I woke up disgustingly early, about 8:45. Less than five hours of sleep with a head full of swill. But I live alone and wasn't used to the community arrangement. I never lost the knowledge that there were others in the room. I did end up with the honor of sleeping on the bed somehow. Dan was on the other side. It's about time we stopped living a lie.
Paul in the chair, Rebbecca already up and out on one of her scouting missions. I put on my shoes and shirt and stepped out.
It was freakishly warm again. Already sixty-five degrees on a March morning. Damn that sun. I've become sunglass-dependent in the past few years, albino-eyed. I was wearing them now, of course, but still... I hadn't really drunk enough to be hungover, had I? (a dog-lick of this shit would be enough to give you a headache you fucking idiot.) There was no way to really know how much, what with the elevated alcohol content and the "Lakota Way". Enough though, and not enough sleep. Damn that sun.
I think I was paranoid; not "feeling" paranoid in the pothead-Vizzini use of the phrase, but clinically paranoid. I could hear, I think, all of the dogs in the village. They were all barking at me. I saw three or four human figures a couple of blocks off the highway, they were looking at me, talking about me to each other over their fences. The people with houses along the highway were peering at me through their windows, trust me on that. I do question my mind sometimes, or was it the quiet? There are villages smaller than Rushville in the Platte Valley that aren't this quiet. There's always a train horn or the distant hum of semis on the interstate. This was 9:30 AM, Tuesday morning, peak of the business week. Besides the two or three trucks that drove down the federal highway in the twenty minutes I spent outside (drivers looking at me) I heard dogs and birds. Some people claim that they like it this quiet and "peaceful". They must be joking.
In and out of the Pump n Pantry, black coffee and the World-Herald, back to the hotel. One thing about Rushville, the abandoned buildings and failed businesses look better than the places that are still open. It's like that in a lot of tiny towns.
Read the paper, drink the coffee, brew some black tar in the house coffee pot. Shower, attempt to do homework through blurry eyes. Becky reading her Munro on the other side of the room, Dan and Paul still dead asleep. Still quiet.
Eighteen hours is more than enough time for four people to ruin a single room. So I decided to take on the Joyce persona to fetch trash bags and fresh linens.
The maid was one door down. I slipped out of our room in such a manner that she couldn't possibly see in side. The top half of me was sticking out the door at about an eighty degree angle. I asked her where the maid was, she said she was it.
"Could I get some fresh towels and some trash bags?"
"No problem, just bring out your trash and your towels and we'll leave you some new ones by the door. Need anything else?"
"No, no, we're fine, I mean that's all I need."
I brought out two bags of trash (Don't add any of the trash lying about the room, she'll know there's more than one of you) and the dirty towels, all three bath towels, all three wash clothes, and both bath mats, slipped out the door at the same brilliantly mendacious angle, and handed her the refuse.
"Here ya go"
"O.K. sir, is this all the trash"
"Will you be needing anything else today"
"....... No, we're fine............ I mean no."
"O.k than, have a good day."
Say what you will, they haven't caught us yet. If the hotel owner is reading this, than let me just say, Dan made us do it. I'll give you his address and phone number in return for immunity, and maybe a little something extra on the side.
Noon came I realized that I wasn't going to stay awake through the whole day, so I snuggled back in next to Dan and laid down for about an hour. Much better.
I woke up feeling very hungry. Ramon and a sandwich simply wasn't going to do it. We had bought a large tin of ravioli, along with paper plates, plastic knives, forks, and spoons, two kinds of lunch meat, two kinds of mustard, pickles, olives, and pickled eggs. No can opener, though. I was not eating another sandwich. I would go back to the IGA and get a can opener. I would take that initiative.
I walked across a churchyard. That same maid was there, looking at me. A went into the grocery store and was eyeballed for the entire time. It took me ten minutes to find a three-dollar can opener. Sometimes, if you buy a can opener this cheap it will break into three pieces the first time you try to use it. I was willing to take that chance. Straight line and a goal.
The other males were starting to stir when I got back to the hotel. Good, we can turn the TV up now. I flipped through some channels and came across a soccer match. Two mid-level Premiership teams were tied 0-0, hell yes. We could all have ravioli for breakfast now. We would bond this way, become not merely friends but brothers, nay, a single being.
The TV and microwave were plugged into the same outlet. This is a standard arrangement in hotels and even some private homes. It's nothing. I put my plate of ravioli in, the TV flickered and turned off. I turned it back on, the screen turned dirty-bathwater white and flickered off again. My ravioli was done. I shut off the microwave and the TV went back to normal. It was clear that the outlet couldn't handle powering the TV and the microwave at the same time. Too fucking bad. This is America and we will discipline our technology into obedience if we need to.
I believe Paul's serving was in the microwave when the TV began squealing like a dying rabbit and belching white smoke. This went on for a good five minutes even after we shut off the microwave. We were transfixed. We're used to running our TV's stereo's DVD, and Playstations out of the same outlet at the same time. Things apparently don't work that way in God's country.
But I'm glad that it happened. It was meant to be. It was a post-modern, passive-aggressive, ultra-ironic protest against mass-media. We had already abandoned our Ipods and Facebook for the trip. Passe, anybody can do that. What we had done is traveled back in time to a Sandhills village that was still deep in the twentieth century. We had come to this hotel and, through Freudian "accident" destroyed this piece of antiquated technology. Nothing left to do now but break cuneiform tablets against the radio, but we were still kind of tired, and the smoke alarm was going to go off if we didn't do something. So I had to settle for opening the window and tearing off the curtain. (Becky said that I castrated the curtain. This is nonsense. I merely circumcised the unnecessary length.)
It was three in the afternoon now, and we were starting to feel the tourists guilt about not doing something. My drunken demand that we go to Wounded Knee became a sober suggestion, and we all agreed that it was a good one.