Theresa Laminella moved to the desert to get away from people and to work on her pottery in peace.

Then her boyfriend moved in, who was also there to get away from people, except then they were in the same mud hut together and the only people they had to get away from was each other.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” asked Theresa, molding a teapot with an elephant snout, so that when you poured the tea, it looked like the elephant was unloading a trunkful into your cup.  She was 43 years old and she had gotten fired from 12 different service jobs for insubordination (waitress, hostess, hospital administrator, hotel manager, repeat) but when you’re 43, it stops being insubordination and becomes simple aggression.  It’s hard to have a problem with authority when authority (your boss) is 13 years younger than you.  So she quit her last job (folding jeans at the Gap) and she came out to the desert, and pretty soon here comes Roger, like she thought he might, and he works on his paintings in that corner and she works on her pottery in this one.

“Yeah I have an appointment with the natural healer,” said Roger, wetting one hand with blue paint and smearing a desperate line down the center of his canvas.  “Beautiful” he said.

“What are you getting done?” asked Theresa.  Maybe they should have sex.  Except she already took a shower this morning.  Anyway he seemed preoccupied, and she needed to finish the elephant.  Theresa had trouble with follow-through.   She bought all the Artists’ Way books but there was a bookmark lodged in them middle of each one.

“I’m getting my ears candled,” said Roger.  Maybe they should have sex, he thought.  Nah.  She would probably think it meant something, and he needed to focus on his painting.  And once he got his ears candled, he knew it would open him up to an entirely new plane of consciousness, and that maybe he could get the Rodeo Scorpion coffeshop to display his Portrait of a Bad Dream–a 3′ X 5′ mess of black and gray, which looked a little bit like bats sitting down at a formal dinner, but it wasn’t.  It was deeper than that.

“Have fun,” said Theresa, adding ears to her teapot.  The ears were flaps, right?  Elephant ears were more like cocker spaniel ears than like fox ears, if she remembered right.  Or were they?

“I will.  You want to come along?  He’ll do 2 for the price of 1.  or, 4.  Four ears.”

“I’m good,” said Theresa.

“Okay see you later” said Roger, and he left.

Theresa sat there for a moment staring at the wall.  Insubordination.  Fine.

Later she walked 4 miles to the nearest pay phone and made a prank phone call to The Gap.