I can honestly say that I didn't actually see Dolores for the rest of the trip. Laura asked about her a few times, but all Franklin did in response was mumble unintelligibly (I think it was Latin) and Jim seemed inclined to studiously avoid all mention of the topic, once he had exhausted his analogies to bygone Hollywood divas (his riff on Joan Crawford was highly enlightening, I must say).
Still, I had my suspicions. I couldn't help but wonder if Dolores had managed to get some wet-behind-the-ears desk clerk to slip her our key card. I opened the door gingerly when we arrived back at the room after dinner, but all was quiet. I noticed one or two odd things, though; when I left for the show, I was sure that I shut my computer down, but when I went to log back in again, I found all kinds of crazy stuff in the browser cache. (Most of them were, um, not consistent with Blogger's usage guidelines, shall we say, but here's a shot of one of the tamer ones:
Somehow I doubt Dolores' interest was scientific, you know?)
And during Franklin's booksigning, a redwell folder full of contracts was thrust into my hands by a prominent literary agent specializing in the crafts field. I must admit that my curiosity got the better of me. The top sheet was a marketing proposal seeking permission to use Dolores' likeness to sell merchandise; when I got to the page with a submission from the Thunderbird company, using the tag line "The hooch of choice for hoochie-mamas," I could read no more.
When we were ready to check out on Sunday morning, however, all doubt was removed. A sobbing chambermaid ran down the hall and pressed this into my hand:
And this odd notation was scrawled at the bottom of our Express Checkout bill.
In any event, all was quiet as we packed up the station wagon, sated by our weekend with friends and fiber. As we got into the car and fastened our seat belts, Laura timidly asked if we were going to wait for Dolores.
Franklin snapped, "We're leaving now. My plane leaves at 2:15 and I'm not missing it."
Laura looked uneasy. "But how will she get hom--"
The sound of Buddhist chanting from the backseat drowned her out.
"I think we'd better leave, Laura," I said quietly. "Franklin's starting to get stressed out and if we don't go now, he won't make his plane."
The chanting grew louder.
Jim helpfully clapped his hand over Laura's mouth and we drove away.
After I got back Sunday night, photographs with taunting messages began arriving in my email account via dummy addresses:
Et tu, Kathy?
And Dolores apparently went on a fact-finding mission to determine what, if anything, Mel wears under his kilt:
As the kids were helping me bring in my bags from the car, Nick showed me an empty Cristalle bottle. "Why did you bring this bag full of empty bottles home, Mommy?" he asked innocently. "Don't they recycle in New York?"
"Let me have those, sweetie," I told him quickly. And as our recycling bucket filled with empty bottles of Johnny Walker Red and cheap tequila, a wistful smile appeared on my face. Good old Dolores. I missed you, my friend.