Thursday, July 21, 2011

Open arms.

I've had an illuminating two weeks. 

Two weeks with no Logan, two weeks with intermittent Connor sitings. 

It's been a good two weeks.

Things I haven't missed: the boy-pee smell in the bathroom. The mess I'm left to contend with that I didn't create. Requests for rides. Loads of extra laundry.  

Things I have missed: my boys.

I'll have pieces of my puzzled life back this weekend.

As for today, thanks to Anne for her birthday celebration breakfast; thanks to Robin for such a fun night.

I do love my friends.

And here's an update on our lady friends, as they find their way through this crazy maze...

"I'll drive if you want a break," Maisie offered as they packed the Dart.

"I think I'm fine."

Stella's tone was dulled by her ache for solitude and routine. She found a bit of both behind the wheel.

Stella didn't like drama, despite the gastronomical grift she and Maisie had so effectively created. She wasn't a liar. And despite the wad of bills that were tucked safely in Maisie's womanly parts, Stella wasn't a thief.

She tried to convince herself of all of those things as she drove out of the Best Choice parking lot.

"You get the map and check the paper. I'll find us some breakfast." Stella said it with a touch of understanding that Maisie might be feeling the same tinge of ambivalence about their recent windfall.

They couldn't find a diner or cafe in Powell, so Stella decided McDonald's would have to do.

They were each balancing what passed for breakfast on their laps as they drove on the 789 toward Bozeman. Maisie finished her McMuffin and let out a satisfied, dignified belch as she opened up the newspaper.



Stella thought that kind of "Oh" exclamation was manipulative, and that assumption made her grip the wheel a bit tighter.

She figured Maisie was passively asking to be asked, "What?"

"Oh, it's just sad. Mr. Clarence Engelbright passed away at the Open Arms retirement community in Bozeman. There was quite a write-up in the paper. Apparently Mr. Engelbright was a pillar of the community."

"That's who I was talking about yesterday, Maisie," Stella said. "The funeral starts at noon, right?"

"You're right. Noon at the Open Arms."

Maisie was stunned by Stella's savvy. She seemed to be one step ahead, every time.

But it didn't take long for Maisie to become distracted. Although Montana was much more scenic than the moonscape that was Wyoming, Maisie's head was deep into the newspaper, primarily because of the ads.

Apparently people gambled in Montana. Bozeman was a hotbed of debauchery.

Maisie thought Bozeman sounded like a lot of fun.

So as they wound their way through the beautiful landscape that was Big Sky country, Maisie subtly referenced a few places they could stay once she and Stella arrived in Bozeman.

"The Grand Tree Inn sounds nice," Maisie said, head tilted high, reading through her bifocals. "So does the Magic Diamond. And the Cat's Paw Cardroom."

"What are you driving at, Maisie?"

Stella wasn't born yesterday.

"I just thought it would be nice to stay somewhere nice once we got to Bozeman, that's all. The Open Arms sounds like such a downer."

Stella got the picture right away.

Maisie wanted to gamble.

And she had a bit of seed money germinating in her cleavage.

"Maybe just a few minutes at the Cat's Paw. We'll need to stretch our legs by then." Stella had her own intentions.

The Open Arms event for Mr. Engelbright would be there, even if they were a bit late.

Game on.

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