Daughters of the Dirt / Sarah Higdon

by Diane Fleming

When I tell my kids I'm taking a vacation without them, they worry that someone will kidnap me. I wonder who would kidnap a 42-year-old woman? And what will they do with me when they get me? Have me vacuum the front hallway? Go grocery shopping?

But it could happen. What I don't tell my kids is that it DID happen. I was in Las Vegas with my then-husband, but we weren't together much. He loved to play craps and Blackjack and maybe he loved to do other things too—but I don't want to think about that. So one night, in the hotel room, I was alone and naked and asleep on top of the bed. It was hot. The shades were open.

We had a room on the 22nd floor of a downtown hotel. Who could possibly see into our window? I woke up to voices and to two men on a scaffold outside my window staring at me. They were washing the window. Las Vegas window washers work at night while it's cool. I stared back for a minute: They had smiles on their faces.

They crashed through the window and swept me naked onto the scaffold and lowered us to the ground. One grabbed my feet, the other my arms. The rest of me jiggled as they blindfolded me and swung me into the back of a truck. They drove through the desert. In a shack, they untied me. I stood in a room of naked soft women.

They kidnapped many lonely women in Las Vegas; women like me, women who didn't look like sex -- not when you saw us in casinos next to our husbands. We, the wives, were unremarkable. Some of us had painted toenails and shaved legs. Some of us wore shorts with elastic waists and shirts with embroidered sentiments. Some of us had eyes dusted with faint blue eye shadow and hair corkscrewed with perms. We were all nervous, away from our children.

Our husbands were bent over craps tables, dice in hand, arms pulled close, arms released, rolling. Our men drank cheap gin and tonics and jingled coins in their pockets. Their dicks were as big as their winnings.

Now, far from the casino, we had no husbands. We looked like sex. I grabbed the shortest Mexican and pulled his face to my chest. I touched his black hair and felt his muscles through his T-shirt. He ran his hands over my soft vacationing body.

Our husbands didn't miss us. They spent their winnings on girls who looked nothing like wives.

Back at the hotel, my husband asked, "What did you do last night?"

"I had my windows washed."

"Oh that's nice dear," he answered

My kids remind me of this night. They remind me of brown men with squeegees and soft dust-free rags. They remind me of men with desire. They remind me of nights of kidnapped fulfillment.
Diane Fleming has published a book of poetry, Trip to Normal, and recently won first place in The Austin Chronicle's Short Story Contest (2001) for her story, Valium.  She is currently a technical writer at Vignette. She is grateful to her writing teachers from SWT and Austin Community College, to her writing group friends, and to her once and future therapists. Originally from the Northeast, she found her true home in Austin six years ago where she lives
with her son, her boyfriend, and her hairy dog, Buddy.