Infinity + One
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I laughed—a loud gasp that popped my ears and burst the bubble of anger that I’d been floating in. After all that, Mr. Finn Clyde was worried about Gran’s purse?
“Yep. I sure did. Mine was still on the tour bus.” I pulled the purse from where it sat between my feet and started pulling items from it. Gran’s phone, handfuls of bills, her wallet with her shiny credit cards.
“I was a minor when I got started in the business, and Gran has always controlled the money side of things. Her name is on every one of my accounts, and I’ve never taken her off.” I was pretty certain she paid the balances on these cards from accounts with my name on them. So I didn’t feel too bad that I’d used one of them at Walmart and then again to fill up Clyde’s gas tank in Albany.
“I should probably give her purse back to her, huh?” I rolled down the window and threw the designer bag out onto the freeway. I kept the wallet and the cash, though. And the Tic Tacs. Orange Tic Tacs are tasty.
“I should probably let her know I’m okay too. But I can’t actually call her since I have her phone, now can I?” I laughed as if that was the funniest thing in the world. The phone vibrated in my hand like it was laughing with me, and I almost dropped it. Instead, I decided it was probably time to face the music.
“Hel-lo?” I said in my best sing song voice.
“It’s Gran!” I said to Clyde, as if I were thrilled to hear from her.
“Bonnie Rae? Who are you with? Where are you?”
“Why, Gran, I’m with Clyde! Haven’t you ever heard of Bonnie and Clyde?”
“Bonnie Rae? Tell me where you are!”
“You know what, Gran? The tour is over. I am an adult, and I am officially on vacation. You need to leave me alone for a while. And Gran? You’re fired.” And then I returned her phone the same way I’d returned her purse.
“POSSIBLE SIGHTINGS TODAY of country singing sensation, Bonnie Rae Shelby, who reportedly left the stage without finishing her concert at the TD Garden Arena in Boston, Massachusetts last night and disappeared into thin air. Police were called in several hours later after her manager and security team were unable to locate her. In a statement made early this morning, police reported there were items stolen from her dressing room, prompting them to get involved, although it is still too early to file a missing person’s report on the twenty-one year old singer.”
FINN CALLED IT a day about five o’clock that afternoon. He was drooping at the wheel and promised we would get an early start the next morning. We pulled into a simple, roadside motel, one with a six or an eight on it . . . I didn’t pay much attention to the name. I was too busy worrying that he was going to sleep for a few hours and cut loose of me. I was ready for a shower and clean sheets myself, but not if it meant being alone somewhere between Boston and Cleveland without a friend in the world. I told him as much, and he sighed like he was getting a little tired of my insecurity.
“We’ll get adjoining rooms, okay? We’ll leave the door between them open for as long as you want,” he said.
“Done.” I jumped out immediately, grabbed my two duffle bags, and headed inside. The desk clerk looked like she’d had even less sleep than Clyde and I, the bags between her eyes dusky and plump, and she hardly looked at me as I made the request for two adjoining rooms and plunked down Gran’s card. I didn’t want to use the cash if I didn’t have to. Having it made me feel less vulnerable. Maybe it was my hillbilly blood, wanting to stick it somewhere safe, or maybe it was just the tangibility of the bills, but I wasn’t parting with it.
I signed the receipt with a granny flourish, our names were almost the same, after all, and had the keys to the two rooms in my hand before Clyde even made it inside. He looked like he wanted to argue about the fact that I’d paid for both rooms, but then he sighed and took his key from my hand. He shot a glance at the desk clerk and was visibly relieved when she seemed oblivious to us, already tuned back into the TV in the lobby. A pair of skaters twirled across the screen, and I realized she was watching the Olympics. I’d forgotten they were even going on. We left the desk clerk to cheer for the red, white, and blue, and made our way to the second floor.
True to his word, Clyde opened his door between our rooms, and the little bilious knot in my stomach eased immediately.
I didn’t want to turn on the TV because it would drown out the sound of Clyde moving about in his own room, a sound that was comforting to me. I realized part of my problem was that I wasn’t especially good at being alone. I rarely was, and rarely had been since I’d been crowned America’s sweetheart and had hit the road running . . . or singing. Before that, I’d lived in a double-wide trailer with six other people, and there had been no such thing as solitude. I wondered if it was an acquired taste. I thought maybe I could learn to like it, and I definitely wanted more of it. But not now.
FINN ORDERED PIZZA, keeping his promise to himself that he wouldn’t let Bonnie buy his dinner, though she’d paid for his room, which had cost a whole lot more. He heard the shower in her room start up and relaxed a little, knowing he was as alone as he was going to get for the near future.
She was the most peculiar girl he’d ever met. Sad, sassy, temperamental, introspective, funny . . . and all of that in the space of ten minutes. She was troubled. That much was obvious. But she wasn’t scared of him, surprisingly. He wasn’t sure what to do with that information, and he felt a flash of guilt that she might be afraid if she knew his story as well as he knew hers, which was fairly well considering he’d done a lot of listening throughout the long day. After she’d told him about Minnie she seemed spent. So he’d asked her to sing to him, thinking she would roll her eyes and refuse him, or give him some line about being on “vacation.” Instead, she’d been happy to oblige, and he’d marveled at her lack of artifice, considering she was who she was. She’d plopped one red boot up on the dash and regaled him with one ridiculous song after another.