Part Three – What the hell is Heterochromia?
“Sitting on a park bench
Eying little girls with bad intent
Snots running down his nose
Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes, hey, Aqualung”
“Drying in the cold sun
Watching as the frilly panties run, hey, Aqualung
Feeling like a dead duck
Spitting out pieces of his broken luck, oh, Aqualung”…
~Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull
One of the many things I wanted to do on this trip is drive the length of Trail Ridge Road. Due to a late snowfall, the road was still closed. I had been calling the information hotline with the hopes it would be open to travel before I left Estes Park. On the way back to the Jeep, I made a quick call and found out that the road had just opened. I formed a plan to drive the road this afternoon.
Walking from the parking lot of the hotel, to the main entrance, I saw the white poodle again. He was running through the hedge maze in the front of the hotel and looked like he was having a great time getting lost. His tongue was hanging out of his mouth and he looked like he was smiling. He stopped and looked up at me for several seconds, as if he were inviting me to run with him. While we were locked in a staring contest, his smile turned into a tooth baring growl, as if the dog had recognized someone he didn’t like. He could have easily jumped over the low hedge maze and attacked me, so I averted my gaze and walked quickly up the stairs of the hotel.
The porch of the hotel is huge. On the right and left of the main entrance, are several white wicker chairs, with tables to match. This would be a perfect viewpoint to drink a morning mimosa and stare out at the show covered mountains in the distance. Entering through the main doors you will first notice a beautiful round table with a fresh flower arrangement in the center of the room. Just past the table was the grand staircase. The grand staircase was the star of the room, it had a rich looking stair runner framed by dark curved handrails and contrasting white spindles. To your immediate right sat a green Stanley Steamer. They had positioned a mirror under the car so you could see every detail. On the far right of the lobby are a set of large doors leading to a grand ballroom. On the far left of the lobby is the entrance to the Cascades restaurant. The grand staircase is bracketed by the check in desk on the left and the antique elevator on the right. There are two large fireplaces on either side of the room. In front of each fireplace are four overstuffed brown leather armchairs and a small coffee table. Fires were raging in both fireplaces.
I decide to sit for a few minutes in one of the overstuffed arm chairs by the fireplace to the right. I sank into the chair and sat staring at the fire for several minutes. Fire had always had a hypnotic effect on me. I could stare at a fire for hours, not thinking of a thing. It was only time my mind was ever truly blank. After a few minutes, I snapped out of my trance and decide to use my iPhone to check in on Facebook. I had lots of friends on Facebook. Having friends on Facebook is like having a frozen dinner in the freezer. It’s not really food, and these weren’t really my friends. Still, I liked seeing what they had to post. Living vicariously through them was a treat. I glanced over at the fire again and saw the blonde standing in front of me. “Great,” I thought, “Here we go again.” and quickly looked back at my phone.
“So…that sucked.” She said.
“What was that?” I asked, looking at her over my reading glasses.
“They cancelled our tour.” She said, “I had my entire afternoon planned around that stupid tour.”
“Oh,” I said, “I guess it did suck.” Not letting on that I had rescheduled the tour for the next day.
“I’m Amber, by the way.” She said as she stood on her toes, leaned in towards me, and held out her hand for a formal handshake.
“She must be in sales.” I thought. I stood and took her hand. “Ken.” I said, “Nice to finally meet you.”
I was going to offer her a seat, but before I finished the gesture, she sat in the in the chair next to me. “Can I be honest with you?” she asked.
“By all means.” I replied, “You strike me as someone who can be dangerously honest.”
“Well, I didn’t get a refund, I decided to reschedule my tour for tomorrow.” She said.
I chuckled at my good luck, “You did? Imagine that?”
“Why is that funny?” she said curtly, as she slid to the front of the chair.
I decided not to tell her that I had also rescheduled my tour. “Nothing,” I said, “It hit me a little sideways, I guess. No offense.”
She slid back, relaxing. Then, “I just need to figure out what to do the rest of the day.”
I thought for a moment, “They offer some great horseback tours in town. You probably have time to catch one of those.” I told her. I was fighting the urge to invite her to drive Trail Ridge Road with me.
Waiting for her reply, I found myself staring at her face. She looked like an elf without the pointed ears. Small in every way she couldn’t have been more than five feet tall. She had large eyes, almost too large for her face, a small pinched nose, and full lips on a rather small mouth. The oddest thing about her face, was that she had two different color eyes, one green and one blue.
“What?” She asked.
“Nothing,” I said, “I just noticed that your eyes are two different colors.”
“I’m not surprised,” she said, “you’ve hardly looked at me the whole day.” After pausing a few seconds, she said, “It’s called heterochromia.”
I thought for a moment about how I should respond. I remembered once laying on the beach in Florida, one of the many vacations Amy and I took with our group of friends. I saw an attractive woman in a bikini walking toward us, and I casually elbowed my friend Rob, and nodded for him to look at the woman. As the woman walked closer and after a few moments of lecherous staring, I finally realized that it was Rob’s teenage daughter. I had to beg his forgiveness and since then I try to make sure I don’t stare women in general, especially younger women.
“You are a very beautiful young lady.” I said, “It’s just that I have two daughters who are just slightly younger than you. Staring at you makes me feel like a creep.”
“So, you were not looking at me to be polite? Interesting.” She said, as she cracked a small smile and stood at attention in front of me. “How old do you think I am?”
She had me feeling awkward. “If I had to guess, I would say, maybe twenty-five or twenty-six?”
She laughed aloud and sat back in the chair, “Trying to be polite again?” She said, “Nice, but I’m thirty-four.”
“No way she was thirty-four”, I thought. I looked back down at my phone and said, “That really doesn’t make staring any better, does it?”
Her chuckling slowly subsided. “You’re right. I never thought about it that way. I guess that makes me feel better.”
After a few minutes of silence, she stood up again. I looked up at her over my reading glasses again and not wanting to make eye contact, quickly looked back at my phone.
“I guess I better think of something else to do today.” She said hinting, as she moved her hands down the front of her legs to adjust her jeans. “This hotel is too expensive to just sit yapping all day.” She added with sarcasm. She spoke with a slight country twang, I guessed she was from somewhere in east Texas.
“Damn it!” I thought to myself, sometimes I hate being a nice guy. I looked back up at her and said, “I’m going to drive Trail Ridge Road this afternoon. You’re more than welcome to join me.” I lied.
“I thought they closed that road.” She said.
“I checked earlier, they opened it back up this morning.” I told her.
She thought for a few seconds, “I guess that’s better than sitting around all day.” She said.
“Don’t let me twist your arm.” I said, secretly hoping she would opt out.
“No, no,” she replied “It sounds fun. I’m going to run up to my room and change. I’ll meet you back here in what, half an hour?”
“Sounds good,” I said, as she turned toward the grand staircase. Then I yelled, “Dress warm. It can be twenty or thirty degrees colder on top of that mountain.”
She kept walking and did not turn around. Then she held up her hand, her fingers indicating the universal “Ok”.
“Nice ass.” I thought. “Cut it out, Aqualung”, I whispered to myself and stood up to walk to my room.