One of the reasons I dislike coming out to Jackson this time of year is the number of people around, particularly those noisy ones who rent neighboring condos in this rural complex. Our neighbor these past few days was annoying us mightily; he sat out on his deck, separated from us by only a thin wood partition, smoking and talking in one of those resonating voices that, no matter how low you speak, still manages to find its way, along with the cigarette smoke, into next door rooms. I was building up to the point where I felt I might say something when the unspeakable happened.
Pre-rodeo, Cristal went out the front door, barefoot, to test the weather. I followed suit, the 88 degree temperature making normal western attire somewhat unbearable at the moment. I pulled the door shut, a reflex action of going through a door and, unbeknownst to me, it was locked from the inside. LOCKED. OUT. OK, so I’m an idiot. But admitting that fact didn’t help get us inside. No key, no car key, no phone, July 4th afternoon, no credit cards, no money, no emergency number to ring even if we’d had the phone, no one in the office anyway and, to my especial anger, no combination for the lockbox right there in front of us containing a spare key for guests. If you’ve never been in this situation, you cannot possibly imagine how vulnerable you feel. Cristal’s words, “OK, let’s not panic” gave absolutely no solace. Since I was the one wearing shoes, I walked around the building to see if anyone could help. It turned out the only person here was Mr. Smokey Voice.
Smokey very kindly first tried the combination he’d been given for his lockbox on ours. No luck. Then, miracle of miracles, this small, lithe man went back inside and, at second story level, managed to get over the partition to our deck, walk inside through the slider screen and let us in. Our Hero! He and his wife were leaving this morning and would accept no wine, no gift, and hardly a word of thanks. When we returned from the rodeo and fireworks later that night, he happened to be outside loading his car. We tried to say thanks again but it was as if he didn’t hear us, as if we didn’t exist.