Cap didn't believe me, and there was no changing his mind. He'd gotten rid of his damned parrot; I just assumed he'd give Czar to a good home, too.
After the auction there wasn’t much left to do. Cap’s roommate Ron loaned us his bed while we worked our final week. Only at our farewell party did we confide our true plans to co-workers, all of whom were jealous as hell.
"Words don't always mean the way they sound. In Lima I worked my way through crowds saying, Escucha mé, escucha mé; which doesn't mean excuse me but listen to me. No wonder people stared."
We grew tired of uno, dos, etc., and decided we could pick up Spanish along the way. Instead, Cap taught me his favorite driving game to keep alert: alternately memorizing and repeating words in alphabetical order. "I went to the store and bought an Apple; a Banana; Cow; Dirt," etc. At night we played Backgammon in our room.
From coast to coast Czar drooled on my shoulder, no matter which front seat I occupied. It made me nuts, so whenever we stopped and people paid complements, which always happened,
“You burn terribly. Remember, Mom used to keep you wrapped up under the umbrella at the beach? Plus, you get seasick.”
He expected his mother to die within a year and insisted we set aside enough for emergency flights home. I was surprised he'd leave at all, but Barb hadn’t exactly endeared herself to me, so I was happy to be leaving her sphere of influence.
"Why did you say you'd take it? I thought we didn't have the room."
"We don't, but I didn't want to say No."
"Why not? Hillary and I have been saying No to her for years. She's used to it."
I returned a year later in a better frame of mind, and even took Rita up on her suggestion to climb to the top of Diamond Head, totally out of character. I am not a walker, let alone a hiker. Rita suggested I leave my purse in the car; so I grabbed a single cigarette to reward myself at the top, and for some strange reason my medical insurance card. On the way down I slipped and fell on the path, twisting my left ankle badly.
My suicide attempt following Tino's death was not only unsuccessful, but I damaged my left leg's sciatic nerve from tail to toe. I felt like Quasimodo; dragging my leg as I walked. The feeling returned much faster than predicted but the leg was still weak; and as I rounded a hairpin curve on the volcano, my foot slipped on the uneven, cracked concrete and I fell hard.
Tom tried carrying me on his back for a time but that wasn’t working, so Rita and I were left on the path while he ran down to the bottom to call for help. One couple waited with us; and everyone passing up or down stopped to offer condolences and occasionally drugs, which I accepted: from a Japanese couple; from a German couple...
A helicopter circled overhead but there was nowhere to land, and eventually 6 men arrived to carry me down, Rita trailing closely behind. At that point I was feeling no pain,and as they loaded me into the ambulance I announced,
“I’ve got my medical card!” Good planning.
X-rays revealed the worst possible scenario: both bones broken, requiring pins and plates. It was recommended I either return to Oregon immediately for surgery or have it performed in Honolulu. One look at orthopedic surgeon Dr. James F Scoggin, III and I whipped out my card, can you blame me? Good old Rita, snapping away. I never had the hardware removed and it rarely gives me trouble, but my soft cast was coming on the boat, too.
"OMG, what are we going to do with all these suitcases after unpacking our clothes?" We brought seven; so they remained behind after transferring everything to boxes.
"Remember, you're always welcome here. He's not."
I received a simple, "We don't trust him," but I didn't want to hear. Besides, there was nothing to do about it even if I wanted to. The night before we left for Bradenton, I hid my head while crying into Cap's arms,
Next up: King Tut
To read from Chapter 1: A Rough Start