The Lone West Motel
Hope for Carol-Melle Candy reigns high on top of a long steel pole where years ago she installed a flashing yellow and green sign advertising The Lone West Motel. Carol-Melle hadn’t hoped then—she just knew that east- and west-bound passengers on I-81 would pour into her lobby vying mercilessly among themselves for one of the eighteen choice rooms available at The Lone West. After twenty years Carol-Melle may have lost some conviction but her hope seems to go as high as the yellow and green sign outside and she waits patiently behind the reception desk, as she has ever since her war widow’s pension provided her the capital to invest in The Lone West.
Carol-Melle had no idea what a wonderful match her marriage had been until she became a widow. Until then, it had been only too predictable a scenario—Johnny Carl Candy had got her pregnant, they got married, Carol-Melle miscarried, and before either of them could hop the bus to Reno for a divorce, Johnny Carl was shipped off and shot dead in Korea. The widow’s pension allowed enough for easy loan terms and capital improvements, like the sign, for The Lone West. The day of the sign-raising was not only a visible demonstration of entrepreneurial intent—for Carol-Melle it was a big, flashing yellow and green declaration of independence.
So happy was the sign-raising that Carol-Melle simply had to make an occasion out of it. That night, she invited her neighbors to witness under the starry desert sky the first illumination of The Lone West insignia. The expected guests (customers were unexpected guests) included Cal from the filling station, Tom from the Highway Patrol, Luann from Highway Patrol dispatchers, and Kickaround Bill, whose occupation being unknown had earned him the aforementioned nickname.
Carol-Melle was not beautiful, but for the occasion of the sign-raising party she had “done herself proud.” A Toni home permanent and Clairol rinse transformed her hair into an upswept defiance of human hair’s normal color and disposition. She dressed her small, voluptuous frame in a flimsy tent-blouse with palazzo pants, all in various shades of blue-green polyester. Carol-Melle’s gold lamé slippers, normally reserved for New Year’s Eve, completed the affair.
Carol-Melle eventually gathered all her guests on the patio outside the office for chips, dip and daiquiris….
[This “Traveling Entertainment” was begun while Peter was on a bus trip into México, 20 December 1987 and further developed during March 1988.]