The "very best" accommodations in an indian-themed motel doesn't amount to much, since the room was only large enough for a double bed and a beat up sofa and the walls were thin enough to let the heat in during daytime and out again at night, but we lived like royalty. And with no apparent competition for the luxury suite we were going on two weeks in that place, which suited the manager just fine since we paid every morning in cash.
Vanessa was back to her neurotic self again and I was able to drink myself half to death with complete impunity from her judgement, so long as I went outside to throw up when I had to. The sound of retching made her skin crawl and I was doing it more often now, like some fraternity pledge away from home for the first time in his life. I had a spot near the back of our teepee that was just out of sight from the lobby that I frequented for exactly that purpose, a spot that featured a mummified cat corpse jutting out of the hard, sun-baked earth from some long forgotten flash flood that no doubt ruined this place at one point. Now it collected my sick in stringy strands of mucous and liquor to a depth that had the cat posthumously drowning one last time.
There was a small town a few miles down the road, but there was hardly any reason to go there except for the liquor store or to pick up an overpriced loaf of week old bread and sardines in mustard. Even the bar was off limits to us. We stumbled in that place a day or so after we arrived only to find a game of bingo being played by a group of geriatric alcoholics that were sinful enough to drink, but innocent enough to consider bingo a good way to spend their time. But I sure did enjoy the dichotomy of reactions Vanessa got from the old men and old women with her tits hanging out of a five hundred dollar cocktail dress. The women stared in shocked anger and the men in wide-eyed wonderment. I wanted to hate fuck her in front of them but was dragged out before I could finish dreaming up the fantasy. Vanessa was embarrassed enough to cry. I didn't understand how she could be so ashamed by the very qualities that made me almost love her.
But when we were locked up in the teepee things were different. I wasn't shouting at her or degrading her, I let her take a bath first, decide when and what to eat, went down on her from time to time... we were playing like we were married. I even got blackout drunk one night and wrote a few dozen poems for her, all terrible, derivative, hackey, love-sick bullshit, but Vanessa wouldn't shut up about them. She read them over and over to herself and hid them from me like an overprotective cat with her kittens, like I might stomp the life out of them to hurt her when my mood changed and I wanted her to suffer again. And that's how we lived together out in the desert, always in the moment, just waiting for the other shoe to drop and get back to resenting each other again.
I was sure things were going better. I thought the happiness was going to sustain her. I thought she might be mending from all the badness that she was living through all those years, and that I would be able to keep her at my side for balance like an old bum with a million-dollar cane that he had no fucking business possessing. Maybe I was the naive one the whole time.