Don't Hex with Texas
By lunchtime, I’d come to the conclusion that a watched pot never boiled, so the surest way to make the person from MSI show up would be to take off for a while. I picked up lunch at the Dairy Queen, then went over to the motel to eat with Nita. She was sitting behind the front desk, her nose buried in a pink book with a martini glass on the cover. She jerked to attention when the bell on the front door jingled as I entered. “What brings you here?” she asked.
“I needed a break from my crazy family,” I said, in all honesty. “Sometimes I worry that I’ll get caught up in the madness and become just as bad as they are.”
She groaned. “Tell me about it. You should have seen the ceremony my mom did this morning.
Incense, chanting, all that.”
I thought the room smelled different—not the usual scent of surface cleaner and pine air freshener.
“Why? What happened?”
“My dad watched the security tapes from the other night, when the window vanished. There wasn’t anyone on there for half an hour before and after the time I’m pretty sure I heard something. The tape’s too grainy to tell exactly when the window went away. Of course, Mom had a big freak-out. I actually think the time on the security camera is off. It didn’t get set for Daylight Savings Time a few years ago, and it hasn’t been right since, but she’d prefer to believe there were evil spirits.”
“Your mom and my mom must be drinking the same Kool-Aid,” I said as I joined her on her side of the counter. “My mom’s become convinced that there’s something very odd going on in town.” Never mind that she was right. It was her enthusiasm for finding oddities—and the possibility that it would get her into trouble—that worried me. And now I wondered if the missing window might have something to do with our town wizard.
“It’s because this town is so incredibly dull that you have to imagine things to find any excitement at all. If my dad had to conform to every cultural stereotype and run a motel, why couldn’t it at least have been one in a real city? We could have been near Six Flags. Or maybe the Alamo.” Nita waved her book at me. “It’s no fair! Why can’t I have this kind of life—having cosmos at a bar after work with my friends and going on lots of hot dates with successful men? And to think, you were there and you left it behind!”
“It’s not quite the way it seems in books.”
“So you didn’t go out with your friends and you didn’t go on dates?”
“Well, yeah, I guess I did. But it wasn’t as fun as it sounds in books. I got set up on a lot of blind dates that never went well. Some of them were real disasters.”
“You know what they say, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince.”
I shuddered. “That’s not as effective as you’d think,” I muttered under my breath.
“I mean, quantity doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll ever find quality.” Plus, men who’d been turned into frogs tended to have some lingering issues once you broke the spell and turned them back into men.
“It still sounds better to me than spending my life sitting behind this desk. Is one date too much to ask for?”
“You’ve never been on a date?”
“Oh, come on Katie, you were there in high school.”
“Yeah, but surely since then?”
“Okay, maybe one or two in college when my parents didn’t know. But nothing since then. Who would I date around here?”
“Steve Grant is apparently still single.”
She laughed out loud. “Oh, good one! He’s exactly my type!” Once she got herself under control she said, “Well, if you aren’t willing to run away to the city with me, maybe we can take a trip for a couple of days and do some girl stuff like go shopping and have drinks and flirt and all that. What do you say?”
“I say it sounds like fun. I just have a few family things I want to straighten out first.”
“I heard about your mom’s fainting spell. Is she okay?”
News really did travel fast in this town. “Yeah, the doctor said she’s probably fine. We’re keeping an eye on her for a while, just in case.”
“Okay, then I’ll start angling for a couple of days off, and then we can hit the city! What do you think, Dallas or Austin? Dallas has the shopping—not that I can afford much, but it would be fun to look—and Austin has the nightlife. I know, I’ll look it up in the tourist guides and see what looks good.”