When she got home, Camille called a real estate management company, one that she had dealt with many times when she worked at the mortgage company. She put the house up for rent as of the first of the month, nine days away.
“That’s too low if it’s in as good shape as you say,” Marge, the agent told her when Camille told her how much to rent it for.
“Okay, add a hundred dollars,” Camille said, thinking all she needed to do was cover the mortgage, maintenance, insurance, and taxes.
“How about adding a thousand dollars.”
“Really,” Marge said
“Of course I’ll have to see it,” Marge said, then asked, “Will you rent to students?”
“Graduate students only.”
“Make them prove it.”
Giving herself no time to think about what she was doing or why, by three o’clock, Camille had signed the management agreement. Marge would take care of all maintenance, the insurance, and any problems with the tenant.
On Saturday morning, Camille closed her bank accounts. She took all of it in cash, then bought a cashier’s check. At noon, she checked into the Four Seasons Hotel for the rest of the weekend. And what a weekend it was. Lying by the pool drinking margaritas, talking to an out-of-town businessman named Gabriel. He was tall and lean and looked like he’d be good at sports. Not exactly good looking, but sitting in the hot Texas sun, alleviated of job and husband, on her fourth margarita, he seemed attractive enough because he seemed to be listening to her.
“I major’ in art at UT, which is where I met Walker, but we’re getting divorce’ now and I minor’ in Spanish cause I like Frida Kahlo painting style and I meant to go shplore her life in Mexico City after I graduated.” She stifled a belch. “I used to pain’ all the time. Sometimes I was days just lookin’ at a blank sheet of watercolor paper before I put down even one brush shtroke. Even one.”
She hiccupped. Gabriel signaled the waiter and ordered some water.
“I use’ to wear t-shirt with pain’ on them. And my hair in a braid. I dress’ up for graduation in a Mex-i-can dress, the real kind made outta cotton with big purply and red flowers embroider’ on it.” She made big round circles over her chest. “My dad tol’ me to take accounting course’ so I had a job while I was wait…waitin’ to sell my paintings, which is how I got my job at the mortgage company where I got fired yesserday.”
She finished her fourth margarita.
“Do you still paint?” he asked.
“Affer I took the job, I still paint, but it was differen’. You know?”
“I didn’t haffa justify painting anymore. I was in the Pecan Street Festival. You know about that?”
“I sold pain’ing through gallery in Dallas and Houston and New York, but then it just all stopped sometime. I don’ remember when. But Walker. He didn’ like it cause I wore jeans alla time and he was startin’ a law thing. A law office thingy. So, I had to give up.”
She looked at Gabriel and nodded.
“I used to make my own paper, ya know.”
“How did you do that?” he asked.
“Well, you gotta cook wood pulp to a pulp,” she giggled and had to blow her nose. “Then you put it through a machine that mashes it. We did all tha’. But you can skip it and just shred paper napkins in a blender with water and boil it up, then blend and mash it on a piece of screen like you use in a window. Mash it flat and let it dry up.”
“Sounds like even I could do that,” he said.
“Some of tho’ sheet I made were very texextural.”
“Lumpy. Peaks and valleys. Not big peaks and big valleys. Just liddle ones,” she said rambling on. “I could still paint on them. Easy. I mean the peaks and valleys.”
“Lumpy. Hmmm. I never thought paper could be so interesting,” he said.
Camille was feeling dizzy.
“I think I better go inside,” she said.
“Here’s my card,” Gabriel said, pulling a card out of his wallet. “Do you have a card handy?”
Camille shook her head.
“How about writing your phone number on a napkin. That way I’ll remember your paper-making process.”
Gabriel signaled a waiter to get a pen. Camille tried to focus her eyes as she wrote her number on his cocktail napkin.
“Scuse me,” she said, feeling like she might vomit. “Nice to meet...”
“A pleasure,” he said as Camille stumbled off.
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Genre – Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG13
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