This tall cactus is a common one in Arizona.
"We can't spend the night in the motor home," my husband stated flatly. "It is way too hot to sleep in here."
Leaving the first motor home, disabled, at a garage early that morning, we had climbed back into the Toyota and returned to Yuma where the second motor coach was meant to be readied for us. It was disheartening, to say the least, to find that once again inspection had not been carried out and the second of the purchased units was not road ready. The salesman involved attempted to hide in his office, while we wearily pointed out to the service crew that the engine would not idle properly, oil was pouring from the on-board generator, the retractable steps were not retracting. The service people did their best on short notice. A younger salesman came out, tried to make amends by tightening the bolts on wobbly mirror brackets. "The boss is not going to be pleased about this," he said. It seemed useless to reply that we were not pleased, either.
Late in the day, feeling some trepidation and not a little anger at the irresponsibility of the salesman, we again started a return trip to Wyoming. Temperatures were well over 100 degrees F. and within a few hours it became evident that the A/C was faltering. I moved from the impossible heat of the front passenger seat to the center section of the unit where we had lowered the blinds. While husband doggedly drove on I sat with a book, sweaty fingers sticking to the pages, mopping my face with a tea towel.
Shortly before dusk we came into a small, dusty town, nameless now in my memory. A modest looking motel appeared on our left and J. hastily drove into a large empty lot the other side of the narrow side street. We clambered stiffly down from our oven-like coach and approached the motel office on foot.
We were intercepted part way across the courtyard by a slender, olive-skinned man, who scuttled ahead of us through the office door. It was quickly obvious that English was not his first language. He was most insistent, dramatically so, that we should not leave the motorhome with the Toyota behind it over in the lot. "People open doors!" he declared anxiously, raising small hands in the motions of one turning a knob and opening a door. "But I've locked the doors on the motor home and on the car" my husband replied. "No, No," the man pleaded, "They break, they steal. Must bring over here. Bring inside my fence." He flapped wildly toward the neat white fence surrounding the property.
J. conceded in the face of such insistence and crossed back to move the coach. I stood between our suitcases while the little man repeated his worried broken sentences. "Yes, yes," I replied, feeling as though I too was reduced to sparse phrases. "See, there, he will drive it over here." As the motorhome and its car trailer lumbered over the stretch of road and eased into the driveway, our host danced about, arms flailing to indicate that J. must move around the circular courtyard and then position the entourage under a tree.
Trying to find enough energy to get myself to the door of the room where we were to lodge, I bent toward the suitcases. With a quick dart the man intercepted me, seized the bags, and repeating the number of the room he sprinted ahead. Dashing inside he twitched the controls of an air conditioning unit, flung open the door of the bathroom. He rushed to the fridge behind the entry door and pointing at the bottle of water I clutched he announced, "Water in here--cold". I stood, dazed, saying at intervals, "Yes. Yes, I see, Thank you. Thank you."
While J. tinkered at the motor home, trying to find the source of the A/C problems I took stock of our accomodations. Inside and out the cinder block walls were painted white. The floors were a pale grey tile. Two beds were covered with inexpensive quilted spreads of faded blue and white, windows were draped with a cheap silky fabric. I realized that the whole small cubicle was immaculate although there was no aggressive odor of cleaning products. The casement windows were functional unlike those great immovable expanses of plate glass in chain motels. I cranked open the window and flopped onto the bed, holding the flimsy curtain aside to let the evening breeze stir the warm still air of the room. The pillow, the quilt covered mattress, the very walls exuded trapped heat. Closing my eyes I could still feel the motion of the coach. I opened them, lulled by the sight of cottonwood leaves moving against a shadowy evening sky. I didn't hear J. lock the door or turn on the shower. I jerked out of my stupor when he came to the side of the bed, smelling of shampoo, and gently removed the fold of the curtain from my fingers.
The floor of the bathroom was warm, the fixtures gleaming; the towel I pulled from the rack after a shower held the heat of the day. I rubbed moisture from my hair, rummaged a nightgown from my suitcase. Settling between the warm sheets I wondered muzzily if the small energetic man or maybe his wife, hung the motel's linen to dry in the sun and wind. There was a brief creaking as J. rolled onto his side in the other bed. The elderly air conditioner whirred bravely against the languid heat. Blessed by the utter simplicity and cleanliness of the small space, we slept.