Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Snowed In 4

After a few deep breaths, I returned to the table. Mr. Henry took a large bite of the chicken. He finished chewing and then wiped his mouth politely. "This is really good. Maybe the best I've had. Lupe is talented. Why didn't you suggest this place for a meal?"

It stung. I chose places based on his agenda and listed preferences. Mexican was not on it and it was not near any of the places he was visiting. It simply would not have fit into his days. "I brought you here personally. I thought that was one step better," I retorted, trying to cover my frustration with humor and a smile.

"That it is," he said raising his glass to his mouth and taking a healthy drink. We finished our meals in silence. I kept trying to figure out where he could go. I tried a few more hotels to no avail, including The Park Place. Even they had booked all of the rooms, including the dignitary suite we had left. Jake, the young man behind the desk in the evening told me a couple of families opted to share the bill just so they had a place to stay.

Lupe returned to our table as we took the last few bites, mopping up the sauce with the remaining tortilla chips. "It was good Mr. Henry?"

"Very good. I was telling Sylvia it may be the best I've ever had. I can't believe she didn't recommend this place to me the first night I was in town." He smiled at Lupe and she played modest. I shrugged my shoulders.

"So, you are staying with Sylvia tonight I suppose?" I could have killed her in front of Mr. Henry. It would have been easy to drive the fork deep into her chest at that moment.

"Lupe, Mr. Henry and I..." Mr. Henry started laughing. It was a full laugh, taking up more space in the small restaurant than his imposing personality did in any of his meetings. It was thick and warm. It reminded me of my grandmother warming molasses before adding it to the batter of gingerbread cookies. The sweetness stayed with you long after the cookies had been devoured.

"Mr. Henry and I have not discussed the options," I said firmly once his laughter had subsided.

"Oh. Okay," Lupe said simply. She turned, taking our plates back to the kitchen for a quick wash.

"Sir, I have called every reputable hotel and some that I am not terribly familiar with. The storm has created havoc and their simply isn't anywhere for you to stay. I can offer you the guest room in my house. It's small, but warm and available. I could drive you to the airport as soon as Alan calls with the clear. I completely understand if you have other connections you would like to tap into. Just let me know who I can call for you." I hoped my offer sounded more genuine than it was meant.

"I don't know anyone in this town who I would enjoy staying with more. A clean room and warm bed sounds great. Thank you Sylvia. it is a very generous offer." I stood up quickly, banging my knee against the edge of my chair in my rush to get my coat. Tears sprung quickly. "Are you okay?" he asked, reaching out to offer to steady me.

"I'm fine. I'm fine," I said. "I am going to brush off the car and warm it up. Then we can head out. Do you mind waiting inside?" I asked.

"I'll just duck in back and pay for the meal," he said, reaching in his back pocket for his wallet as he stood.

"You can try, but she won't take it. She'll tell you family doesn't charge one another. Don't push too hard. You'll offend her pride and sense of family." With that, I turned and walked through the door and into the icy cold.

The snow had accumulated much more quickly than earlier. The flakes were very heavy and very wet. Before I had the windshield brushed off, I could feel the water trickling down the side of my face as it melted. My hair was saturated and beginning to freeze. I worked rapidly, stopping only to climb into the car to see how warm it had become and to call home. "Hi Alice. I am so sorry. I know it is late and the roads are bad. I am about 15-20 minutes away. Are the kids in bed? They are. Okay. Did you walk or drive over today? Did you put the car in the garage? Oh no, it's not a problem. I'm glad you did it. Can you pull it out of the garage just before I get there so I can pull straight in? No! Don't do it now. You'll have to wipe it off. Let's do this. I'll call you when I am just a few blocks away. You can just get in and leave. I'll be within sight of the house. The kids will be fine for that 30 seconds. No really, it's okay. All right. I'll talk to you soon then. Bye..... and Alice, thank you. You have been a life saver this week. I couldn't have pulled this job off without you. I promise to split my bonus 50/50. Okay. Bye."

I hung up the phone and hummed "I Wanna Be Sedated". The car was warm. My kids were in bed, probably sleeping. Somehow, I was going to have to explain Mr. Henry's presence to them tomorrow. I didn't get to have dinner or read to them tonight. Another failed promise that I can't make up to them. I hit the steering wheel and then went to get Mr. Henry. He was waiting by the door, Lupe not far behind him. "Gracias por todo!" I called to her, blowing her a kiss as I turned to escort Mr. Henry to the car.


  1. I have no clue where this is going to end. I am really glad that this posted right after I finished the last one.

    Lets find time to go to La Hacienda!

  2. I'm torn on which direction to send it in. Romance? Murder? Adventure? Combination? What is your thought? (And I am finally getting to the point i actually wanted to write. Now I'm just not sure that is what I want to do with it anymore.)