Chapter Two - Abby
“Your quarter machine is out of order.” I called over to the desk attendant of the Blue Ridge Motel. The older Indian man barely made a movement of recognition let alone acknowledge my dilemma. Walking over, I slapped my ten on the counter. He looked over his book at me and raised an eyebrow. “Could you please break this for me so I can use the vending machine?”
“It takes fives.” He said in an attitude filled broken accent.
“I don’t have a five. I have a ten.”
“Sounds like a you problem.” With that, he turned back to his book and slid the glass of the counter shut. Huffing, I turned and spotted the coffee pot on the welcoming counter. I walked over and poured myself a cup of the disgusting liquid and heading towards my room again. The room next to mine opened and Miss Sandelgo emerged. The older woman smiled at me when she noticed me. Her greying brown hair was tossed up in a bun on the top of her head and her plump body was covered in a blue knit winter jacket. Old winter boots were tied up to her shins and she reminded me of my late grandmother that would dress in the cheapest clothes she could find at a thrift store.
“Hello Abby! Are you heading out for the festival of lights?” I shook my head.
“Nope. Just trying to get Admir to break my ten for the fifth time this week. Is that where you are off to?” She nodded.
“Yes! Christmas is my favorite holiday and I love when they light the tree. You should come. They have something for everyone!” Glancing up at the sky, I saw flashes of lighting in the distance.
“I don’t know. The weather looks like it’s not going to hold out.”
“It’s the weirdest thing! Do you think it’s going to thunder snow? I’ve never seen it before. I’ve heard about it but never actually seen it.” I shrugged. The air felt warm and sticky for December, almost as if we had switched over to July. The snow that was already on the ground was beginning to melt.
“We might. Be careful at the festival, okay? Don’t want you to get caught in some bad weather.” She waved her hand at me as she shuffled towards her car in her designated parking spot. The rusty Cadillac Deville groaned when she opened the door.
“I’ll be fine! I’ll see you when I get back. Maybe I’ll stop and get some goodies.” She winked at me before climbing in. I waved as she brought the car to life and backed out into the road. Her tires squealed slightly as she sped away. Her driving scares the hell out of me. Shaking my head, I unlocked my room door and slid inside.
Hotel living isn’t too bad. For $400 a month, I get a room with a private bathroom. Once a week, housekeeping cleans and changes out the sheets and the towels. It’s not too horrible of a situation. There’s a queen size bed, a television with cable and a microwave. It helps me survive. I’ve been here for about a year now, taking up residence over living in my car like I had been doing. Sadly, my poor Honda Civic died which left me no choice but to find somewhere else to stay. I found this place through the yellow pages and have been here ever since. I am one of 4 regulars that live here. Besides Miss Sandelgo, there is Mr. Burns in the room next to mine, Arthur Huckaby in the room following Mr. Burns and then Yetta Malone in the last room on this wing of the motel. They are all nice people who live normal lives. They just happen to live here instead of a regular apartment or a house.
Setting my gross cup of coffee down on the end table, I flipped on the TV with the remote on the bed. The picture was fuzzier than usual, the cartoon jumping across the screen. Walking over, I hit the side of the TV. The picture adjusted itself and I could make it out clearly. I turned back to the bed when a bright flash of lighting filled the dimly lit room. A loud bang followed and all the electricity flickered for a moment. Crossing my fingers, I prayed that it wouldn’t go out. The motel doesn’t provide flash lights and doesn’t allow candles. Sitting in the dark for hours on end was not how I planned on spending the night. The lights stayed on though, but the television fizzled out, the picture going black all together. Knowing my luck, it fried. Groaning, I tossed the remote back on the bed and headed for the door.
Outside, I found Mr. Burns standing outside. His bald head was covered in a baseball cap and he wore an old grey t-shirt with a pair of blue flannel pajama bottoms. He was looking up at the sky, the ink black now a light purple color. Lighting flashed across the sky and large clouds were beginning to role in. He turned his head when he heard my footsteps. “What the hell is with this weather? It’s almost sixty degrees out here!”
“I’m not sure. It’s like we are going through a whole year of weather in one night.” I replied as the wind began to pick up. Strands of my red hair blew around my head as large white snowflakes began to fall from the sky. The temperature suddenly dropped twenty degrees. Mr. Burns let out a line of swear words, rubbing his arms.
“It’s like someone just turned down the thermostat for Sea Harbor. This is nuts!” He exclaimed. I glanced at the ground where the large flakes were beginning to collect in a layer. With the wind and the snow, it was beginning to look like a blizzard out there.
“Miss Sandelgo went to the tree lighting!” I called over the wind. “I should go see if I can find her before it gets any worse!” Mr. Burns nodded. Fishing in his pockets, he pulled out his truck keys. He tossed them at me.
“Take my truck. It has four-wheel drive on it just in case.” He said. Nodding, I headed back in my room. Grabbing my bag, my winter coat and my scarf, I threw everything on quickly. Going out the door again, I trekked over to the dark green pickup that was parked in front of Mr. Burns room. He had gone back inside, the light from his window shining on the hood of the truck. I wiped off the window shield with my sleeve before climbing inside the cab. Turning the key in the ignition, it roared to life. Wiping the windshield with the wipers, I carefully backed out of the parking lot and drove in the same direction of Miss Sandelgo.
The roads were getting covered in the snow, cars going slower than the speed limit as I took the highway. I examined every car I passed, making sure they weren’t her. I didn’t see her car anywhere as I passed the strip malls and the gas stations. Turning down the side street that led to the tree lighting ceremony, I saw her car pulled over on the side of the road with her emergency lights flashing. Pulling up behind it, I parked the truck and climbed out. Running over, I saw she was sitting inside trying to use her cell phone. I knocked on the window and she jumped. A smile crossed her face when she was it was me. Rolling down the window, she let out a sigh of relief.
“Oh Abby! I was trying to call Mr. Burns to see if he could come get me. This weather is just plain wacky!” She said, clutching her phone to her chest. “I think the starter is acting up again. I can’t get her to start. There’s a tow truck on the way.” I opened the door for her so she could climb out.
“Here. Take Mr. Burns’ truck back. I’ll sit with your car until the tow truck shows up.” Handing her the keys, I gave her a small smile. The wind was really whipping now, snow flying everywhere. The large flakes ere smaller now and felt like ice on my face.
“Are you sure? It’s my car, Abby.”
“It’s too cold out here for you. I’ll be fine. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” She hesitated for a moment before heading towards the truck. She climbed in, waving as she shut the door. The headlights came on as she brought it to life. Slowly, she pulled away from the curb and back towards the highway. When she was gone, I hopped into the front seat of her car. It was still warm in there which was welcomed as I shut the door. I tried the key, hoping it would start. To my dismay, it didn’t. Groaning, I sat back and closed my eyes.