21 A Little Get-Together
Sheila’s plane dropped down into Salt Lake. I wish I could have gotten a flight tomorrow; like I need an extra night in Pocatello. Plus the only motel she’d been able to find was some crazy old place called the Hell’s Half -Acre Lodge. The rest of the town was sold out. Grand National Rodeo at the Spud Dome and Childhood at the Spud Palace. Spuds!
The divorce papers were in her carry-on. She’d have to hide out until tomorrow night. Right before he goes on I’ll surprise him. Won’t he be happy! She would meet secretly with Greg Horn. She‘d call his cell and they’d get together to talk. They’d shared glances over the years. I may make things interesting. I haven’t gotten laid in a while. Greg is so not like Ace. Greg gets things done. Ace is a weak dreamer; I’m sick of dreamers.
“Josh! Hi, Fumiko. Did you guys have a good flight?”
“As good as three drinks could make it. Fumiko showed me her catalog, she’s really brilliant.”
“Fumiko, aren’t you ashamed to be corrupting our youth? Hey, let’s get out of here. Salt Lake gives me the creeps.”
They jammed their bags around Mr. Bigg’s crate in the back and pulled away from the curb just before a stunning redhead came through the sliding doors out onto the sidewalk.
Where’s the shuttle to the rental cars? Thought Sheila.
“You ladies got the last two rooms. This place is packed for the next two nights, with the indoor roping trials and that band Childhood coming back; lotta folks here for that. You here for the ropin’?”
“No, we’re just passing through on the way to Montana.”
“Well, if you’re looking for fun, the place to be tonight is at the Big Potato. Right down the street. All them cowboys are gonna be there. They’d be real happy to se a couple of girls like you. Heck, I’ll be there. Loco and the Weeds are playin’ tonight if you like country music.” Elrod adjusted his clip-on tie. Damn thing. I ain’t made for ties.
Don’t even bother fantasizing about it, spudboy, thought Ella. “We’ll think about it.”
“You’re in five- fifteen and sixteen. Top floor; see the whole town from there.”
“I’m sure. What room is Joey Lowe in?” Said Jas.
Elrod checked the computer.” I don’t show a Joe Lowe.”
“How about a Jack Dupp?”
“Okee dokee, I got a Mr. Dupp in four-fifteen, right below your room.”
“Thanks, maybe we’ll see you at the Big Potato.” Just to be heartless and cruel, Jas winked at the plowboy behind the desk.
Sure enough, Jas and Ella could see most of Pocatello from their windows. The hotel was perched on a hill above the east side of town. The big hills loomed up to the west, with the town below. To the north stretched out the wide Snake River Plain. In the hazy distance they could just make out the big snowy ranges across the valley above Arco.
“The Big Potato?” laughed Ella.
“Cowboys can be fun, but you have to watch it or they get rope you up when they’re drunk and take you home to show the folks!”
“Gee, Mr. Dupp, there were couple of girls asking about you a little while ago.”
“They tend to do that” said Joey as signed in. Jack Dupp.” What’s happening in this town tonight?”
“Like I told them, the Big Potato, right down the street. Steaks and country music. Ropers are in town. It oughta be a big night.”
”Sounds great”, said Greg Horn. “Any calls for Greg Horn?”
“Yes sir, Mr. Horn, and they’d be on your room answering service.”
The courtyard was full of rigs by the time Roberta got to the Hell’s half-Acre Lodge and Lounge. There were vans and VW buses, pickups and Toyota Corollas with mudflaps.
“There’s extra parking behind the cabins”, grinned Jerry. Man, it’s good to have some customers!
The cabin was pretty much as Roberta had imagined it would be: small and dark with a window unit heater/air conditioner and a thirteen-inch TV with a dial. There was a coupon for a free coffee at Tiny’s on Rte. 30 and two plastic cups next to the ice bucket. The queen-sized bed had a measurable dip in the middle. Not exactly a love nest, but it would do just fine.
She was a little nervous about seeing Ace again. Sometimes magic can’t be replicated, and they had had some real magic at her place. It had been six weeks now. Would they find it again, or would they have a clumsy fuck and a laugh and say goodbye? Her confidence was a little shaky. That’s what happens when you fall in love; you lose yourself. That’s why it feels so good; it’s all about the other person. But you leave yourself open to big pain when you let your fences go. Like that Alex Singer song.
Sun up to sundown
Lookin for places that I need to mend
I’m riding fences
But I wonder
Is it to keep you out or fence me in…
She lay down on the sway-back bed. Ringo hopped up and cuddled with her.
My fences are down right now, Ace. Don’t hurt me.
“Jeepers-creepers! That looks bad.”
“I told you. This data doesn’t lie.”
“I put out a release, but I had to tone it down because headquarters doesn’t want to scare people needlessly, with tourist season about to start in three weeks. So no one is paying it much mind. Besides, there’s that big implant story. That’s all they’re talking about on the TV and radio. ”
“Well, that is so stupid. This is important.”
“Well, they were impotent” Rick thought this was rather funny, but Sally frowned.
“People should stay away from hills. There are bound to be rock slides. There hasn’t been a good cleansing quake in thirty years.” she said.
“You just can’t get people to take notice. Maybe we should call it a terrorist plot.” Ranger Rick chuckled.
“Then they’d really ignore it!” said Sally.
Rick hopped in his truck and drove out of Jackson down towards Hoback Junction. The radio was playing an old song, Here Comes the Big One.
Here Comes the Big One indeed, he thought.
Fumiko ran to Harry’s arms in the lobby. “Herro, baby!” she whispered. Harry grinned ear-to-ear and did a Groucho with his eyebrows to Ace and Josh, who both laughed. Harry the Hebe really did look like Groucho.
“Are you hungry, Josh?”
“You know, right now I want to lie down for a second and then take a shower and then maybe get something to eat.”
“OK, I’ll run over to where Roberta is staying and then I’ll come back and get you and we’ll have dinner. Where’s the happening place for food nowadays? ”Ace said to Elrod behind the desk.
“The Big Potato, right down on Yellowstone.”
Ace called Roberta on his cell. “Hi, baby. I’m here.”
“Hi, Ace. I’m in cabin seven. Pull around the back, by my Subaru.”
Ace turned off at the Cowboy Devil sign and pulled around the back of cabin seven and parked behind a row of bushes. He turned off the Forerunner and looked at himself in the rearview mirror. Shit, I’m as freaked out as a schoolboy going on his first date. It’s Roberta, Ace; one of your oldest friends in this world. You have nothing to worry about. Your soon-to-be-ex-wife is two thousand miles away. Relax and enjoy this moment. He stuck a little pill in mouth and chewed it up quickly. Chewable Viagra. Just to be darn tootin’ sure.
He knocked on the cabin door. It was open. Ace let Mr. Biggs go in first. Ringo jumped off the bed and growled. The two dogs sniffed at each other for a moment, then started wagging their big tails. Roberta put her arms around Ace’s neck and kicked the door shut.
“God, Ace. I’ve missed you.”
Ace felt himself stiffen. Didn’t need that pill, did I?
Sheila pulled off of 30 at the blinkin’Cowboy Devil sign.
What a dump. I have to find something else. But right now, I need a nap. Jerry gave her the key, on one of those big diamond-shaped plastic key rings, # 8. She wiped it clean with a handi-wipe to get the cigarette smell off it. She parked her rental car in front of the cabin, the only space left in the courtyard. She stuck her face partway into number eight to see if it smelled too bad. It was passable for one night. The light was fading in the sky. Jerry had turned the lights on for the old sign: He’ s a f acre ge-ge, blink, blink, blink.
A couple in number seven was going at it. Sheila could hear the bed thumping against the wall and soft groans, both male and female. It made her horny for a second, but then she quickly became irritated. Some people! She lay down and closed her eyes.
How could I forget my toothpaste, oh well. Josh had one of the tiny complimentary tubes from the front desk. As he stepped out of the elevator on floor five he practically knocked down two gorgeous girls, one blonde and one brunette.
“Excuse me!” he said smiling. Wow, who would expect this in Pocatello!
The blonde looked hard at him. Josh felt himself beginning to blush.
“Do I know you?” She said.
“I don’t think so.” Quick, don’t be an idiot, Josh.” Uh…Are you from New York?”
“L.A., but I went to Tisch five years ago.”
“Oh, really? So did I. Metro Theater Company.”
“I was with Experimentlism Theater.”
“Paul Rozelle. Maybe we went to parties together. Did you know Lita Thornsby? “
“Lita? She was my freshman suitemate!”
“I’m Josh.” He stuck out his hand, which she took gently, “Josh Jones.”
“Josh Jones, like in Ace Jones’ son? We know Ace from L.A.”
“You’re kidding! You know my dad? He never tells me the good shit…er.., pardon my french!”
“I’m Ella and this is Jas.”
“Hi Jas. I should pay more attention to my old man’s career, I guess. Did you come up here for the gig?”
“We’re just two girls on a road trip. We’re going the Big Potato to scare some cowboys, “said Jas, “want to come?”
“Uh, like, yeah, but my dad’s coming back to pick me up. Maybe we’ll go there, too. Actually, though, I have to admit cowboys scare me!” Josh laughed.
”We’ll protect you.” said Jas.
“We’ll see you there?”
“Ok, sure.” Holy shit! What a couple of babes! Ella gave him a quick smile as she and Jas got into the elevator. As the doors closed, she stuck her hand out to stop them.
“Josh.” She said.
Josh had reached the door of number fourteen, right next to Ella’s room..
“Are you as smart as your father?”
“My dad is smart? Children are always ten times smarter than their parents, you know that!” He laughed. The elevator door closed.
Jas laughed. “Well, maybe you don’t have date your dad after all!”
“Wow, what a handsome guy!” said Ella.
“He’s probably a waiter or a cab driver, El.”
“He looks like a rock star.”
“He isn’t bad looking, that’s for sure. He looks a little like his dad, but with a better chin.”
I wonder if he’s for real, thought Ella.