“He probably tried to buy cigarettes and got lost as I did!” I told the clerk when I explained that my husband had never been that late getting back home. The last thing he did every evening was to purchase a pack of cigarettes so he would be set for the next day.
I had remained in the lobby with my eyes peeled on the front door, angry and seething on the inside, while acting casual with Gail and her husband who had insisted on keeping me company. I was thinking Steve must have gone to dinner with the German couple, assuming I would follow, and would have realized that I returned to the hotel.
“Tourists get interested, try new things, give in to their vices,” Gail said, being polite.
“Steve has no vices” I said, sitting up, “besides, he’s very cautious these days.”
“All of us are,” Gail was ignoring my bad mood, keeping an even tone, “it was a terrible thing for Americans on 9/11. Look at how the whole world has been affected too!”
“Yes. ” I said, remembering that the world was a scary place.
“There is nothing you can do sitting here.” she added, “Check your room for messages. People leave signs.”
I was numb.
Oh my God! She thinks Steve would leave a note, just leave a crummy note.
I walked up to the desk for a spare room key since mine was in the purse I left behind.
The clerk checked the computer. Then he asked: “Would you go under a different name?”
“My name is Silvia Arnold. My husband is Steven Palmer. We're checked under Palmer."
“The computer shows that you checked out.”
“No. I have not checked out. I’m with the tour group, Umberto’s!”
The clerk made some calls. A manager showed up. Umberto came down from his room.
Gail offered to help and I snapped back with something or other, and she left me there at the counter, with no room key, no purse and no husband in sight.