I’m on tour at the moment. Everywhere we’ve gone, (We being yours truly and Bonnie Abney, both a real person and a character in Second Watch!) there have been traffic difficulties of one kind or another. We haven’t seen these accidents, but we’ve been caught up in the traffic tangles afterward or been just ahead of two fatality traffic accidents, a logging truck that spilled its load, an eighteen wheeler’s tire blew up next to us and sprayed chunks of rubber onto our windshield, a fatality helicopter crash between Phoenix and Prescott, and a truck that took out five parked cars a block from one of our venues. Fortunately our car wasn’t one of the parked ones. Last night we came into Tucson on Oracle Road late in the evening. Less than an hour after we got home, Oracle was closed in both directions due to yet another accident. We haven’t been LATE to any events, two to three a day, but it’s been a nail-biter almost every time, even when we left early enough that arriving on time shouldn’t have been a problem.
In other words, we’ve been living in a pressure cooker for the last two plus weeks since the book came out September 10. (It debuted as # 7 on the New York Times Bestsellers List, so thank you for that!) I’m talking about the pressure cooker of getting to and from events, not about the events themselves. More on that, later. And I think it’s starting to get to us.
Night before last, Bonnie came back to a hotel with a friend and left her purse in the friend’s car. The problem was discovered soon enough that the friend was able to bring the missing purse back. Yesterday at a library event in Chandler, it was my turn. When it was time to leave the library, my purse was among the missing. I remembered getting out of the car and slipping the car keys into my purse. I remembered using the button on the car door to lock the car. I remembered sitting in the library before the event to do some e-mail correspondence. When the event was over the purse wasn’t there, and I panicked.
Our luggage was in the car. We were 30 miles from the car rental agency. We had no car keys. All of the credit cards were in my purse. So was my driver’s license and ID. And we were due at another event, seventy miles away, in a little more than three hours. We called Hertz. They said they’d send a lock-smith. I called Amex and turned off the credit cards. My husband turned off the others. We summoned a police officer to make a police report. And all the while the clock was ticking.
Sometime later, after I stopped hyperventilating and while we waited for the deputy to arrive, I went out and looked inside the car. There was my purse. On the back seat. I hadn’t remembered putting it down when I went there to retrieve the next set of bookmarks. I went back into the library to call people and say that now all we needed was the locksmith. Then Bonnie went outside. And opened the door on the PASSENGER SIDE!!! When I locked the driver’s side door with the button, the other doors didn’t automatically lock.
How do you spell STUPID? But, as Bill told me later, this was a far better kind of stupid than the other one! We’re in Tucson. We’re at the house and I’m sleeping in my own bed. We have no credit cards at the moment, but they’re coming. Actually, I DO have credit cards, but all of them are canceled.
So that’s the story of getting to events, but that is NOT the story of the events, because getting to them is so astonishingly worth it! The people who are talking to us during the signings for Second Watch and the ones who send us e-mails after reading the book are absolutely breathtaking. It turns out, J.P. Beaumont isn’t the only one haunted by images and ghosts from those bad old days. It turns out he isn’t the only one who has a Vietnam wartime box in which he has tucked away all the mementos from that time in his young life. And he isn’t the only one who has kept to himself what he lived through back then all the while leaving behind a trail of broken relationships with his family members. When I wrote Second Watch, I though I was writing fiction. It turns out I was writing far more truth than fiction.
So this has been an emotional tour. The presentations themselves, shared between Bonnie and me, are emotionally draining for us and for the people in the audience. For a pair of “women of a certain age,” we’ve been going full tilt. It’s hardly a surprise that we’ve lost a couple of purses in the process.
But is it worth it? Absolutely. Now I’ve got to hit the showers. The clock is ticking. We have to be wheels up in a little over an hour.
Bonnie, have you seen my purse?