My mother wouldn’t like Jillian.
Jillian knows what she wants.
Excepting my mother, Jillian is the most stubborn woman I know.
Neither she nor I care what Mother might say.
Mother doesn’t know what Jillian brings to the table.
But I do.
I tried to forgive them, but they didn’t show up. I had to call their boss.
“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting” the robot said, “If you know your party’s extension please enter it at any time. For a company directory please press 7 followed by the pound sign. To leave a message in our general mailbox please press 314, followed by the star key, or wait for the beep.”
“To leave a message for Alberto press 101 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Diedre press 103 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Manny press 104 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Michelle press 107 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Rick press 108 followed by the star key. To leave a message in our general mailbox press 314 or wait for the beep.”
“Shit, who’s the boss?”
“Hey Alberto. Are you the boss? If you’re not the boss could you pass this message on to the boss? Please?
“You guys were supposed to paint my mother’s house green this week. It’s Friday and the house still looks kinda grey. It looks like it’s auditioning for a part in ‘Amityville Horror’. Can you guys call me back and let me know what’s going on? This is Delbert Dangerfield 313-555-1212. Thanks”
“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting. If you know your party’s ex…”
“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting. If you know your…”
“You have reached the general mailbox for Inner City Painting. Please leave your name, number and a brief message after the beep. We will get back to you as soon as possible.”
“This is Delbert Dangerfield. My number is 313-555-1212. Please call me back ASAP. I think you forgot to paint my mom’s house last week. Thanks.”
“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting. If you…”
“Hi, you’ve reached the desk of Diedre at Inner City Painting. Sorry, I’m not available to take your call please leave a message. I’ll call you right back.”
“Hi Diedre, my name is Delbert Dangerfield. Can you call me back right away at 313-555-1212. Thanks”
“Thank you for calling Inner City Paint…”
“You’ve reached Manny. Well, you’ve reached Manny’s voice mail. Speak to the beep.”
“Hi Manny, can you call Delbert Dangerfield back right away at 313-555-1212. It’s about my mother’s house. Thanks”
“Thank you for calling…”
“We’re sorry that is not a valid extension. For a company directory please…”
“We’re sorry that is not a valid extension…”
“Hi, this is Michelle”
“Michell, Michelle, thank God I got a hold of you. I was beginning to lose hope.”
“I’m busy helping other customers right now. Leave a message at the sound of the beep. I’ll call you back.”
Shit, shit, shit, I’ll never forgive them. I gotta go down there now. Where the hell are they?
I handed her the key and said, “I’m givin’ you cabin 8. There’s parkin’ right in front and you’re pretty close to the pool. Make sure you lock the door and windows ‘fore midnight.”
“Thanks.” She took the key from my hand and turned to go. I flicked the switch to turn on the ‘No’ in the Vacancy sign and she stopped like she had forgotten something. She turned and stepped back to the counter, “Why did you say that?” she asked.
“Why did you say to lock the door and windows before midnight? What happens at midnight?”
“Oh, ha, prob’ly nothing.”
“OK what might happen at midnight?”
“Like I said, prob’ly nothin’ will happen but sometimes things do happen. ‘Specially in back of cabin 8.”
She leaned her elbows on the counter and looked at me expectantly. Waiting for me to explain.
Eventually I continued, “Well, I don’t wanna scare ya but cabin 8 backs up to the ol’ graveyard and sometimes there’s some carryin’ on back there. Never ‘fore midnight though. Look, I could give you another room but we’re full up.”
“What kind of carrying on?” she asked.
“I never seen it myself but I’ve heard it. Sounds like a party back there.”
“Ghosts?” she ventures.
“Some think so, might be just kids but, some thinks it’s spirits. Will ya be wantin’ a refund now? Are ya gonna be movin’ on? Goin’ south, the next town’s Tularosa. ‘Bout a hour’s drive. Lemme get you your money back. I unnerstand.” I switched off the ‘No’ in the sign.
“What time is checkout time?” she put her hands flat on the counter and stood up straight.
“Give me till three with no extra charge and I’ll stay.” She said with a gleam in her eye.
I switched the ‘No’ back on, “Deal.”
She went back out to her car and moved it in front of cabin 8, unloaded a small case and disappeared inside.
The next morning came and went. Her car was still parked where she had left it the night before. A little before 3:30 I went and knocked on the door of cabin 8. When I got no response I used my pass key and went in. Her small bag was set on the table in front of the window, car keys and purse right next to it. Looked like no one had slept in the bed. The bathroom window was open in the back of the cabin and the screen was ripped. No matter, I could fix that later. I took the $400.00 cash from her purse along with an ATM card. Her driver’s license said her name was Bonny Elizabeth Galloway from Akron Ohio. She had written Betsy Galloway in the register last night so that checked. Date of Birth was listed as December 23, 1979. Chances were that the PIN for the ATM was 1979. Folks were so predictable.
I scooped up her purse, car keys, and overnight case. I tossed the bags in the back of her car and slid in behind the wheel. I could sell this car to Lefty for another hundred bucks or so. He would scrap it and there would be no trace that Bonny Elizabeth Galloway had ever visited this town. There was no body, after all. Those spirits are so accommodating.
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