Nora Jane

Nora Jane by Ellen Gilchrist Read Free Book Online

Book: Nora Jane by Ellen Gilchrist Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ellen Gilchrist
“Be awfully quiet. I am an alcoholic
     and I need some of this whiskey. I need some whiskey in the worst way.”
    Nora Jane changed into the nun’s habit, wiping the makeup off her face with a bar rag and stuffing the old clothes into the
     bag. Next she opened the cash register, removed all the bills without counting them, and dropped them into the bag. On second
     thought she added the pile of IOUs and walked back to the door of the ladies’ room.
    “Please be a little quieter,” she said in a husky voice. “I’m getting very nervous.”
    “Don’t worry, Miss. We are cooperating to the fullest extent,” the judge’s bench voice answered.
    “That’s nice,” Nora Jane said. “That’s very nice.”
    She pinned the little veil to her hair, picked up the bag, and walked out the door. She looked all around, but there was no
     one on the street but a couple of kids riding tricycles.
    As she passed the card table she stopped, marked a ballot, folded it neatly, and dropped it into the Mason jar.
    Then, like a woman in a dream, she walked on down the street, the rays of the setting sun making her a path all the way to
     the bus stop at the corner of Annunciation and Nashville Avenue.
    Making her a path all the way to mountains and valleys and fields, to rivers and streams and oceans. To a boy who was like
     no other. To the source of all water.

    S HE HAD WRITTEN to him, since neither of them had a phone.
    I’ll be there Sunday morning at four. It’s called the Night Owl flight in case you forget the number. The number’s 349. If
     you can’t come get me I’ll get a taxi and come on over. I saw Johnny Vidocovitch last night. He’s got a new bass player. He
     told Ron he could afford to get married now that he’d found his bass player. Doesn’t that sound just like him. I want to go
     to that chocolate place in San Francisco the minute I get there. And lie down with you in the dark for a million years. Or
     in the daylight. I love you. Nora Jane
    He wasn’t there. He wasn’t at the gate. Then he wasn’t in the terminal. Then he wasn’t at the baggage carousel. Nora Jane
     stood by the carousel taking her hat on and off, watching a boy in cowboy boots kiss his girlfriend in front of everyone at
     the airport. He would run his hands down her flowered skirt, then kiss her again.
    Finally the bags came. Nora Jane got her flat shoes out of her backpack and went on out to find a taxi. It’s because I was
     too cheap to get a phone, she told herself. I knew I should have had a phone.
    She found a taxi and was driven off into the hazy early morning light of San Jose. The five hundred and forty dollars she
     got from the robbery was rolled up in her bag. The hundred and twenty she saved from her job was in her bra. She had been
     awake all night. And something was wrong. Something had gone wrong.
    “You been out here before?” the driver said.
    “It’s the first time I’ve been farther west than Alexandria,” she said. “I’ve hardly ever been anywhere.”
    “How old are you?” he said. He was in a good mood. He had just gotten a $100 tip from a drunk movie star. Besides, the little
     black-haired girl in the backseat had the kind of face you can’t help being nice to.
    “I’ll be twenty this month,” she said. “I’m a Moonchild. They used to call it Cancer but they changed. Do you believe in that
    “I don’t know,” the driver said. “Some days I believe in anything. Look over there. Sun’s coming up behind the mountains.”
    “Oh, my,” she said. “I forgot there would be mountains.”
    “On a clear day you can see Mount Diablo. You ought to go while you’re out here. You can see eighty percent of California
     from it. You came out to visit someone?”
    “My boyfriend. Well, he’s my fiance. Sometimes he has to work at night. He wasn’t sure he could meet me. Is it far? To where
     I’m going?” They were in a neighborhood now,

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