Chapter Twenty five
After a morning of shopping, Ellie, Lia and Enrico followed a haughty waiter to a table in the hotel dining room. They ordered chicken cordon bleu, which was delivered to their table accompanied by fresh, tender green beans and scalloped potatoes. After a baked Alaska for dessert, Lia persuaded Ellie to go with her to a shoe store she’d seen on the way there. They left Enrico with enough money to pay the bill and arranged to meet him later at the hotel.
Lia wanted to look at every shoe in the downtown area. Although they found the perfect footwear to match their ensembles, Ellie wanted nothing more than to go back to the hotel. If she had wanted to spend her time in stores, she might as well have stayed in Chicago.
When Ellie eventually got back to her room, she lay down on the bed and fell into a deep sleep. An hour later, something awakened her, and she jumped up to look out the window. There she saw the top of a long, black automobile at the curb. Aldon got out and stood looking up. He must have come earlier to find out where their rooms were located. She waved and he motioned for her to come down. Although her granddad had taught her to wait for a gentleman to knock on the door, she shelved the rule, threw on her new, green, tea-dress, grabbed her light, cream jacket with the embroidery on it, and ran down the stairs.
In the lobby, she looked around for Aldon and saw him though one of the glass panes in the revolving door. There was a woman in one of the other enclosures. He let her get out, then maneuvered his glass box so Ellie could get into it with him. They had to stand close and synchronize the movement of their feet, but before Ellie had time to get in step Aldon had somehow wafted her out onto the sidewalk. He took her hand and they ran for the car.
As they pulled away, Ellie realized she hadn’t told Lia where she was going. She knew her employer would pout, but she’d like some time free from Lia’s possessiveness. She looked straight ahead as the car slid around a corner leaving the hotel and its guests behind.
Ellie had noticed that once the sun went down, the heat of the day passed quickly. She rolled up the windows on her side, and Aldon rolled his up too.
“Cold? Come sit close to me. My brothers always said I give off as much heat as a pot-bellied stove.
As she moved closer, she recalled how standoffish she had felt when they first met. He laid his hand open in the seat between them and she put hers into it. He was warm, indeed. He actually radiated love and comfort.
“Let the lower lights be burning,” Aldon began a chorus in his light tenor, and the joy in Ellie’s heart reached a new level. “Send a gleam across the wave.” They had sung that one in church several times now, and she loved it. “Some poor fainting, struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save.”
They were on the open road approaching the foothills of the Rocky Mountains when the stars came out and began to twinkle as the sun receded behind the mountains. She knew she should feel guilty for running away from Lia and Enrico, but it was tiresome trying to please someone else all the time. Now, it pleased her to be with Aldon instead of just thinking about him all the time.
As the road began to rise, he let go of her hand to maneuver the curves. On their left, Ellie saw a rustic roadhouse. They parked and when they got out of the car, the air was sharp and fragrant with the aroma of hickory smoke coming from a brick chimney.
“Here’s the Oklahoma Inn. It’s run by one of my war buddies. I think you’ll like him. It’s the only commercial place where you can get real barbecue and it’s so good I’d eat it every day if I could.”
The door opened to a blast of noise and heat. A cowboy band played, “California Here I Come.” The room felt cozy with the odor of bathed bodies, Evening in Paris perfume, and hair pomade. Underneath, she smelled the pine that had been carpentered into walls and booths. Her mouth watered when she smelled the meat grilling under a vent. A tall man in a sauce-stained apron set down a pair of tongs and came to wait on them. Aldon jumped up to shake his hand, then the two men slapped each other on the back, a semi-violent rite that seemed strange to Ellie. She saw, though, that the two of them were simply hiding their liking for each other under a manly presence.
“This here’s my buddy, “Oklahoma,” Aldon said.
“How do you do?” Ellie stuck out her hand to shake the huge paw shoved toward her.
“How-do, ma’am. Welcome to, “Oklahoma Inn. I’m Oklahoma.”
“Oklahoma is his nickname, it was because that’s where he’s from. He was a code-talker during the war.” Aldon told Ellie. The big man grinned when he saw the puzzled look in Ellie’s eyes.
“I’m half Choctaw, half white. I lived with the Indians then with my white folks off and on. I learned both languages. When my Choctaw brother went to war, I went too. All we did was tell secrets in our own language. The Huns were flummoxed. My buddy here,” he slapped Aldon on the back, recommended I come to Denver for a job and I got on here. Eventually saved up enough to buy the place. He motioned for Ellie to sit down and then sat next to her squashing her up against the wall.
Ellie had believed that Indians were stoical and close-mouthed, but Oklahoma nodded and smiled and went on talking at Aldon. “That Aldon, he’s a fine man. We weren’t in the same division, but when we found out how much we both liked horses we got to be real good friends.”
When they finished the meal, Aldon stood and held out his arms inviting Ellie to dance. Hoping the evening would never end, she tried to concentrate as he led her in the two-step to the tune of, “Putting on the Ritz.”
DiVoran’s Promise Posters, Paintings from Go West as well as other art can be purchased as note cards and framable art