Tuesday, December 3, 2013

An American Idyll, Part II

November 25

Lounging at Baton Rouge, we had browsed for a bed and breakfast inn at Pensacola and found one that looked like our style, so I made a note of the phone number before we hit the road for New Orleans.  Once back on I10 I called the B&B but got a machine on which I left our message.  We did not get a return call and I remarked about five o’clock that they must be full and couldn’t be bothered to tell us.  It wasn’t ten minutes later that my phone rang, since I was driving, I handed it to the Hurricane who conducted what I thought was a slightly strange conversation for making reservations.  It seems there was a vacancy but Russell’s Roost B&B only took cash or personal checks which was OK with us.  We had trouble finding the place because Google Maps navigation for iPhones has attention deficit disorder.  However, we rang the bell and an elderly lady (Elderly?  Listen to me.) answered with her mouth full.  We apologized for interrupting dinner but she would have none of that and welcomed us into the foyer, telling us that she was the only one there.  We thought it nice to have the run of the place but both of us were thinking of the Bates Motel.  In the end we were not knifed in the shower.  It seemed she had sold the place and was waiting for escrow to close, and when she got our call, she thought it would be nice to have some company.  We were not much company that evening as we went to dinner and straight to bed, but in the morning she joined us for breakfast where we had a lovely chat learning her life story and plans for the future.  We thanked her for her hospitality and I gave her my last copy of In the Blood.

I have been keeping a secret from you.  On Sunday a sort of a carbuncle developed on my leg.  I know that because I Googled it.  By Monday morning it was ten times as large, swollen, feverish and emitting things you’d rather I didn’t describe.  I was not pleased.  We found an urgent care facility—but it looked more like an ER—in the Baptist/Mayo Clinic Hospital of Pensacola and I began to think in terms of four figure co-pays.  The place was very efficient and they had me in the middle of a rabbit warren of halls and examination rooms before I could say “Obamacare.”  Of course I had to sit and or lie there for about forty minutes before Jeremy, the physician’s assistant who couldn’t have been old enough to have been to med school, arrived to proclaim it a staph infection, wrote a prescription and vanished back into the labyrinth.  Within minutes I was shown the cashier who thought it a long shot, but was willing to try billing Aetna.  I must say that their system of treating the patient before going through the completing forms process makes a great deal of sense, since even if I had been indigent, they would have treated me anyway and stuck the tax payers for the bill, so there was no point in worrying about all that up front.  As I write this a week later, the pills are gone, the sore is worse and my Indian doctor pal back in Pomona returned my email to say that I should try not to think about it.  This is not a happy-making thing.  I’m sure it’s antibiotic resistant, flesh eating bacteria that I acquired by spending way too much time in medical facilities of late.

Tuesday was a long, torturous drive through blinding rain from Jacksonville to our destination in the woods of Williamsburg County, South Carolina.  We were soggy but we arrived at Suttons just as the impenetrable deluge turned to Stygian darkness beneath the Spanish moss festooned oaks.  Our hosts, cousin Bill and Miss Mary, greeted us warmly and fed us excessively.  Thanksgiving was delightful as always with close to seventy people arriving to feast on Bill’s barbecued hog and the myriad of side dishes from chicken and dumplings to smoked chicken rice purlieu.  Chicken ranking second in popularity only to the hog.  We love to visit Suttons and because we come all the way from California, and because we’re old, we don’t have to sleep in the bunkhouse with the little lizards that inhabit the place.  We get to sleep in the guest bedroom of the country house.  The room is very nice but for the cold air return of the furnace.  When the heater ignites, the blower sucks a maelstrom of cold air right across the bed with such force that it pulls open the bi-fold door.  Still it beats the lizards and the all the snoring cousins.

December 1, 2013

From Thanksgiving onward to this writing on Sunday, the weather has improved steadily.  Of course, we’re heading south which might have something to do with it.

I must backtrack to Saturday.  We left Suttons by eleven-thirty headed for Georgetown to take care of a few items.  I convinced Bill to take a DNA test for genealogical purposes, and wanted to put his specimens in the mail, but the post office closed at eleven on Saturdays.  We wanted to see if the library had a census of the Sampit Methodist cemetery because somebody has erected a memorial to my great-great-grandfather, George Washington Skipper, who isn’t buried there.  I am curious as to who did it and why, however, the library was also closed.  I pitched In the Blood to a couple of bookstores, including one that is currently occupying an historical building that is mentioned in the book, Sandy did a little Christmas shopping and we surveyed the devastation left by a recent fire that destroyed seven historic buildings on the riverfront.

Before we made it into Georgia I got a ticket in a hick-town speed trap.  The speed limit sign was behind a bush and the zealous cop came after us with lights and sirens as if he were on a call to get a cat out of a tree.  All the other cars on the street were whizzing past us but that California license plate was just too much for Officer Nelson, a portly black cop—so I didn’t even get the satisfaction of calling him a redneck—to resist on the last day of the month with his ticket quota obviously not yet filled.  Again I blame the malignant GPS, because without her unwaveringly bad council, we would have been on the interstate.

Our goal was Savannah, but we needed to enter Savannah by the backdoor because during the aforementioned deluge we had stopped at Pep Boys to buy some new windshield wiper blades that didn’t work.  Again the GPS led us on a wild goose chase, telling bald-faced lies and obfuscations, but by a miracle, we found Pep Boys again and pleaded our case.  David, a middle-aged black gentleman, offered to solve the problem with a smile.  He gave it the college try, but after nearly an hour, he said, “We’ll refund your money.  Take the damn thing to Jaguar.”  So now we have an expensive pair of new wiper blades that we got for free but they don’t work.  I shudder to think what Jaguar charges for wiper blades.

It was dark by the time we left Pep Boys and the malevolent GPS bitch was in her glory.  She ran us around the west side of Savannah in large circles for over an hour.  I finally got pissed and bought a map which didn’t help much since the street we were on wasn’t listed in the index.  Eventually, after many testy remarks flowing both ways, we found the hotel and realized it wasn’t the one we expected.  However, it was within walking distance of the riverfront, and despite a three-hundred and fifty guest wedding running amuck in the lobby, we stayed.

More to follow.

PS: Face of the Angel is being featured by Indie Tribe as a Christmas Special.  Since they were kind enough to feature me, I should reciprocate by providing their link, and here it is:  http://www.theindietribe.com/special-christmas-showcase-ho-ho-ho/  You may be surprised to know that Dr. Mengele was fond of Christmas and even played the role of Saint Nicholas once for a Bavarian family’s children.

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