Take the Girl out of Humboldt: Part II
“I don’t want to make you drive all that way,” I protested but she insisted.
She arrived in her immaculate 15 year old Lincoln. Through the stiff clear seat covers, rich brown leather tantalized. The ends of my fingers craved the buttery softness that I had felt only once when cleaning her car. But I carefully slid my new gray wool skirt (professional but with a tiny flirty slit up the back) onto the nubby plastic.
She was my aunt—actually my ex-aunt. She had divorced my father’s half brother. And her stern face and iron gray hair simply reinforced the biting words with which she ordered the world to achieve the impossibly high standards she set. For once though, she nodded approvingly. In fact, I thought her lips quirked slightly as she took in my soft green sweater and gray skirt. “You look like an Irish schoolgirl,” she said.
“Is it..am I dressed wrong?” I stared down at the prim little outfit I had put together. Maybe I looked too young.
“Unless I’m much mistaken, and I rarely am, they’ll lap you up.” And this time she did grin a little slyly. I gave her the address and her grin changed to worry. “I need to call my partner and let her know where we’re going. This is in a new subdivision and nobody lives in it yet. I tried to get these developers as clients but they didn’t seem on the up and up so we withdrew our bid.”
After making a call, we headed out. For once, she did not interrogate me and, instead, entertained me with snarky comments on members of our family. Her car purred into the Santa Rosa hills high above the town. We passed whole areas torn up by bulldozers but strangely empty of human life. Then at last we wound our way into a vacant neighborhood. There must have been 50 new houses and all seemed empty. A few saplings thrust worried wrinkled limbs over the sidewalks but otherwise there were no lawns and no cars. Even at the address we were looking for there were no vehicles. I sat in the car staring at the house. Unlike the other houses, it had curtains. One twitched.
“Hon, are you sure you want to do this? I’ve got a friend who owns a business not far from your apartment. You could work as a motel maid. It’s only minimum wage.” She noted my look of horror and nodded. “Well, you got try things yourself. When you get in there you be sure and tell them your aunt is in the car waiting. Okay?”
Tomorrow Part III