The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 135
Monday, July 4. Amboy Road. The last time I was this far east on Amboy Road was when Tim and I used it to sort of backdoor our way to Utah. Time before that was to visit a meteor crater near Amboy, the town. “Time before that,” I say to Melissa, who’s driving us out to inspect the house for rent, “I actually met Laura.”
Melissa: Really? She’s such a doll, isn’t she?
Me: Yeah, but it was like, 20 years ago. It was a walking trip. All the way from 29 Palms to Amboy. Then to Ludlow. Stopped into The Palms for water.
Melissa: Weird how shit goes around. And now you’re potentially renting a house from her.
Me: Yeah. Hey, thank you again for all this.
Melissa: Oh I’m happy to do it.
It was hard to believe Melissa was 49. The mother of four grown kids. There wasn’t a wrinkle on her face. Not anywhere. Not even when she’d smile. “Maybe,” I speculated, “it’s because you have this… boundless energy. And also because you never sleep, you say.”
Melissa: Ha! Yeah, that, and a really good wrinkle cream.
There were two houses on the five acre property. And, I noted, not a highway sound or any other sound after we’d parked and stepped out of her car—a nice, new, double cab, luxury Dodge pickup with metal “for sale” signs and a hammer lying flat in the bed.
Bob’s house—Bob was Laura’s other tenant—wasn’t right next door, but maybe 30 feet away, separated by a low, chain-link fence that defined a sand and creosote bush backyard the size of the one I currently rented. And off that, attached to the house, was a large, shaded, brick and concrete, partially enclosed patio.
Melissa: Oh, here’s the key. (Looks at me) Ready?
Jesus. A REAL kitchen. WITH dishwasher. Like I’d ever use a dishwasher. REAL tile floors. Carpeted living room. Fireplace. Windows everywhere. All with Japanese style, floor length, roll up/roll down bamboo blinds. Same floor tiles in the vanity and bath.
Melissa: (In full real estate agent mode) Hm. Ceiling’s a little funky…
Just then Bob knocks on the backdoor, wearing a labcoat. We introduce ourselves. Yeah the labcoat thing’s a little odd but Bob, turns out, is like the most articulate gentleman, one of the smartest, nicest guys I’ve ever met. A musician, he says.
Melissa: Oh, wow, really? What do you play?
Bob: Harmonica and trombone.
We giggle, Melissa and I, politely. “OK,” she says, unable to let it—not to mention the labcoat thing—slide, “well, you know, that’s no weirder than me and my photos of dolls smoking cigarettes, or my ‘Dinosaurs with Guns’ series, I guess.”
“No, certainly isn’t!” I hear Bob laugh as I step outside, dial Laura’s number and say:
“Sold. Or rented, I mean. I love it. Everything about it.”
Laura: Oh that’s wonderful!
Guided by pure magnetism and emotion I go back in, find Melissa and—god, those eyes—I embrace her, unable to let go.
“You did it,” I whisper.
She holds me closer, squeezes, strokes my neck, arm, tiny kiss on ear, then softly says: “We have to go. I’m showing another property in… (Breaks it off, looks at watch) Oh. Shit. 20 minutes!”