Monday, April 22, 2013

The Fountain-of-Youth Lotions and Potions, Little America, Wyoming

Albino, Fountain of Youth, Little America, Wyoming

 The thin man in the powder-blue suit with the purple eyes was hawking his lotions and potions. Sondra Lee Bradford paused at the hotel’s gift shop as he smiled at her.
        “This is for you.” He said, holding up a lotion tube and a green jar of capsules. “Fountain of Youth. I guarantee it.”
        Sondra looked imperiously at the odd salesman and continued to the registration desk where Roberto anxiously awaited her. He had seen Sondra drive up in a burgundy Porsche Cayenne. He had gaped as the elegant woman in her early sixties stepped out of the SUV. She was dressed in black boots, form-fitting jeans and a mahogany leather coat with a lavender scarf at her slender neck.
         The spring snowstorm had closed I-80 and forced Sondra to stop at Little America in Western Wyoming. She had been eager to push on to Sun Valley, Idaho for her reunion, but there were no parallel side roads and the sprawling complex loomed as the yellow lights flashed, saying I-80 was closed.
         Greeting Sondra with a warm smile, Roberto quickly arranged accommodations close to the office and restaurant. He was solicitous, recognizing serious money: her Porsche, clothing, and aristocratic features, the tilt of her head with eyes wide and nose in the air.
         Roberto loved the way the truly wealthy carried themselves. He called Maria, his daughter, from the restaurant to take the desk, personally escorting Sondra to room 107, a suite across from the registration office.
         As they passed the gift shop, Sondra paused. She had a nose for business, having tripled her family’s wealth. The albino in the powder-blue suit smiled unctuously and they exchanged words. Sondra bought a tube of lotion and a bottle of capsules, handing the salesman a fifty-dollar bill. She then turned to follow Roberto out the door and called sarcastically, “Fountain of Youth, who knew?”
         “You have no idea.” The salesman replied.
         Sondra settled quickly in the room, took a hot shower, and then paused at the mirror with her lotion and capsules. The albino had said to take one capsule, but she was tired from the long drive in the snow and took two capsules. Wary of a skin reaction, Sondra cautiously applied the lotion to the right side of her face, massaging the cinnamon-smelling ointment into her budding ageing spots, as well as under the dark circle beneath her right eye, and then touched the wrinkles at her neck.
        She looked at herself in the mirror. She was still a classic beauty with sandy hair and deep, brown eyes. But time was getting its claws into her. Sondra sighed and turned to the bed, relishing a nap before dinner.
         Sondra awoke with a start as a large tractor-trailer truck went past her window. It was dark and the lights were on outside, revealing a steady snow falling as night took hold. 
          She went into the bathroom to splash her face and looked in the mirror. Her eyes went wide and her mouth fell open. The right side of her face was the look of a twenty-something woman. The left side was an attractive woman in her sixties.
          Sondra’s mind raced. Her initial thought was to call her personal physician, Dr. Nelson. Instead, she took the curious lotion and once again smelled it, catching the attractive cinnamon scent. She squeezed out a small amount and carefully massaged the left side of her face. Sondra enjoyed her fine wine in the evening, and on the left side of her nose were spider-like veins that she artfully concealed with makeup. She rubbed them vigorously with the albino’s lotion.
          Returning to the bed, Sondra lay back, crossing her hands over her chest, assuming the dead-man’s meditation pose, slowing her breathing and clearing her mind. 
          Almost thirty minutes had passed when Sondra sat up and went to the bathroom. Anxiously, she peered in the mirror at her face, which was now clear and youthful. Even the nose veins had vanished.
          Sondra pushed back from the sink and her mind spun.  She could make millions and had to chat with the albino about an investment in his lotion. When she met her friends in Sun Valley, they would be astonished at her youthful appearance. Sondra would wave them away, saying it was diet and exercise. She would keep the albino to herself.
          Feeling ecstatic, Sondra’s agile mind spun with the opportunities. But suddenly an icy fear struck Sondra. She looked hard at the mirror and now saw the face of a teenager with the body of a slender girl yet to blossom. Confused, Sondra made her way back to bed.
         The next morning Roberto waited at the registration desk. He had been keenly disappointed when Sondra did not show for dinner. Now he looked forward to conversing with her at breakfast. But so far, Sondra was a no show.
          At nine, Roberto took his passkey and went to 107, tapping lightly and calling out. But no response, and cautiously Roberto opened the door, again calling. What if she were in the shower?
          Roberto listened carefully, but no running water. Instead, he heard a gurgling sound, a classic “goo-goo”. He stepped into the room and was astonished to see a baby on the wide bed. The toddler was on her back, arms waving in the air. The face was turned toward Roberto and big, brown eyes watched him, giving him a wide smile, as if recognizing him. 
          Cautiously entering the room, Roberto checked the bathroom and the closet. But Sondra was gone. Had the baby been with her in the Porsche? Had she gone back to the SUV after Roberto left? Roberto grabbed the phone and called the desk, ordering Maria to come to the room. 
          His obedient daughter was quickly by his side and Roberto told Maria to watch the baby, perhaps get a bottle of milk from the kitchen. He would start a search of the extensive grounds, being discreet as he knew the missing woman valued her privacy. Had Sondra gone for a walk and gotten lost in the snow, or had she hooked up with a truck driver? Roberto shuddered at the thought. 
          Racing back to the desk, he bundled up, ran outside and checked on her Porsche, but it was in place. He jumped on the all-terrain and drove to the western edge of the property, methodically working north to south. In an hour he had scoured the entire area, but no sign of Sondra Lee Bradford. 
          Now worried that someone had abducted Sondra, Roberto returned to the room to check on Maria and the baby. When he entered the room, Roberto was astonished to find only Maria who had fallen asleep. The little baby had vanished. Had the woman returned, grabbed the baby and gone? But Roberto saw from the window that the Porsche was still parked by the office. What was going on?
Three months later, Roberto and Maria sat at the picnic table beneath the large “Little America” sign. The police had come and gone. The Bradford family’s lawyer with private investigators had descended, then left puzzled. There was no trace of Sondra Lee, or the baby.
          As Roberto daydreamed in the summer twilight, Maria took his hand. “I’m pregnant.” She said.
          Her father stiffened and Maria shook her head. “No, no, it’s not the new chef, nor the groundskeeper. This is different.” She said. “Trust me.”
          Before her father could react, Maria smiled and whispered. “You are going to have a lovely, baby girl.”
         “Another daughter?”  Roberto asked his eyes wide.
         And this daughter will make you rich.” Maria responded.

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