes. Saluting her, he, too, drains his glass and pours more, then relaxes in his chair, stretching his legs out into the aisle. "You must be the new school teacher." His baritone echoes through the cavernous room, clearly audible to all. Lifting his hat, he smoothes his hair, then replaces his hat.
"Guilty." Her near-whisper is for him alone.
The pitcher's contents soon disappear. "Óscar, another." Laying a fiver on the table, the sheriff eyes the others in the bar. They wilt under his gaze, returning to their own companions, or their glasses, which are NOT water.
"Weren't you supposed to arrive earlier in the day?"
"How'd you know that?" Despina frowns as she nervously twirls a curl around a finger.
"It's a very small town."
"I was supposed to meet a Native American..."
Tapping his index finger on the tip of his nose, he breaks in, "I wouldn't let one of our local Indians hear you call them by that disgustingly politically correct phrase if you expect to make friends around here."
The sheriff wrinkles his brow.
"An Indian at a cafe in town, but it was closed when I drove in. In fact, this is the ONLY place in town that appears open."
Helpfully, he says, "There's the Blissful Rest Motel next door," as he lifts his eyebrows and his hat, again smoothing his hair.
Her eyes widen in disbelief. "Is that an offer?" Her manner stiffens perceptibly. "No. I promised I would live ON the reservation, AMONG the Nat... err, Indians, and speak only Spanish as part of my employment contract."
Jerking erect in his seat, the sheriff’s words explode from his mouth. "On the reservation? ON THE RESERVATION?... WHERE on the reservation?"
All eyes again focus on her as the echo of his words dies.
"I really don't know. Some kind of teacherage, whatever that is.” Despina rubs the fingers of one hand over the tops of the other.
Mickey’s forehead wrinkles as he taps one finger against his nose. “I knew the male summer school teachers all have always lived out there, and one tough, older homesteading husband/wife duo from central Canada one year, but I never dreamed a lone, young female would try it…” His face smoothes out as he looks at Despina.
Shoving her fingers between each other to stop her nervous rubbing, Despina adopts a more patient voice. “I was supposed to meet someone at Ellie's Cafe who would, presumably, show me where." As his attitude softens, she again reaches for a curl to twine.
Thoughtfully, he considers her new information, his brows contracting. "Tom was in there until about 3:00. I thought that was a bit odd."
"Tom? That wasn't the name." Rattled, she releases her curl and grabs her purse, ransacking its insides with quick, nervous motions until she produces a wrinkled envelope.
"That your suitcase?" His blue eyes twinkle.
"No." She flattens the letter on the table, regarding it fixedly. "Yes," she says, stabbing her finger at a spot on the page before her. "It's John, not Tom."
"John?” raising his eyebrows expressively. “Juan NEVER comes to town. Never."
"Then why would he tell me to meet him at a cafe in town? That certainly doesn't make much sense.” Stabbing her finger at the paper, she continues. “It says right here, "Vamos a reunirnos al café de Ellie en la aldea de Broken Lance en la carretera 160, aproximadamente 150 millas de Flagstaff, al mediodía."
Again an explosive laugh booms from the sheriff, drawing every eye in the place. Even one towheaded drunk, whose head has been resting firmly on the table ever since she entered, looks up.
Leaning back again, he eyes her appreciatively. "You read Spanish right rapidly. I take it you came through Wolf Creek Pass, then!"
Embarrassed, she shakes her head no. Glancing around the room to avoid meeting the sheriff's eyes, she gasps in recognition as hers meet the blond's.
"Paul P.! Oh, my. Whatever is HE doing HERE? I didn't expect to have to deal with him until school started up again this fall!"
Following her gaze, the sheriff sees Paul Peter Sorenson squint at her, then grin and give a halfhearted wave in her direction. "Lo, Pina" he says, dropping his head to the table with a thud, as if it were too heavy for his neck muscles to support.
Upset, Despina thinks, When I decide that what I really need is a change of scene, not more vivid dreams, I would have to pick the one place in Arizona where MY EX-BOYFRIEND also works! Just my luck! I should've checked the name of the reservation, instead of just shrugging it off! But, then, he SAID he wasn't going to teach this summer.
"Hello to you, too," she whispers, way too softly for him to have heard even if he still had been awake by then.
"You know him from somewhere?"
1 Reference Despina’s dream on Oct. 21, 2000
Last updated 10/21/15 Changed gulping to chugging; until to till; Added "How admirable,” Despina snips, irked that the local lawman seems to have decided she merits his prompt and continuous investigation.; then relaxes in his chair, stretching his legs out into the aisle.; changed want to expect; added Jerking erect in his seat, the sheriff’s words explode from his mouth.; Despina rubs the fingers of one hand over the tops of the other.; Shoving her fingers between each other to stop her nervous rubbing, Despina adopts a more patient voice. ; As his attitude softens, she again reaches for a curl to twine.; Leaning back again, he eyes her appreciatively.; dropped the same as;
7/19/15 Changed that line the mirror behind the bar to lining the bar mirror,; HE to MY EX-BOYFRIEND;
3/8/10 Changed blonde to blond. 2/7/10 Added material about the men teachers living on the res.
2/5/10 Changed the passed out drunk to her safely passed out dead drunk ex (sydneydaile )
1/28/10 Added MY EX-BOYFRIEND per ? from Where'sMeKilt;
1/26/10 Added back a journal entry used originally right before this post that Where'sMeKilt found and questioned MANY references to in the surviving text. Also added , she notes with interest. and removed the red to my main journal so that the second critique is not skewed by Where'sMeKilt's reading of the material...
1/25/10 Reworked the drink ordering so that it is obvious that most of the people are using Spanish and Despina notes it. I am in awe of his observations!Upset, Despina thinks, and inserted missing tells to make it match my desktop copy.
12/13/08 Corrected Wolf Creek Pass -
9/13/08 added footnote to title referencing Despina’s Infamous Green Journal; 8/3/08 - added Pina, (7/7/08 - Changed ...but have not yet gained the temerity to approach. to are not yet presumptuous enough to approach. 1/5/06 - blonde, otherwise same as 8/29/04.)
Word Count: 1418, not counting footnotes.
Reading Level: 5.8
Sunday, August 26, 2001 11:50 p.m. (pandemo)