I’d been just about to hang up when I heard Robert’s voice on the other end of the phone. “Where are you?” he asked me. “Socorro, New Mexico,” I said. “Good, you’re on your way!” He told me what had happened to him. That Sunday night, with nowhere to go, he crashed behind a church in an abandoned cardboard box. The police came around and picked him up and booked him for Vagrancy. He had just gotten out of jail that very evening and had been walking through the lobby of the Stardust Hotel on his way to his rented locker when he heard his name being paged.
Think about that. If I’d been on time, as planned, I’d have missed him. I took just enough time farting around on the cloverleaf and finding that little dump of a motel. If that isn’t fate, then I don’t know what is!
Happy to have touched base with him, I literally floated out of the lobby back into the car and onto the freeway. I made it to Albuquerque at midnight and stopped off in the first motel I saw on Interstate 40. I had directions to where Robert was staying and I would be there the next day. I slept like a log, dreamless, that night. The motel was decent. It wasn’t so bad that you wanted to levitate across the room in your sock feet. The air conditioning was freezing cold, the drapes were thick, letting no desert sun in, and blocking out all the street lights and sounds.
I woke up and got going around eight a.m. the next morning. Breakfast was provided in the form of strong hot coffee and an assortment of donuts and muffins. I gorged on blueberry muffins and coffee. I stood outside my car looking at the day ahead of me. The air was clear, clean and thin. The sun was shining. I thought to myself at that moment that there wasn’t anything on earth prettier than a New Mexico morning. And coming from me, decidedly NOT a morning person, that was a very high compliment.