Chapter 32 ~ Gloria Confronts Her Past
Joe, Sam, and Gloria sat staring at their water bottles in front of them as if the water bottles held an answer. Joe glanced up at Gloria and turned his eyes away. He saw the painful memories now etched deeply on her face that turned her pale skin to an ashen gray. Sam was rubbing his salt and pepper grunge, he turned his head toward the tabby peacefully asleep on the cot. Gloria now stared vacantly off into a distance far beyond the four walls of the small room and journeyed into a time that no longer existed. The dungeon where she locked her painful memories no longer held the memories captive. One after another they fled down the labyrinth from her subconscious to her consciousness. Her lips moved as if she were talking to someone, but no sound came from her mouth.
Joe tapped Sam on the thigh and made a motion with his head to leave.
Sam tilted his head toward Joe and said, “You go and sit in the car. I’ll be a few minutes.”
Joe stared at Sam. He whispered, “Let’s go.”
“Git,” Sam said with an insistence to his voice.
If Gloria heard their brief conversation, she didn’t let on. She was in another universe with a powerful, deadly attraction for her. Joe took hold of his water bottle, pushed his chair back, rose, and said softly, “Thank you, Gloria.” She didn’t acknowledge his words or look at him. Joe turned and walked through the beaded curtains.
Sam listened. He heard Joe’s foot steps cross the floor. He heard the door creak open, and the noise of the highway entered the store. He heard the door close, the tin sign tap against the door window, and the highway noise gently recede to a low background rumble.
Sam waited a minute. He said, “I’m not gonna leave until you snap out of it and get a grip. What happened to you was bad. There’s no denying it. You got a right to feel angry. You said it yourself. You gave him ten years and now you’re giving him the rest of your life because you’re afraid to move on. You’re running away from something that can’t hurt you. You’re carrying your anger like it was a priceless treasure. That’d be like me carrying a rattlesnake all day and thinking it wasn’t going to bite me. Hell, scratch another man or woman and they kin tell you how many times they been hurt. Maybe not hurt the same way as you, but they been hurt. If life hasn’t whacked them a good one yet, it will if they live long enough. It’s the way things happen. Don’t think you’re so special everything is going be the way you want it to be. The worse part is you let him stop you from using your God given gift. You got a gift few people have. You still got the gift.”
Gloria moved her head. She blinked her eyes and rubbed them with her fists. Sam stood bowlegged all five feet five inches, his ball cap tilted backward. Gloria, who was three inches taller than Sam, came out of her chair and wrapped her arms around him as if he were a life preserver and she was cast off from a boat in the middle of a raging sea. At first tears ran silently down her cheeks, then her body began to shake, and she let out sounds of a mother bear who witnessed a mountain lion killing her cub. Her sounds came from a place deep within her, traveling up an emotional canyons and echoing of the canyon walls. She sucked in large gulps of air with each breath filling her lungs and letting it out with a savage howl. Sam held steady. His arms held her the way a mother holds a child who fell and is crying unconsolably.
Slowly, not all at once, but as the way the tide rises, the emotional storm that ravaged her body began to give way. Her flood of tears slowed to a trickle and she opened her eyes and looked at Sam and said, “Thank you.”
Sam led her to the cot. The tabby jumped to the floor, sat on its haunches, and watched, wondering what was happening. Gloria sat on the cot and Sam sat next to her and held her left hand. The tabby crossed in front of Gloria and jumped on the cot and settled next to her on her right. Gloria began to stroke the tabby with her right hand.
Sam said, “It’s time to move on, Gloria. Do it. Do it for yourself. It’s time.”
Gloria turned her head slightly to Sam. “Thank you, Sam. How can I ever thank you?”
Sam smiled and said, “Two things. Vegas is a big place. Do you have any idea where we can start looking? The other is start singing again.”
Gloria closed her eyes. After a while she opened them, “I really don’t, Sam. I want to keep it that way. Maybe I will start singing again. I’m tired of this life. You were right, it’s a big con.”
Sam said, “Thank you for hearing me out. Think about it, you got a voice the angels want.” Gloria’s eyes followed him as he walked through the beaded curtain.
Sam opened the passenger door and slid in. Joe looked at him and said, “What happened?”
Sam said, “Nothing happened. I’m hungry. It’s been a long day. I don’t want to talk about Gloria. Let it go. I need a good night’s rest. We might be at end of the road, Joe. Ritchie went to Vegas ten years ago and we have no idea where to start.”
“If not Vegas, where?” grunted Joe.
Sam didn’t answer. He stared out the passenger window at the closed sign on the Psychic Healer’s door.