We call The Big Boy that for obvious reasons...he's 6'5". But he's more commonly known as The Nicest Guy You Ever Met, which is total BULLSHIT if you're married to him but...isn't that the way it always works?
I left his ass in New Orleans. As in, I loaded up my luggage, the rental car thingy, OUR airline tickets and the keys to MY car that was sitting in the airport at home. And I had the hotel call a taxi and I LEFT HIS ASS. I originally had his driver's license in my pocket, too, but then I realized that Homeland Security wouldn't understand about his PISSED OFF WIFE, and he might not could get on a plane. Ever. (That one took a LOT of debate...ever?)
Once every five years or so...I know that because we've been married over 20 and this is only the third or fourth time he's ever done this...TBB pulls a mean drunk. That's okay, after the first time I just left his ass alone. BE MEAN. Sit out on the patio and mumble to yourself and every now and then come in and fix a drink and slam some things around. Don't be louder than the black and white Perry Mason reruns I'm watching. This, too, shall pass.
Except we were in New Orleans. So after dinner, where he argued with me for five minutes that THEY HAVEN'T BROUGHT THE CHECK while I tried to HISS out the fact that THE RECEIPTS ARE IN YOUR WALLET, we went back to the hotel. Let's go take a shower and find something on television...which translates into "Get your big ass in the air conditioning and sleep it off."
Something got lost in the translation and about 10:30 he announces he's going to go find the cigar guy and sit on the curb with the "boys," (that would be the vagrants who lurk at the edge of the parking garage, smoking) and smoke a cigar. That's nice. Have fun.
At 11:15 my cell rings...he's at House of Blues. Great music. Do I want to come listen? No, thank you. I'm in bed. Have fun.
Phone rings again at 11:30. Music is great! Wanna come listen? No, thanks. Have fun.
At 3 a.m. I woke up, and he wasn't there. Now, had we been in Vegas or something I'd have never thought twice but...New Orleans? Three a.m.? So I got up, expecting his drunk ass to come stumbling in any minute. Called his cell phone a few times before I realized it was on the desk. Turned off.
Four a.m.? No drunk ass. I am...contemplating concern. He's a big boy. Nice guy. Low key. He's sitting in a bar somewhere listening to blues. I fix coffee, which I can't drink but that's another story. We went from 15-minute intervals to five. Looking at the clock. Looking out the window at the deserted streets. Got to be an explanation.
Five a.m.? I go down to the front desk. I am alternating between MAJOR pissed off and...dread. This isn't normal...he doesn't do shit like this. And that's what I tell the front desk guy who looks at me like (I know this in my head) he's looked at one million other middle-class/boring/mother/middle-aged women whose husbands are...out. Carousing. And while one half of me is INDIGNANTLY denying that we are anything LIKE that, the other half has NO IDEA where TBB is.
The Front Desk Guy says wait until six a.m. Police station is out the door, right, two blocks. We'll go check then.
I go back upstairs. I am honestly starting to get afraid now. There is no reason he hasn't called. He always calls. At the same time, I'm trying to decide which country club plan would be best for my children, after I cash the insurance check. At least I won't have to be frugal with back-to-school supplies. Maybe we can scatter his ashes on a golf course in Scotland.
It's five thirty. The phone doesn't ring. The sun in lightening the Mississippi out my window and from where I see, there are no bodies floating against the shore. That's something.
Six a.m. I go back downstairs. Front Desk Guy says, just go down there and check. Maybe he had too much to drink and is sleeping it off. Everything will be fine.
Every step down the street was...a dilemma. I'm gonna kill that son of a bitch. (What if he's DEAD?) How can he damn DO this? (What if he's in a gutter somewhere and no one will help him?)
There are a lot of places I never thought I would be, but the police station in the French Quarter in New Orleans is pretty high up on my list. I've lived in THIS town for most of my 52 years and I don't even know where the police station HERE is....PEOPLE LIKE ME DON'T GO IN POLICE STATIONS.
I don't have high blood pressure, but I was shaking so badly I was afraid I'd fall on the steps.
Oh, great. Then they lock ME up for drunk and disorderly.
It was unpleasant. The first guy was an ass. The second took my name and cell number. Normally, you can't file a missing person report for 24 hours, but if TBB's not back by noon, I can come back. They enter his information into the computer. Can we talk SURREAL here? Yes, I know his birth date. Yes, we're married. No, he doesn't have any problems.
I was STILL trying to deny anything was wrong so I jokingly said, "If this were Vegas, I wouldn't even have missed him yet." And the second cop said, "Well, have you checked the casino?"
You've got a fucking casino? HERE? I thought they drowned. I KNOW some of them shut down several years ago. Didn't they? CASINO?
The cop says, "Go down there and get security to announce his name." I smiled, thanked them for their time and started back to the hotel. I am NOT walking the streets of New Orleans FUCKING Louisiana looking for him and asking total strangers to PAGE my husband in a CASINO. Ain't gonna happen. He wouldn't be at the casino, he was listening to music. He was too drunk to have been up this long...over 24 hours now. He's dead. He has to be dead. He BETTER be dead, because if he's not he's gonna WISH he were dead.
I go back and sit on the edge of the bed and watch the clock. We're waaay past five minute intervals now...I'm counting time with heartbeats. 6:45. Seven a.m. No drunk ass. 7:15. 7:15 and one-half. No fumbling key.
At eight o'clock I got up and got dressed and hit the streets. Walked to the casino. When I walked in the guard said hello, and I said I'd lost a husband. Guard asks what he plays, I say he shoots craps. All the way down, last two tables on the right.
There he stood. Bleary-eyed. Rolling dice. Surrounded by a group of people who were so happy to know The Nicest Guy They Ever Met. I walked up to the table and said, calmly, "The police are looking for you." And very calmly turned around and walked out. To the hotel. Took my toys and left.
The last I heard, it was midnight last night and he was in the airport in Birmingham. Which is STUPID because, HEY DUDE!!! I TOOK THE CAR!!!
I figure it'll take him at least a day and half to walk home. I could probably remodel the kitchen before then.
(An aside here. I am waiting on the oral surgeon to get back into town this afternoon so that he can, at best, do a root canal. The grits at Mr. B's Wednesday night? That's the only solid food I've eaten since Tuesday. The bottom side of my mouth is coming OFF. My face is swelling. I can't sleep on my left side. I REALLY didn't need this shit.)