|exas indeed. The Lone Star State, home of Wacos and astronauts, presidents and rogues..." Odette paused to spit out the window of the car. "...oil wells and failed S&L's. They've got it all. The question is, where do we begin?"
"That's what I asked you, sister of mine." Hennie wrapped her arms around herself to ward off the cool evening air. "You said there's something important there, something special. It's all starting to sound a little like "2010". You know, when the old wrinkled up Kier Dullea tells Roy Scheider in that tremendously breathy voice, "...something wonderful is going to happen." So what are we looking for in Texas?
"What for? It's a dusty old town with a dusty old memorial, dusty old missions, and dusty old people. What could possibly be there that would interest us decidedly undusty gals?" Hennie stared across the car at her sister. "And besides, it godawful hot there."
Odette kept her eyes on the road as they roared through the South. "I’m not sure yet." Odette began to think about her wedding day, how Perry had rented the Boblo boat on the Detroit River. It carried the whole wedding over to Boblo Island. That was a strange, magical, manic day, Odette thought. She’d almost gotten sick when she leaned on the railing of the boat and admired the dusk soaked Motor City floating by. Floating by along with the city was an open bologna sandwich. Odette didn’t know why, but her gag reflex shot off like a gun. After she’d stemmed the tide of bile she laughed to herself and waved goodbye to the sandwich.
"I hope you’re thinking about our purpose for going to San Antonio?" Hennie turned sideways in the bucket seat of her Honda and watched Odette drive.
"I was thinking about my wedding day."
"The first one or the second?"
"The first one of course. Marrying Cyrek was for love." Odette fished through her purse that sat between them and pulled out a cigarette. "I only married Perry because I knew I’d get swept away. What I hadn’t figured on was crashing into that emotional wall of recrimination and jealousy. Ouch."
"I often wonder if I’ll ever marry for love?" said Hennie. The sisters laughed easily. "Do you miss Perry?"
"Some things about him I do. We had a lot of great times. They were all jammed into a little over two years, but they were really good adventures. I miss that high-life style of living; the endless parade of money across our path; the tawdry, down in the dirt carousing and carrying on. I especially miss getting thrown out of hotels and restaurants. It was such an out of control environment. ‘It’s my happenin’ and I’m freakin’ out.’"
"Those were good times. Realistically though, at some point they had to come to an end."
Odette straightened up in the seat and tossed her cigarette out the vent. "Oh, I’m glad they came to an end. I don’t need that type of fast paced action for extended periods. I had my so-called ‘wild time.’ I felt I wanted to get serious about my life and headed in the right direction."
"Which, by the way, If I understand you correctly, sister of mine, is San Antonio?" Hennie pulled down the visor and checked her lipstick.
"That’s right Hennie gal. There’s a mystery brewing in that old cowtown that I think is imperative we solve. The karaoke singer mouthed the words, ‘remember the Alamo,’ and I can’t disappoint her."
"Could we stop at a liquor store? I want to start drinking," said Hennie.
Odette thought about Hennie’s drinking. It had occasionally spiraled out of control, but for the most part Hennie kept it from total chaos. The drunken phone calls, filled with weeping and shouting and hatred had pretty much come to an end. Odette felt ready for come what may. "We need to find a motel for the night. Would you look on the map for the next nearest town or village or whatever they have out here in the middle of nowhere. I could use a cold beer myself."
The two women pulled off I-35, on the southern side of Austin, about 80 miles outside of San Antonio. They stopped at a liquour store around the corner from the Red Roof Inn, picked up a six-pack of some silly micro-brew and two nips of Johnny Walker Red. Settling into their hideously appointed motel room near the ice machine, Hennie unpacked her one bag and placed her clothes neatly in a dresser. Odette watched her sisters’ precise ministrations with wonder.
"You’re the only person I know that does that," said Odette.
"What?" asked Hennie. "I always put my clothes away. And like you’re real normal when you go through all the drawers in the room looking for whatever’s lying around."
Odette had moved over to the desk and was preparing to begin the opening of drawers. "How did you know I did that?"
"I have traveled with you before. You don’t think anyone notices you doing it." Hennie left out a black pair of leggings and a t-shirt that she scooped up from the bed. She grabbed a beer and said, "I’m going to shower and have a few beers. See you in a few." She boldly made her way across their suite and into the bathroom.
Odette grabbed a beer and shoved her blue leather, blown-up version of a doctors bag off her bed. She reached into it and brought out a worn paperback, "Prophet of Death: The Mormon Blood Atonement Killings" and tossed it behind her. Odette scooted herself onto the bed and reached over to the night table for the remote control. She got her props adjusted and at the right distances, turned on the TV, popped the top off the beer and channel surfed.
Thoughts of Perry came flooding in. Was he really dead? Odette was puzzled by her reminisces. She cared more than she’d believed she would; actually felt an empty space within herself. She and Perry had never been particularly close in or out of their relationship. It was like those roads you see all over New England and New York that say, "Road under repair. Pass at your own risk. State not held responsible." Neither of them paid much attention to the destruction they were creating. Neither really blamed the other. It ran its hectic course and came to a grinding halt. Perry came to her that night in Barbados with all his truths. That moment felt so right for Odette that she too cleansed herself of the stench their marriage had become; revealed to him all the men and the few women who’d bedded with her the last year they were together. They unburdened themselves as though exposed to radiation and needing to scrub their emotions raw.
When it was all over Odette felt better about Perry than she had in a long time. She hoped he felt better about her too. They parted on friendly terms, but when she moved back to the states they pretty much lost touch with each other. There was the odd holiday cards he always sent, but there weren’t many phone calls, and Perry didn’t have e-mail as he jetted about spending his family’s fortune.
Odette didn’t hear the shower turn off, or hear her sister return from the bathroom, she was completely lost in thought, holding her beer and a cigarette in one hand and the remote control in her other.
"This is how you watch television," said Hennie, "a beer, a smoke and the remote?"
Stubbing out her cigarette and placing the beer on the bedside table, Odette rose from the bed and tossed the remote down. "I was just thinking that I should probably take a shower too."
"Bathroom’s all yours, sister of mine." Hennie said as she jumped onto her bed and bounced around a while trying to get comfortable, adjusting the pillows behind her.
"Thanks Hennie," Odette said, "I won’t be long, then we should get a good night’s sleep. I fear we’re having a busy day tomorrow."
[End of Installment Four]