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News Channel 10 Roanoke: Exit 168

The white four-door Saturn Sedan pulled up the newly-paved driveway without fanfare. Midnight on Monday, in the exclusive, prestigious, Cherry Hills. Caroline Kilpatrick, head anchorwoman, paused in the driveway, the faint scent of honeysuckle filtering through the partially opened car windows.
“And don’t forget I need that report on my desk by eight- double-spaced- and call Mr… what’s his name-look it up-back and ask if it was one or two dogs that were blinded in the fire- and make sure Suzanne puts my mic ON the desk not UNDER the desk by broadcast. Yes…I hope you have a nice night, too. What? I’m so glad she’s feeling better… right, gotta go, bye.”
Carline pressed the door opener and magically, a perfectly clean and arranged, albeit, empty garage appeared. The cement floor was the color of extra-light ash blond haircolor, with the sheen of newly poured cement, and the walls were a stiff white drywall. Only a hook for a garden hose punctured its tight youthful skin.
Her pressed navy Dolce and Gabbana suit was only slightly wrinkled from the long day at Channel Ten; her hair still completely in place thanks to her stylist’s interventions. Yet, it would be wonderful, she thought, to finally remove all vestiges of the day, perhaps have a quiet bath with Epsom salts, and slip on her silk pajamas. Her cocker spaniel, Alf, met her at the door as usual, freshly walked at five by the dog-walker, and wanted nothing more than its customary treat and tummy scratch.
In baby-talk, Carline ruffled Alf’s ears and cooed: “Mamma bechs you wanna doggie goodie!”

After Alf trotted out of the kitchen to consume his goodie, Carline tossed her Aigner hand bag on the couch and removed her earrings. The kitchen was in order-the cleaning lady had come today. She inhaled the fresh scent of Lysol while enjoying the view of her clear marble counters, smooth as a new ice skating rink. Before stepping out of her Pappagallos’s slides, she ran her French manicured index finger over the surface and exhaled, “ahhhh…..”
From the freezer, brightly lit and organized, she withdrew a Mandarin Chicken Lean Cuisine and removed it from the box. The microwave shone of intensely polished chrome as she inserted the dinner and deftly punched the appropriate buttons. She withdrew a perilously thin-stemmed wine glass from the cupboard and reached for an open bottle of Pinot Noir. The wine gurgled gently into the glass, and she sipped. Then, she began her stocking-footed ascension to the bedroom, against the comforting hum of the microwave that aesthetically escorted her beyond the troubles, traumas, and tribulations of southwest Virgina.


This particular subdivision was considered the newest and finest, completed just before the housing market crash. It was only fifty-percent full; which suited Carline as it meant more privacy, but meant as well, that fewer residents would wave at her as she walked Sunday mornings, in her powder blue Adidas sweat suit outfit with a well-coifed, well-behaved Alf. She would wait. Once they knew she was there, people would come.
Once in her bedroom, she clicked on the virtual aquarium on the LCD monitor and turned the plasma television on low. Jack was doing sports, and Ron was doing weather. “Wrong color tie, Ron. God, doesn’t his wife look at him before he leaves in the morning?” She clicked to her competitor’s channel: Lisa Ligerre was anchoring with Scott Nichols by her side. Carlene narrowed her eyes. “Fake eyelashes…. I wonder who put those on for her…. Cheap. She could at least use Oprah’s brand.” She sipped a deeper bit from her glass, holding the stem between two fingers. Again, she narrowed her eyes. “He could use veneers big time….”
While the Jacuzzi ran, Carlene slipped into her silk pajamas and slippers and ran down to retrieve her dinner, which she ate from the tray while sifting through the Roanoke Times. She thought about a sugar-free Klondike bar, but suppressed her desire and went back upstairs where Alfie wagged his tail happily from his spot on the bed.
She would watch a bit of Leno after her bath. The Jacuzzi was perched off the bedroom in a triangular nest of white: towels, soaps, wall color, tile, loofah sponges. An enormous plate of glass window opened the house to the glimmering lights of 81. Although she’d have preferred a downtown landscape, no preferable real estate existed that met her requirements- space, green, 5000 square feet of living space. The rooms not in use housed her high school trophies and media awards. One room was used for meditation, with a purple mat and easy-to-read large print bible. In the corner was her seldom-used Bo-Flex machine.
On Carlene’s nightstand were three clocks, all set to various times, her retainer, tooth whitening gel, and the latest book recommended by her contemporary Christian church: “ Real Women of the Bible.” Alongside that literature, were her “bible verse for the week” and earplugs.


It was a windy, quasi-warm Roanoke night. Carlene turn the jets off in the Jacuzzi and listened to the gentle lap of the bath water. In the distance, the television bantered gently, discussing the recent proposed closings of city schools. Carlene submerged her head, rinsing the conditioner from her hair, and lathered her body with apricot scrub, although too tired to do so.
After rinsing, a sensation grew within her to run more hot water and turn out the lights. How could such a thought occur, she wondered? Nonetheless, after the loofah, Carlene emptied the tub and drew a new bath. This time she put a cube of sandalwood bath softener under the faucet. When the tub was half-full, she turned out the lights.
All those entering and existing Roanoke streaked past her; cars as asteroids and falling stars swooshing by, igniting the luster of highway signs that stood as beacons among the weeded shoulders of the road. It was her they came for- the crazy thought filled her delightfully, like warm cheesecake… she was part of the Roanoke “Experience;” from the Peaks of Otter to Natural Bridge… she was Channel Ten Anchorwoman. They needed her…depended on her. She was a constant fixture, never disheveled, always optimistic and sympathetic no matter the circumstance. She was Carlene Kilpatrick- Channel Ten News.
As she lifted from the tub, gazing upon her four- poster bed and dimly lit nightstand, felt blessed, and whispered a lips-moving-only prayer. Gently toweling herself, she applied her Neutragena skin crème and L’Oreal Anti-Aging Complex. The brief puffs under her eye would diminish by morning, but she would need tomorrow’s scheduled manicure. She brushed and flossed while Alf snoozed deeply, snoring through his slightly pugged nose. Carlene again slipped on her pajama’s and turned back the heavy layers of white sheets, blankets, and her goose down comforter.
She turned off the television and nightstand light and allowed her eyes to blur and enjoy the twinkling, distantly roaring highway. And then she wondered it at this moment, she would be happier to be with Him. Several scenes passed her mind as she fell into sleep, and at last she turned over, sighed, and melted into her Roanoke Night. Alf kicked his fluffy legs in a chase dream….

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