Chapter Thirty Four, snowed in
He was getting bored now. He wondered who decorated these hotel rooms, and how often. His room had all shades of grey-that must have been considered conducive to relaxation at some point. It looked depressing to him.
It was only 5:00, but he decided to head down for dinner. He could watch a couple movies after that and Skype with Pauline. Then tomorrow it was travel day-so they told him.
Walking into the restaurant, he smelled fried food. Afternoon snack food for other stranded travelers. No one was seated at tables except two couples, so he sat at the bar. He reasoned it would be much easier to sit there alone and talk to the bartender.
“Enjoying your stay?” Asked the bartender.
“It was supposed to be shorter,” said Tyler. “My flight’s been cancelled for tomorrow, but they booked me on a much later one. I guess that gives them more time for the weather to change and for them to clear the runways.”
“Join the club,” said the bartender. “It’s good for business. I’m Chuck,” he said. “Might as well be friendly, as long as you are stuck here, right?”
“Well, you need a drink, Tyler. What’ll it be?”
“Grey Goose and soda,” said Tyler.
“Twist of lime?” Said Chuck.
“No, orange would be my preference.”
“Oh, sounds good, sounds good,” bantered Chuck. “I would like that myself.”
“What’s good from the kitchen?” Asked Tyler .
“Here’s a menu. Did you want a whole dinner or just some munchies?”
“I’m thinking a chicken dinner! How’s the Chicken Marsala?”
“Oh, one of my favorites,” Chuck replied. “With a salad or soup?”
“Do you have spinach salad, with that hot bacon dressing?”
“Sure do. I’ll bring you some breadsticks to go with that.”
Chuck placed the vodka on a napkin in front of Tyler. “I’ll get that order right in,” he said.
Tyler sat there by himself for a couple of minutes, and then an attractive brunette sat two seats down from him. “You stranded too,” she asked?
“I am,” Said Tyler as he sipped his drink.
Several more guys came into the bar and sat on the barstools. It got a little noisier. The brunette used that justification to move closer to Tyler. “I’m not sure I could talk over that crowd,” she said, smiling.
Just then Chuck brought over the biggest basket of breadsticks Tyler had ever seen. “Thought you might want some to share,” he said.
Tyler waved his hand at the basket and then at the woman. “Feel free, I cannot eat all that,” he said.
“Well, I appreciate it,” she said. My name’s Monique.
Tyler mostly ignored her but she chatted on. “So I was here with my sister, and she got out before the storm, but I’m stuck here. Not much to do in this town either, most of the shops are closed for the weather too.”
“What about the library?” Asked Tyler.
“The library?” Monique looked confused. “Oh you are teasing me!” She said, laughing out loud. Chuck and others glanced over at her. “Listen,” she said. “You seem like you are pretty uptight. I’m a nice person. I just thought you might want some company, same as me. Is there anything wrong with that? Can I buy you another drink and loosen you up?”
“You cannot,” said Tyler. “My wife couldn’t be here, but I don’t accept drinks from other women.”
“Oh really? What do you accept?” flirted Monique.
“Really. Have some dignity,” Tyler said. “I would like to be left alone please.”
Her face turned red and she walked away and sat on the other side of the group of guys.
Probably have better luck there, thought Tyler to himself.
His dinner arrived and he enjoyed the tender chicken with mushrooms and Marsala sauce, and spinach salad. When he had finished, the guys called him over. He sat on the other side, away from Monique, and chatted with them for a while. He had another vodka, and then another, and before he knew it it was 11:00.
Back home, Pauline tried to contact Tyler when he did not call after a normal dinner time. Where could he be? She knew the restaurant had a bar. She thought to herself it would be selfish to expect him to sit in the hotel room all night when he could at least talk to some other people. As long as the people weren’t other women. She frowned. As the hours went by her worry turned to anger and back to worry again. She did laundry, mopped floors, cleaned bathrooms, all the while waiting for a call. It was her release when she was upset. He would have some explaining to do when he did call. Or did he forget and go to sleep? She was just beside herself and did not know what to do.
When he realized the time he made a hasty retreat and made an excuse about getting up early. He heard Monique’s loud laugh projecting across the room.
Returning to his room, just as he opened the door he heard the skype signal from his laptop. He looked at the screen. Six missed calls, oops.
“Hi sweetie,” he said.
“Oh thank God,” said Pauline. “I was worried about you. What were you doing?”
“Well, I went downstairs for dinner, and got to talking to some guys, and lost track of time. I’m sorry!”
“Well there was a woman trying to pick me up too but I told her to go away, that my wife wouldn’t like it.”
She warmed up then. “OK, well, I’m glad you are ok. Thank you for being a good husband.”
“You are more than welcome! Hey I probably should get to sleep. TheY two of them put me on a much later flight tomorrow and it may or may not be cancelled, but I want to be ready to go.”
“OK.” She felt like he was rushing off the phone. Who was the woman he had mentioned? What was she doing going up to strange men in a bar, in a snowstorm?
Pauline had no reason to worry. Tyler was wholly devoted to her and as far as she knew had never strayed. But women worry about that sort of thing and she was no exception. That is the main reason, she thought to herself, why women worry so much about their weight and their appearance. They don’t want to lose out if there is competition.
She decided to turn on an old movie to distract herself. The cats climbed up on the couch, one next to her, and one on her lap. What’ll it be, kids, she asked them? Some kind of chick flick, she thought to herself. But a funny one, not a bad relationship one. Maybe a documentary would be safer! She settled on one about cats and zoned out with a vodka and soda, not really paying attention. She did not like what she was picking up from Arizona, or, was it her imagination? Sometimes it was just easier to zone out. But then she realized the enemy was probably making her doubt what she knew was a good thing. She had a great, happy marriage and she decided to do some spiritual warfare to counter the enemy attack. Who knows, perhaps the enemy was targeting Tyler too, what with that other woman approaching him and all.
The documentary over, she decided to set out some butter to soften so she could bake cookies to welcome him home when he got here. She freshened up the house and planned to do more in the morning when she got up NOT under the influence of the vodka. Then it struck her. Was the enemy attacking BECAUSE she had a drink? It certainly could be related, she thought to herself. Not that that was her punishment, but she was weaker spiritually if she had a drink, and much more susceptible to “stinking thinking.” Another good reason not to indulge. Chocolate is safer she thought to herself, smiling like a Cheshire cat.