Room to Let
You need to be fed, clothed, and housed to have time for this much self-pity.
-- Susanna Kaysen in Girl Interrupted
Despina and Paul Peter eventually rent a boarding house room for one night a week on the weekends, available either Friday or Saturday, on the Sheriff's recommendation, deserting The Interrupted Rest entirely. The rooming house also comes recommended by Ellie of Ellie's Café, a well-known business maven who knows who’s who and what’s what around town. The landlady is described variously as a charming, but eccentric, widowed lady named Violet, Vi for short, with only one living child. The room she lets still has that child's things in it, but the shower works and is good and hot, even though it has to recuperate between uses. Paul Peter forks over the $15.00 weekly rent for their one night, showers until he hits cold water, then takes the jeep over to Ye Olde Watering Hole.
Waiting for the water heater to recover, Despina wanders around town, checking out the local laundromat, then the grocery. Guess I have to be content with window-shopping until payday, she thinks. Sure wish the library kept big town hours. If I call Alice, I know she'll open up for me, but then she'd probably feel obliged to stay there herself, and she's already opening on one of her free days, I'll bet without pay, when I bring in the Indian children on Saturday. That's all the guilt I can handle at one time!
Despina sees her landlady Violet out watering her copious garden as she returns empty-handed from her ramble.
"If you'd like to cook up something, I'll be glad to make my stove available. I don't generally use it in this heat. I don't get as hungry as I used to. Now that my boy isn't home all the time, I don't know why I keep putting in such a big garden."
"Oh, but the fresh food is SO much nicer than the stuff you can get in the grocery store."
"Yes, I agree, Despina. Their produce is pretty wilted by the time it gets to the Four Corners region."
"I'm a pretty early riser. If I flush, does it wake you, Vi, or anything like that?"
"Land sakes, no, child! Aren't you thoughtful! My room is on the other side of the house. There used to be a stairway down the middle of the house, but when my boy moved out, he closed it up and made the top of it into a closet so I could rent it out without fear of intruders. If I have the TV on, I don't hear a thing."
Proud of her house, Violet invites Despina in to show her around and acquaint her with the kitchen.
As they pass the utility room, Despina tells her, "Next time, I'll bring along a clean set of clothes to get into after I shower, and wash everything I own in the local laundromat. Washing them in the river leaves grit in everything. I don't mind my jeans, sweatshirts, and blouses so much, but it really rubs me when it gets in my underwear."
With an understanding chuckle, Violet commands, "After you shower and get into your pj's, come on down, and we'll wash up everything right here. You don't have to wait until next week!"
"Thanks, but I'd better wait. All I have with me is a skimpy see-through nightie. I might get arrested if I came down the stairs and around to the gate, then up the walk. I like the local lawman just fine, but I'd rather not have my next meeting with him be quite so traumatic! The first ones were memorable enough."
"Well, he recommended you to me, so I think no real damage has been done yet." Violet pats her hand companionably.
Despina gives a grimace, followed immediately by a self-conscious smile. "So far, I've been the sinned-against-innocent. I have no desire to switch to the siren-provoceur."
"I think we can preserve your reputation.” Opening a door in the middle hallway, Violet laboriously climbs to the top, taking a key off a chain around her neck. “Here, let's unlock that door at the back of the closet. Just move the clothing aside and come on down when you're ready."
"There's a switch at the top and the bottom. When the boys were young, they were afraid of the dark, so my husband, God rest his soul, installed a three way switch so they could take themselves up to bed."
Last updated 3/11/10 Changed Vi to Violet when not in conversation, corrected empty-handed. Worked in a lot more material that appeared later in Room To Let -- The Shower Incident. 3/10/10 Corrected window-shopping and sweatshirt. 2/15/10 Changed rooming to boarding; gave to gives. 2/1/10 Added “tells”; 7/25/08 -- added deserting The Interrupted Rest entirely; (2/7/04.)
Word Count: 768