Lorraine and Mac were in a good place. (her place…) She had resigned herself to being with a guy who was probably cheating on her and who left her house a mess, but was at least free-spirited. He was happy to have a partner who fed him and kept his bed warm. Neither of their standards were particularly high. Their life together was peaceful but was getting predictable, Lorraine’s pet peeve. She was hoping for a bit of excitement, so one morning over breakfast, she suggested that they go away for a weekend.
“You know, Mac, there are some lovely Bed and Breakfasts in this area. There’s The Arbor House right here in Black Mountain, and The Inn Around the Corner. There’s also the Red Rocker. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a romantic weekend playing tourist?’ She sipped her coffee flavored with Sweet and Low and skim milk, nibbled on her dry toast, and waited for his reply.
Mac had his mouth full of Tasty Cake donuts, but swallowed and answered, powdered sugar on his face and beard, “No point in spending money when we can get away to Asheville for free! You have never been to my apartment. It’s my special place and I’d love to show it to you. It might be a little dusty, but it has everything we might need. The toilet doesn’t flush, but we can use a bucket and pour it into the yard when we leave.”
The bucket idea had Lorraine a bit frightened, but she had told herself to be more accepting of other people’s lifestyles, and wasn’t she open to new adventures? “I guess that sounds like fun,” Lorraine lied.
That Friday afternoon she packed her overnight bag with her sexy Dior silk nightgown, a few bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, and some nibbles. They would probably eat at the wonderful restaurants in Asheville, so she didn’t bother packing food. She had been dying to revisit Cucina 24 or Andaaz, and so she also packed a few nice outfits. Mac packed nothing, as he explained that he kept clothes and toiletries at the apartment.
She hadn’t been in Mac’s car before. Like many people in Asheville, he drove a Subaru, but the bright red color helped identify it on Cherry Street where it was parked. The exterior was sparkling clean, but the interior was her first shock. As Mac didn’t approve of throwing litter from the car, the interior was like a dumpster. It smelled of rotting fruit with the floor covered with apple cores and blackened banana peels. Fruit flies flitted around everywhere, as were ants and other crawling insects. Cockroaches? Lorraine settled onto the passenger seat, knees together and with her bag held gingerly on her lap. She kept feeling as if bugs were crawling on her and scratched her legs until she drew blood.
They drove on I-40 towards Asheville in silence, and she asked Mac what part of Asheville he lived in, just to make conversation. His attention was drawn away from the newspaper he was reading, the pages spread out across the steering wheel. He was the definition of The Distracted Driver. He drove fast, using his knees to steer, and kept his eyes peeled for hot rods when he wasn’t reading a book, a used magazine, or a newspaper. If he saw a street rod he’d pull up along side the vehicle and motion for the driver to pull over. When terrified drivers made the mistake of pulling over, thinking maybe something was leaking out of their cars, Mac gave them a litany of the hot rods he had had as a kid until they could excuse themselves and slip away.
Lorraine knew that even though he was a terrifying driver, he had never had an accident, so she didn’t want to start nagging. She decided that praying without ceasing was the best alternative. So she closed her eyes tight and whispered every prayer she knew under her breath.