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II. Auspices?

We were awakened at 4am by a woman's screams, a man's unintelligible bellowing and all sorts of thumpings coming from the suite next to ours. Leaping out of bed, we met in the center of our room, gaping at each other. The woman's screams continued-- freaky wails, really, rising and falling like surf. Scott ran for the phone and I ran for the curtains, throwing them open, my hand on the sliding glass door leading to the balcony. Perhaps I intended to rush outside and scream for help, or scream at the bellowing man to stop beating up his woman. But before I could make a move, a man in a tracksuit squeezed underneath the canvas partition separating each balcony from its neighbor. I watched dumbly as he scuttled on shoe toes and palms across our balcony to the next canvas partition, flattened, and squeezed under that, disappearing. Scott yelled, "Jesus Christ, who was that! Get away from the door! Shut the curtains!" I did, just as a fire engine and copy cars pulled up to the front of the quaint seaside hotel. In the couple of hours before dawn, we were ordered to stay in our room until the hotel was 'clear' of the perpetrator. I gave a description to the police and from the firemen pounding on our door for entrance (they mistook our suite for the scene of the crime) we were able to piece together that an intruder broke into the elderly couple's suite, put his hand over the sleeping wife's mouth, which woke her, her freaky wails woke her husband, he scrambled out of bed and confronted the perp, who promptly produced a knife and stabbed the husband--then bolted via our balcony. The victim had been whisked to the hospital for treatment. We directed the firemen next door and they sat with the shaken wife until she was composed enough to join her husband. Scott and I crawled back into bed and held each other, listening to the police roam the grounds with their staticky walkie talkies, their shoes clumping around the swimming pool below our balcony, or galloping the hallway outside our door. Our phone rang. It was the front desk letting us know the hotel was 'clear'. We got up, dressed and wandered down to the lobby for information. We were met with yellow crime scene tape and blood. Apparently after being stabbed the husband staggered down to the lobby in search of help. Blood streaked the faux-marble floor. Blood was a Jackson Pollock across the reception desk. Bloody footprints overlapped and in haphazard trails. We took a side door, hurried across the street to the beach and plunked on the sand before tiny, sugar-white waves, wondering what to do. An elderly couple from Denver had just been attacked in one of the most notoriously benign cities in the United States in surely one of the world's safest hotels. Was it safe to remain in the hotel? Was it right to remain there? We were getting married in less than seven hours. Was there time to search for a new hotel, pack up, check in? "Nowhere is safe," I whispered and Scott laced his fingers through mine and squeezed hard as the sun turned the ocean a moody whale-purple. By the time we returned to the hotel, five people wearing white space suits were cleaning up the blood. The hotel manager accosted us with an ashen face and apologies and told us we had a new room and that our things had already been moved. We took the elevator to the fourth floor and found ourselves in the penthouse suite. Massive living room with a wet bar loaded in complimentary coffee, croissants and a fruit basket wrapped in amber cellophane. Separate bedroom with a spectacular mountain view. Two marble bathrooms. An expansive oceanview deck that could hold our entire wedding party. We stood on this deck in the warm winter morning and watched dolphins stitch across the ocean. Palm fronds rustled in a delicate breeze as we turned to each other, blinking wearily in the sunshine.

Scott said: "The bedroom door locks."

We decided to stay.

III. No More Blood

Back in Noho we called the Cat Lady. I was ready for the runt to come home. "Well," the Cat Lady said, "I have some bad news. Wonder Kitten is dead. The poor thing was born without an anus." The Cat Lady choked up. "They could have done reconstructive surgery, but even Wonder Kitten probably wouldn't have survived and it would have cost you and your hubby thousands of dollars and she was in pain every time she tried to go to the--you know--number two. I had to make an executive decision. Putting her down was the right thing."

"But the good news is," Scott said hastily, grabbing tissues and guiding me to the bedroom. "If we can make it through this--all of this--we can make it through anything."

As I lay on the bed with my new husband, the wedding band on my finger caught my eye, glinting in late afternoon sunlight sneaking through the closed blinds--and I realized that for the first time in a month I was (probably) breathing.

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