Here are some basic facts about Loretta. She is 49. She is left-handed. She lives Taos, New Mexico. Her favorite color is red. She wears wedgie sandals, of a style she discovered in 1978, when she ordered a dozen pairs. She works as a part-time librarian and Home Health Aide. She has a two bedroom bungalow with a mortgage she can barely afford. She lives alone. One of her eyes is glass.
Give Loretta a plot. Conflict? Struggle? Resolution?
LYNETTE TO LORETTA
She replayed the message Myron left on her phone. “There was a fire at the jail complex, and in the all the ruckus he escaped, Loretta. You need to be on high alert.”
She threw down the phone and sank into the red upholstered chair beside it. Now what was she going to do. Her contact from the Witness Protection Program was her only connection to her past life. She’d made sure to erase anything that could trace her to Taos, New Mexico. She had even changed careers, dyed her hair, and wore glasses, even though she didn’t need them.
She took off the red framed glasses and rubbed her left eye, remembering why it was not her own – why she now had a glass eye. He’d almost killed her that night. She’d discovered his connection to the drug cartel when she overheard a conversation on the phone. She had picked up the extension in her apartment bedroom at the same time he answered the phone in the living room and had listened long enough to hear the delivery date for a shipment of cocaine and the plan for a murder.
She had tried to act nonchalant, but her boyfriend, Demetri, had heard the click when she hung up the extension and had confronted her. That’s when the violence began. He had beaten her to within an inch of her life and left her to die. When she hadn’t shown up for work at the County Library the next day, her friend Mona had come to her apartment, found her, and called 911.
She had found out later that the police had been following Demetri for the last year and were now hoping to talk to her. They stationed a guard outside her hospital room while she underwent several surgeries to repair the damage to her face. She’d lost her left eye and now had a metal plate in her head, but would recover. She gave the police all the information she heard, which put Demetri behind bars. It would cost her the life she currently lived, but with no family and at the age of 48, she was fine with it. Lynette disappeared into the Witness Protection Program and became Loretta.
In Taos, she bought a small two bedroom bungalow and began training as a Home Health Aid. She worked at the local library on the weekends, just because it was her first love. Money was tight but she was getting used to the new arrangement. Her only regret was leaving behind her best friend Mona without an explanation
Now a year later, she had a job as a Home Health Aid for an adult foster home and was settled in, but she never let her guard down. She picked up the phone to return Myron’s call.
“H..h..hello.” The woman was crying. “Who, who is this?”
“Ah, I’m calling for Myron,” she answered, stunned that someone had access to his private phone.
“You’re too late. He’s dead,” the woman wailed.
Myron was her only contact. It would now be up to her to protect herself. She tried not to panic. She was resourceful, she was a quick thinker. She had to figure it out. Should she go to the police here? No, there was no one to confirm her identity or her predicament.
Loretta was scheduled to work the Friday evening shift, so she dressed in her usual red scrubs and red wedgie sandals . This was the last pair of a dozen she had bought thirty some years ago, the only thing she brought with her to Taos from her past. That and the can of Bear Spray that Myron had given her.
Her assignment that evening was Miss Ellen, a 92 year-old sweet lady who was wheelchair-bound and attached to an oxygen tank. Miss Ellen’s handsome son Robert came to visit her every evening.
“You know Loretta, my Robert is a widower and has a good job and a nice car. He’s only 55 and he should get married again. Maybe you’d like to have coffee with him.”
“Thank you Miss Ellen, but I’m not ready for any attachments right now,” she said, blushing as she looked up to see Robert at the door.
“We’ll have to see about that. Perhaps dinner tomorrow?” Robert said giving her a friendly smile.
“She’d love to,” said Miss Ellen, “wouldn’t you dear. The Cozy Corner would be perfect. She’ll meet you there at 6 p.m.”
“Ah, well, okay then,” Loretta responded. She did think he was handsome and their brief conversations over the past several months had been pleasant.
But all evening Loretta was distracted, worrying about her problem. She knew she didn’t want a gun. After her surgery she had suddenly become left handed and was not as adept with it as she had been as a right-hander. She’d have to make room in her big bulky purse for the Bear Spray. It would now accompany her everywhere. Just in case.
Saturday morning she dressed a pair of red slacks and a red floral blouse. She fumbled with the strap of the red wedgie and cursed her clumsy left-handedness. Checking herself in the mirror she straightened her hairdo, gave it one more shot of hairspray, and grabbed her heavy purse, ready for work.
It was a quiet morning at the library. There were several students at the computers and a dozen patrons wandering the aisles. She was manning the check-out desk, when a man approached and tossed a note on the counter.
“MEET ME OUTSIDE NOW” was printed in bold letters.
She looked up into Demetri's eyes. He grinned maliciously, opening his jacket to show the gun in his hand. He jerked his head towards the side door.
She couldn’t believe how fast he’d found her. Poor Myron. Shaking, she grabbed her purse from under the counter and headed for the door. Once out the door, she slipped one hand inside her purse and grabbed the can of Bear Spray. She spun towards him and squirted it in his face. He dropped the gun, screamed in agony and fell to the ground.
He writhed on the ground trying to wipe the dripping foam from his eyes with one hand, and groped for his gun with the other. She kicked it as far away as she could with her toe-less red sandal. The side door had locked when they exited, so she sprinted to the front door to call the police.
When she was assured they were on their way, she ran back to the front door just in time to see Demetri get into a black Ford Mustang and drive haphazardly through the parking lot. He gunned the engine when he got to the street and moments later she heard a loud crash and saw flames shoot towards the sky.
By the time the police and fire department arrived, the car was totally engulfed in flames. After she had given them her statement, they told her the man at the wheel had died.
Free. She was free.
Loretta took the rest of the day off and headed towards the downtown mall. A new slinky red dress and some spiked red heels were on the shopping list for her date tonight. The red wedgies were going in the garbage - the last symbol of her old life.