Monday, March 17, 2008

Home Away from Home, Part Two

C.L. Beck
© 2008

I repacked our belongings and loaded everything onto a luggage cart. Tossing Corky Porky Pie on top, I pushed-pulled the thing to the hotel’s elevator and rode down to the seventh floor, where a freshly cleaned room awaited us.

Except when I got there, the room was only half-ready and the maid cleaning it spoke little English. . . .


With a lot of hand signals, the maid let me know she’d finish the room in a bit. However, what would I do until then? I couldn’t very well just go out for a cup’a Joe. There were two reasons for that. First—I drink hot chocolate. Second—short, fat dogs are not allowed in Starbucks.

Corky and I paced the halls, trying not to pressure the maid so much that she forgot to do something really important … like cleaning the room. When she finally finished, I pushmi-pullyued the baggage cart through the door. It felt a bit cool in there, but at least the noise of last night’s whining elevator was noticeably absent. I looked at the dog and he looked at me. “Ahhh, finally a decent place,” I said, flopping back onto the bed. Corky showed his agreement with the flying leap of a gymnast, and a four-point landing on my chest. All 35 pounds of him.

Darkness closed around me. A writer who wishes to live to write another day needs oxygen! I rolled the pooch off my chest and inhaled air into my flattened lungs. My vision cleared and I sat up. Now was the ideal time—once and for all—to put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be.

Just then, the lock on the door clicked and Russ walked in, done with his workshops for the day. And that’s when I noticed the room was cooling, like a fat strawberry in an ice cream churn.

I walked over to the thermostat. Ah, ha! The heat was off. I clicked it on. The fan whirred like a cricket on a midsummer’s night—no banging, no clunking, no rumbling floor. Russ and I congratulated each other on our good fortune. A hotel heater that worked quietly . . . I could only compare it to finding a bottle of vintage, port wine. Only I wouldn’t really know about wine, for two reasons. First—I drink Kool-Aid. Second—I like having a temple recommend.

Now, certainly, my writing time had come. I hurried to the desk and turned on the computer. The chair—one of those old-fashioned, square-backed, never-seen-a-roller-on-its-legs-in-its-life type—sat just a little too far away for me to reach the keyboard easily.

Sliding my fingers under the seat, I hopped the chair up and forward.

It could have been a thought on the breeze that warned me, but I’m thinking it was the intense pain that conveyed the message. I’d placed my fingers between the upholstered plywood seat and the chair’s frame. And I couldn’t pull them out because I was sitting on that seat.

Despite the fact that writers usually have a good vocabulary, the only word that came to mind was **@^%#@!#&**! Good thing the cold room had slowed my brain, or I might have come up with a real word.

I jerked my hand free and shook it, on the idiotic theory that shaking an injured part distracts the nerve endings. As I did, I stepped in front of the whirring heater. Air, the temperature of an ice cube, poured from its vent. The blast gave me goose bumps and turned my blood to slush—but there was an upside to it. At least my fingers were too cold to hurt anymore.

The downside was that it was now evening. The last thing we wanted was to spend the night sleeping in a room the temperature of a meat locker. However, we wanted even less to spend the night in the company of a maintenance man, banging away on the heater, interrupting our rest and relaxation.

What to do, what to do. . . .

(Last week I said you’d hear about the slip-and-fall in the bathroom this week. But …umm…I couldn’t overlook telling you about my war wound, could I? I promise, next week we’ll go to the bathroom.)

What books C.L. recommends:
Life is Like Riding a Unicycle by Shirley Bahlmann
Publishing Secrets by LDS Storymakers (BJ Rowley and others)
Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne & Dave King

C.L.’s other work:
Newspaper Column
Ensign Magazine, Dec 2007-Q&A
2007 League of Utah Writer's Award-Historical Fiction

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