Mandy is all alone now with no one to turn to.
The cabdriver stared at me in disbelief. I could see his fingers curling around the steering wheel and squeezing it like he wished the life out of the poor thing.
The anger was aimed at me though. I felt really ashamed as I sat quietly in the passenger seat and took in his angry stare.
"I've driven you all the way out here and then you tell me that you don't have any money?" he muttered, mostly to himself. I looked out the cab's window at the shabby and sleazy hotel which we had parked outside of.
The big neon sign over the building said 'Trashcan'. It was kind of hard for me at first to see what it said since most of the lamps were dying, flashing or already were stone dead.
At least they weren't lying about the hotel's lack of luxury and standard.
"I'm sorry," I told the driver. Even if it was an honest apology I don't think he cared. The sight of his clenched jaw was enough for me to understand that he wanted me out of his life. Immediately.
My guess was confirmed when he shot me a glance which basically told me to fuck the hell off.
It felt bad to be using that man. He seemed like a good guy and probably needed the money. I would be happy to give him some if I wasn't totally cashless.
With Gabriel out of my life I didn't have a single, rotten dollar for myself since I had been living on his salary. And at Jared's place I had forgot to ask him for a couple of bucks to pay for the cab with.
Quite pathetic, if I may say so myself. A woman in her early thirties should be able to provide herself with enough money to stay on her feet.
That's what I get for not applying for a real job.
Maybe Gabriel had been right all along. Maybe I needed to grow up.
I unfastened the seat beltquickly and jolted out of the cab, afraid that the driver would kill me if I didn't. He then took off, spraying me with a shower of gravel and dust as the tires ripped the ground apart.
My arm flew up to my face to save it from being hit by a small rock. Even as the cab was out of sight the cloud of dust still lingered in the air.
I coughed as I by mistake inhaled the dry and dirty air. Tears found their way out of the corners of my eyes and trickled down my cheeks as I started walking towards the entrance of Trashcan.
"Everything will be fine," I told myself. Not even for a split second did I believe my own words of comfort. Nothing would be fine and nothing would be OK. I had nowhere to live and no one to turn to. Well, I had one option, but that was my final way out.
Gabriel was gone. Jared was gone. And Sally...
My eyes widened. I had totally forgot about Sally, my sweet golden retriever, who was at Gabriel's house. The house which had been ours, Gabriel's and mine, just a couple of hours ago. Then I turned his proposal down and told him that I had been seeing someone else.
But how could I have forgotten about Sally? I needed to go back to the house and get her.
Getting Sally would have to wait until the morning though. First and foremost I needed to sleep for a couple of hours. I was exhausted both physically and mentally from the surreal day I had lived through. After that I had gotten some rest I would figure out how to get back to the house and get my dog.
Where me and Sally would go after that was something I didn't want to be thinking about. I had no plans whatsoever.
I had just let everything slurp down the drain so swiftly. My house. My boyfriend. My social status.
And here I am now, outside of the trashiest hotel in America. The saddest part is that I'm afraid to walk inside. I'm afraid that they will deny me a bed to sleep on because I can't offer them any money.
As I walked closer I watched the outer wall. Its grey cement cover had deep cracks in it and various lizards and bugs crawled up and down on it. Some of the animals vanished into the cracks. It made me shiver.
Could it be possible that some of those lizards ended up in hotel rooms? I guess the hotel wasn't called Trashcan without a good reason.
Inhale. Exhale. I took a deep breath before pushing the front doors open and entering the lobby. It was almost as shabby on the inside as it was on the outside.
The walls were painted in a brown colour of which big flakes were starting to fall off. There weren't much furniture to talk about either. Two sofas, a rug and a desk with a female standing behind it. I guess she was the one I needed to talk to.
My feet wandered over to her. The repelling smell of vomit and mold tortured my nostrils and I was trying hard not to gag. Who wanted to sleep in a place like this?
In my opinion it wasn't even fancy enough for druggies and hookers.
"Hi," I said as I reached the desk.
The female looked up from her magazine and looked at me from top to toe before closing the magazine. She was probably in her early fifties even if she did a good job trying to hide her age with tons of makeup and hair dyed in an unnatural red colour.
Not all of us are comfortable with the fact that time changes our appearance.
"What can I do for you?" she asked. I looked at the small name tag on her chest. Diamond.
Seriously? Diamond? Was that her real name? In my ears it was the name of a porn star.
"Well, Diamond..." I started and smiled nervously, "do you have a bed here for me? I don't have any money, but I'm sure we can agree on something."
Diamond's eyes stared dully at me. Her face was expressionless.
"No money, no room." she said sternly and I realised that she wouldn't give in. That lady was made of iron. I started searching for a second alternative, looking around the lobby.
My eyes stopped when I reached the two sofas.
"Can I sleep on the sofa then?" I asked pleadingly. She furrowed her thin eyebrows before nodding slowly.
"I guess, but just for the night," she said and I hinted something in her eyes. Kindness. Good to know that some people still possesses a heart.
I gave her a faint smile and walked over to the trite black sofa. When my butt collided with it I realised that it wasn't comfortable or soft at all, but I wasn't in the position to complain.
Curling myself up into a human ball, I soon fell asleep.
When I woke up hours later it was to the sound of someone talking to me. "Get up. You have to get up," the reedy voice said over and over again.
I groaned and reluctantly let my eyes flutter open. Hovering over me stood Diamond, hand on her plump hip. By the look on her painted face she wasn't amused.
"Good. You're awake. Darling, you really have to leave now," Diamond said. I scowled and rubbed my aching temples in circles softly.
The walk to Gabriel's house would be long and what I would do after that visit was a blur. An unwritten page in the book of my quite pathetic life.
Reluctantly, I swung my legs over the sofa and let my feet collide with the floor. How had I been able to sleep with my ballerina flats on?
I looked at my feet and wiggled my caged toes to get some blood flowing through my body again.
I looked up at Diamond and gave her the most grateful smile I could ever manage to give.
"Thank you for letting me sleep here," I said and got up to my feet, rolling from my heels to the balls of my feet a couple of times to get my body used to moving again.
"You're welcome," Diamond said and used her hands to poof up her fiery red hairdo before she pointed towards the door. Without looking back I walked out of Trashcan and started my long journey to Gabriel's house.
God, it feels so weird to say Gabriel's house when it used to be the home of both me and him.
With the help of some signs I could find my way into town and from there I knew which way to go to get to the house.
It was late afternoon when I walked up the driveway, past the black Volvo and towards the front door. My hands were shaking violently when I knocked on the door.
The sound of loud barks coming from Sally was the first thing which reached my ears and I allowed myself to smile. She was so precious, that dog.
Then the sound of footsteps coming closer got dominating. I sighed and got ready to be yelled at. The door swung open and there stood Gabriel.
He was just wearing a pair of boxer shorts and a loose T-shirt. The most surprising thing about his appearance was his scruffy hair and his puffy and blood-shot eyes.
Gabriel had been crying. Over me? The thought of Gabriel being sad about losing me had not even crossed my mind.
He wasn't happy to see me, but not angry either. It was like he had been expecting me. I expected him to sting like a bee, but he didn't.
"Mandy," he started, the voice dry and hoarse like sandpaper, "I've packed your bags. You'll be able to find all of your clothes there together with your cell phone."
He pointed towards a quite small suitcase standing next to him in the hallway. I nodded slowly. It was hard not to get nostalgic as I looked at my ex-boyfriend.
We had had some ups and many downs during our three years together.
I suddenly remembered things like our first date. The one which got ruined by Gabriel's high roommate who decided to throw pillows at us.
And then our first kiss on the porch to his parents' house. Oh, memories.
"I came for Sally," I said coldly to receive a nod from Gabriel. Was I really that predictable?
"We can discuss that later when you've find a place of your own," Gabriel said. It seemed quite fair to me. What would I do with a dog if I couldn't give it food or a roof over its head?
That Gabriel acted so sensible and reasonable made me feel shocked. Why couldn't he had been like that all of the time?
I had been expecting an angry outburst, but I guess it felt good that we were handling this like adults. Gabriel grabbed the suitcase and pried it into my small hands. When his skin brushed against mine I tensed up.
He was too close. Too damn close.
I took a trembling step backwards to make it impossible for Gabriel to touch me. He let his head hang low and looked at the floor as he spoke.
"I left you some money in the suitcase to get you going. Give me a call when you're ready to talk about the situation with Sally," he said slowly.
I couldn't see his eyes, but I knew that Gabriel was sad. I heard it in his voice. I could see it in his slouching body language.
"Bye," I whispered and turned around.
"Wait!" Gabriel suddenly cried. I spun around and looked at him with confusion in my eyes. What did he want from me?
Finally Gabriel looked up and I could see a fresh trail of sticky tears running down his swollen face. His bottom lip was trembling.
"Why did we end up like this?" he asked and choked as he tried to hold back sobs. By seeing Gabriel, the man who always hid his emotions, so vulnerable touched something within me. I felt tears starting to break away from my eyes too.
The back of my hand furiously wiped them away as soon as they left my eyes though.
"Because we weren't meant to be together."
With that I turned around again, with the suitcase in my hand, and started jogging away from my past. Not until I was a block away, I stopped and opened the suitcase. My hands searched for the cool shell of my cell phone and soon found it.
I called for a cab.
My plan right now was to leave town. I had nothing left for me here.
I had to go with my last backup plan.
Bye Los Angeles, the city of angels, and hello Parker.
Can it get any more pathetic than this? I was heading to my parents' old farm in Arizona.