Walking towards the eastern part of town alongside Lissie, John learned more about the girl. She had lived in New York for much of her life. At around age twenty, she got sick of life in the big city and moved to Salton.
"I picked Salton because it was just far away from any big town." she said.
John replied, "I picked it because my truck broke down nearby."
This brought a grin to Lissie's face. Her demeanor quickly grew more staid and she spoke.
"You don't like being stuck here, do you?" she asked.
"When I first got here, all I could think about was my broken-down truck. I'll admit I am anxious to get back on the road. I planned on traveling to Los Angeles to find work."
Lissie seemed excited at this revelation. "You're going to Los Angeles?"
"As soon as I get my truck repaired."
"So, not for a while?"
"Well," John replied, "Looking at how things are going now, no."
"You want to go too, don't you?"
"Okay, mind-reader, yes I do."
"Why? You seem really happy here."
Lissie looked away from John, and said, "I'll tell you after we get in."
Looking the same direction as the girl, John could see a small house, lit up by a single light on the porch. Vibrant sunflowers in her yard matched the house's paint. She walked towards the front door and pulled a key from under the doormat. As she pushed open the door, Lissie looked towards John and spoke.
"Come on in. I assure you, there are no booby-traps."
John grabbed the guitar case by his feet and went inside the house. Looking around the entryway, he could see that it was filled with mementos of Lissie's travels. Framed postcards depicting the Empire State Building, the Grand Canyon, and other destinations, hung from small tacks in the wall. The postcard that attracted John the most was one displaying the Eiffel Tower.
Lissie moved into the kitchen and put a kettle on the stove
From the living room, John asked Lissie, "You've been to Paris?"
"I wish. My father sent me that when he moved across the pond."
"Was he there for business?"
"Well, it sure as hell wasn't pleasure."
Lissie looked towards John and continued.
"The guitar was just one of the thing he sent my mom and I while he was over there. My mom got bottles of wine and I got boxes of chocolates. When he finally came back to the States, he brought a small guitar."
"Your first one?"
"Yeah, he taught me how to play and I loved the instrument. When I got older, I started to play in a few bands.
"Why did you leave New York?"
"I had a lot of fun in New York for some time. Eventually I just got sick of all the hustle and bustle. I needed somewhere quiet and Salton offered that."
"So why are you so anxious to leave Salton?" John asked.
"I'll tell you later. You haven't told me your life story, yet."
John repeated what he had told Bill and Martha Hodge.
"You left a few details out. Didn't you?" asked Lissie.
"Tell me more."
"I'll tell you later. It's a bit personal."
"Don't worry." Lissie told John. "I understand. I went through the same thing with my mother."
"She ran a tight ship. Unfortunately, I had no siblings, so I could only turn to music for solace. What did you use? You know, to escape?"
Lissie laughed and John continued.
"Actually, I used books to escape from my troubles.
"Let me guess," interrupted Lissie, "Kerouac. London. Thoreau."
"That's right. The usual naïve, optimistic teenager's reading material."
The kettle on the stove began to whistle.
"I'll be right back," spoke Lissie.
John took advantage of this momentary lapse in the conversation to observe the features of the living room. Looking about, he could spy stacks of sheet music along one of the walls. The music appeared hand written. John walked to the stacks and picked up one sheet. While he gazed at the paper, Lissie walked back into the living room, carrying two steaming mugs.
"So I see you found some of my compositions."
John replaced the sheet and looked back at Lissie, startled.
"It's okay," she said, "You can look. Just don't spill any tea on them."
Lissie handed a warm mug of tea to John.
Noticing that he was about to protest to tea at such a late hour, she added "Don't worry. It's doesn't have any caffeine."
As John sipped his tea, Lissie rambled on about her compositions. He only caught a few phrases, including "This one I wrote after I won the chili contest," "This one I wrote after I started working at the diner," and "This one sucks. Don't look at it."
"It doesn't suck." John spoke. "Sure, the lyrics make absolutely no sense, but the melody's great."
John, setting the sheet back on its pile, walked over to a sofa on the other side of the room.
Lissie spoke. "Feel free to sit. I know you're tired."
John plopped onto the couch. Lissie, who sat down on a nearby chair, began to speak.
"Now wait a minute, Lissie, you promised me you would tell me why you want to leave Salton."
"You're right. Fortunately, for me, I don't rightly know. So what are you planning on doing once you reach Los Angeles?"
John gave Lissie a disapproving look.
"Okay, I'll tell you. You think I left New York because of the 'hustle and bustle,' don't you?"
"Is that not true?"
"It's partly true. The main reason is a lot more complicated. I was college-age back then, and none of the bands I was in lasted very long. My parents labeled me a 'dead-beat,' and kicked me out of the house."
"So you were homeless?"
"No, some of my friends let me stay with them. Band mates, mostly. Oncetheyhad all kicked me out, I realized that I needed to get my act together. I heard about Salton from some other friends and decided it would be a good place to live, a place I might be able to start a business. I knew nothing about owning or operating one, but I eventually got the hang of it. I've been somewhat successful but now I'm beginning to miss the hustle and bustle of the big city. I've spent years in Salton, though. I really want to get back to the big city."
Lissie paused and looked out the window.
"Think you'll go to Los Angeles?" she asked.
"You know, I might stay in Salton. It's a pretty nice town."
"Oh," Lissie said. "I was hoping you and I could travel to Los Angeles together. We could hit it big."
"Youcould hit it big. I'm not so sure about myself."
"Of course you could. You're pretty handy with a guitar."
John yawned. Looking at his watch, he saw that it was well past midnight. Through another yawn, John spoke.
"I should get back to Bill's house."
"You'll fall asleep on the sidewalk before you reach Mr. Hodge's home. You can sleep in my house tonight."
"Really?" John said, stifling another yawn.
"Sure. I've always wanted to have a sleepover."
"You're not being serious are you?"
"Not about the wanting a sleepover part." Lissie stood up. "Well, see you in the morning."
As Lissie walked down the hallway, John could feel his eyelids grow heavier. He unsuccessfully attempted to repress another yawn and fell asleep.