In late April, I drove to Mexico to retrieve my eldest child, my daughter Kym, from her most recent adventure in teaching. The plan was for us to drive together in my VW Bug to New England, via everywhere we two had never been.
I picked my first story for Issue Six in a tiny room above a tienda that sold beer and packets of tongue-shriveling salted peanuts. Despite the glacial pace of my ancient Tandy, despite the idiosyncrasies of the Spanish keyboard (The "@"—where did they put the "@"???), despite a transparent gecko zigging over the cracked stucco wall and a runny-nosed eight-year-old next to me placidly decapitating space aliens, I was so impressed that I wrote, "Let’s buy it, Mark." I hit "send"--and the room went black. The young alien-slayer groaned aloud. The teenaged girl in charge dropped her issue of Vanidades and her scarlet-tipped fingers flew to her mouth.
Now that, I thought, is one hell of a story.
Days later, I selected a second at a coin-op computer in a Grand Canyon campground laundromat. It, too, was a marvelous story, but our T-shirts and socks did not burst into flame.
I rejected a story in Moab, Utah, in an Internet café (the public library would’ve required me to buy a card for $20). And I excised a rogue semi-colon and inserted two commas while my Vancouver, BC, hotel’s business manager stared out the office window at his soggy town and said, shaking his head, "Still raining, eh?" In Banff, while snow fell and our sleeping bags and tent dripped on the suitcases piled in the back of the Bug, I savored a warm mot juste in a coffee shop. I thrilled at a dashing turn of phrase in Bozeman, even though the sparkles on the ceiling of our room at the Lewis & Clark Motel and Casino had kept me awake the night before.
But I must confess, I turned down several tales in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It took a lot to impress me in Fort Wayne.
So much for my adventure. Now, as you peruse this issue, you will have yours: exotic women, dreamers, lovers; robbers and murderers; even a neurotic dog. And you don’t have to leave home.
Oh, brave new world!
May VR Six find you, Gentle Reader, in a warm, dry place, surrounded by familiar faces, safe from blizzards in Durango, mosquitos in Sundance, car auctions in Murdo and gale-whipped downpours on Highway 89.
Copyright © 2001 Sue O’Neill
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