As you drive west on Interstate 80 through Nevada, in the middle of nowhere sits a little Casino and truck stop at Mill City.
There is a chain motel attached to the casino, and I have made this a regular stop on my western run for many years. Usually it is a short stop, for a quick pull of the slot machines, a coffee or two, and sometimes a short nap before I get to Reno.
Tonight I did not want to stop, but the Nevada truck cops were set up in a rest area just up the road, and were checking all trucks and drivers. I felt great, but my hours of service were in excess of the 70 hours in 8 days rule.
I had 2 choices, neither of which were agreeable to me. The first choice was to rest for about 14 hours, the second was to change a few pages in my logbook. I was already behind schedule due to a road closure in Utah, and my delivery was going to have to be Monday morning in San Francisco, instead of the usual Friday afternoon.
Resigned to may fate, I went into the smokey bar, and decided a beer was in order. The only opening at the bar was between a grizzled old cowboy, and a dirty looking gal in a checked cowboy shirt, with a cigarette smoldering in the ash tray, and a fresh one in her nicotine stained fingers.
I quit smoking years ago, and while the urge is still with me from time to time, most of the time I really don't like to be around a lot of second hand smoke, but this was the only place I could get a brew.
So I walked up to the bar, sat on the wobbly old bar stool, and ordered a beer. I glanced at the gal beside me, and while it was hard to get a good look without staring, I could see a pair of glasses perched on her nose.
The temples were drop temples, and the lenses stuck out a fair way in front of the frames, as well as being fairly thick to the rear. I knew that these were a pretty strong pair of glasses, but I just couldn't get a good look, as her hair was unkempt and hanging down the side of her face in such a manner that my view was blocked.
I was hooked. I am what you might call optic obsessive. Any girl with a pair of strong minus lenses becomes the object of my admiration. I had to get a good look at her, but as had happened so many times in the last few weeks, I had taken my contact lenses out, and my strong minus glasses off after about 12 hours wear that day.
Yes, I wear a plus contacts, minus glasses combination, just so I can have a conversation opening at times like this. But, who would have thought I would run across a situation here in the middle of nowhere. I had stopped at Wendover, and after a couple of hours in the two main casinos with no luck spotting a girl with glasses, I had decided that it was time to rest my eyes.
So, with no crutch to help me, I had to go cold turkey. I didn't know where to start, and I was beginning to feel an anxiety attack coming on. The waiter, noticing that my beer was almost gone, came over to ask if I wanted another. I ordered myself one, and told him to get the lady whatever she was drinking as well.
He gave me a strange look, but complied with my request. The drinks came and as the waiter put the ladies beer down she said " I didn't order this Tony. Where the f*** did it come from?"
Tony gestured at me, and she turned sideways to face me. My heart skipped a beat. They were strong minus lenses all right. The lenses looked to be glass, probably -20, or a bit over. They were slightly bi-concaved in the front, and the rear circle looked to be about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The frame was brown at the outer edges, fading to clear around the nose, but the clear had turned all yellow from age, and smoke. The earpieces were drop temple, and they looked to be spring loaded metal earpieces. I was floored. "Hey you sob! Who in the f*** asked you to buy me a g** d*** drink?" came from her mouth.
Oops, I think I just made a mistake. This was no lady. She had about the foulest mouth of anyone I had ever heard. I told her that I was just trying to be friendly, that there were no strings attached, and that she could give it to me, and I would drink it myself.
She softened up a bit with this, and we began to converse a bit. She lived on a ranch in the foothills, by herself, and ran a few head of cattle. I remarked that this was a lonely life for a single woman, and she told me that this was how she liked it, and that is how it was going to stay.
Just then she knocked a silver dollar off the bar, and she jumped off the stool to pick it up. As she was getting back up, the edge of the stool caught the corner of her glasses, knocking them to the floor. I knew how impossible it would be for her to see them, so I got off my stool, and told her to stay where she was, that I would get them for her.
She didn't move, and I reached in over her, picking them up off the floor. As I did, one lens fell back to the carpet, and I noticed that the frame had cracked right at the top of the nosepiece. I told her that I was afraid that they were broken, and I could feel the panic in her body as I stood back up with the lens, and the broken glasses in my hand.
I asked her if she had a spare pair, and was met with a moment of silence before she told me no in a tone of voice that bore no resemblance to that of the hard boiled cowgirl that she had been previously.
We called for Tony, the bartender, and when he came over, I asked if he had some tape. He got me some clear plastic tape, and I put the lens in, and began to tape it in. As I wrapped the tape tightly around the glasses, the frame holding the other lens in cracked from age, and the other lens fell into the palm of my hand. I knew she hadn't seen this, and I told her what had happened, and that it was going to be impossible to fix these glasses so that she could wear them.
I could see the tears in her eyes, and I felt a tug at my heart. I couldn't leave her here helpless. I asked her if she was sure that she didn't have another pair, and she said she did in her pickup, but they were also broken.
Well, there was no other choice but to get the other glasses, and see if they could be patched enough to wear them for now. I took her hand, and led her to the parking lot, over to an old, badly battered 4 x 4 pickup. The door was unlocked, and she told me where to look for the other glasses. I found them, and removed them from the case. They too were broken in 2 places, and I told her that it looked like she was out of luck.
Now, I will admit that I have always liked the thought of the feeling of control I could have over a lady that had a very strong prescription, but I had never been in a position that I had absolute control. Always before, the lady could put her glasses back on, and the control would disappear. I didn't really like it, and I was going to stay with this lady, and help her get new frames for her lenses.
I was beginning to realize that my desire for control was not really that at all. It was only the momentary vulnerability that I liked. I led her inside to the motel desk, and booked her a room. They had no more singles, but I got her a double, and I guided her back to her pickup so she could get her emergency change of clothing. I could use a shower also, so I got my kit bag, and I led her to the room. I realized that I still hadn't gotten her name, so I introduced myself.
" I am known as Laney " she told me " My real name is Lorraine, but I hated it when people called me Lorrie, so I started calling myself Laney, and it has been my name for 30 years."
I told Laney that I would let her have the shower first, that I would see her safely into bed, and then I would shower and return to my truck for the night. She was silent, and I took this as a sign of acceptance. So, I guided her to the shower, laid out the soap, the shampoo, her change of clothing, and her towel where she could find them with a minimal amount of groping. I selected what I thought to be the right water temperature, and left her alone in the shower. When she came out, I took a quick look at her. She had cleaned up well. The grime was gone, the dirty jeans had been replaced by clean ones, and a fresh shirt completed the package. I had placed her age at around 45, but I could tell now that she was about ten years younger. I asked her if she wanted a smoke while I showered, and she said that since I didn't smoke, she would do without, that she really didn't need them anyway. I went into the bathroom, and had my shower. When I came out, I could tell that she had spent most of the time crying, as her cheeks were wet with tears. And as her dark blonde hair had dried into a natural curl around her face, I realized that I was quite attracted to her - with or without glasses. She had a very pretty face, and her figure was very pleasing to me.
I sat on the other bed, and began to drag her story out of her. There were no eye doctors in the area that would refract anyone with as strong a prescription as hers. They all wanted her to go to Reno to see a specialist, and her old truck just wasn't up to the trip. The broken glasses from the glove compartment of the pickup were broken about a year ago, and she had been wearing her spare glasses since. They worked, and since she had no money to spare for a trip to Reno, and new glasses, the trip to Reno became a low priority. Now, it was an emergency. I told her she could ride in with me the next day, and I would help her get new frames for her old lenses. I could tell that she was thankful for my help, but I could also sense that she was wondering where the kicker was. To set her mind at ease, I told her I was going to go back to my truck now, and I would come to get her in the morning. She didn't reply to this for a few seconds, but then, in a fragile voice, she asked me to stay with her in the room. I replied that I would rather sleep by myself in the truck, only to have her tell me that she really needed me to stay, as she wouldn't be able to see well enough to even find the bathroom if she woke up during the night. Finally, I told her that I found her extremely attractive, and that I was a married man. If my wife ever learned that I had spent the night in a motel room with a pretty lady, I really didn't think I would be believed that nothing had happened. She started to cry again, and finally I agreed to stay.
With the lights out, and each of us in our own bed, Laney started to talk. She told me she had been on her own since the day she turned 16. She had left her mother and an alcoholic stepfather back on the east coast, and had thumbed her way west, the eventual goal being California. Here in Nevada she had been picked up by a lonely old cowboy, who had offered her a job as his housekeeper. She accepted this as a temporary position, and after a short ten years the old cowboy had passed away, leaving her the ranch in his will. Now, another ten years later, she was finally going to go a bit farther west. I had noticed a bit of a tremble in her body whenever I had brushed against her, or when I held her hand, and I began to think that her early years had been a bit abusive, so lying in the dark, I asked her if my suspicion was correct. Oh yes, my suspicion was correct all right. From the age of about 4 until she left home, her stepfather had been having his way with her. And when she had tried to tell her mother, she was called a liar, so she had suffered in silence until she could run away.
I had heard, and read about this, and I had a bit of a suspicion that her poor vision might have developed from the early days of abuse. So, I asked her about her needing glasses, and sure enough, she had had to get fairly strong glasses about a year after the abuse had started. And every year after that her glasses had gotten stronger and stronger until she had left home. Since that time, her prescription had remained stable. So, having a theory of mine confirmed, we both drifted off to sleep.
I woke first the following morning, and with a flash I realized that I had been dumber than a fence post the night before. In my truck I had a couple of pairs of glasses that might work for Laney. I got out of bed, put my clothing on, and crept quietly out of the room. In the truck I rummaged through the small part of my collection that I had with me. I took a favorite pair of mine in a - 17.5R, and -17L, and found another pair that were -20.50x-.50x128R and a -20.50L lenticular lenses that were in unisex type frames. I went back to the room to find that Laney had just woken up, and was wondering if she should wake me up. So, while she was lying in her bed, I told her about collecting for the lions club, and that I had a couple of old pairs of glasses that she might be able to use. She was happy with the lower prescription, but really couldn't see very well. When she tried the second pair on, her face broke into a wide smile. They were not strong enough, but they were far better than no glasses at all. The optical centers were not quite right, but at least she could see, even if things were a bit blurry.
We went down for breakfast, checked out of the room, and headed off for Reno. The truck cops were gone, and we got into Reno about 4 hours later. Laney was so happy with the glasses I had given her that she wanted a pair just like them. I explained to her that the lenses were not available in the US. as they would not meet the regulations. They were glass myodiscs called superlenti, made by a lab in Holland, and bought by me in Canada - but I didn't tell her that I had bought them. We checked into one of the hotels in Reno that have truck parking, and I rented a car. Laney had an old referral to a Reno specialist, so she called, and was able to get an appointment that afternoon. While we were waiting, we took her two pairs of broken glasses, and went visiting optical stores. We were able to find suitable frames for both pairs of glasses - even though I had had to argue with a couple of opticians about optical centers, and frame choices. The thick plastic lenses that were the original broken pair were able to be ground down into a bit smaller, and more contemporary frame size. The larger glass lenses were a bit more of a challenge, but finally we found an older style plastic frame that fitted them perfectly. Now with her correct prescription in front of her eyes, I assumed that she would loose her feeling of vulnerability, and regain some of her hard boiled shell, but this was not the case. She was, by this time, the most perfect woman I could ever hope to meet.
I had, unfortunately, shown her that I knew too much about glasses, and vision to just be a plain old truck driver. So, when she tackled me about my knowledge, I was faced with a dilemma. Did I lie, and tell her I had trained to be an optician years ago, or did I tell her the truth, and risk loosing her friendship. Finally the truth won out. She was silent, and I thought I had lost her, but she then smiled, and told me that she could accept this, and try to understand it.
By now it was time for her visit to the specialist. She went in, and about a half hour later the nurse came out to get me. The doctor had told her that she had cataracts starting, probably from smoking like a chimney. Laney wanted my advice, as the doctor had told her that if he removed the cataracts, he could put in new lenses, and her glasses would be gone. All I could tell her was to go for it. I was a bit disappointed as we went back to the hotel. The surgery had been scheduled for Monday morning, and I had to be on the other side unloading by then. So, I paid for the hotel for Laney until Monday, and then I drove off into the sunset - a good Samaritan in her eyes.
A month later I pulled into Mill City. An old beat up 4 x 4 sat in the parking lot, and I thought it might be hers. As I walked inside, someone hugged me from behind, and as I turned I knew it was Laney. She held me close, and kissed me,, and when she let me go, I saw the most beautiful sight I had ever see. She had on a pair of silver wire framed glasses, and the lenses, while not as thick as her other ones, were about -15 or so. She looked fantastic, and I commented on the glasses.
"I just couldn't do it to you" she replied " I thought of how hard it would be for me to get used to no more glasses, and I thought of how much you loved girls with strong glasses, so I told the doctor to lower my prescription just enough to make my lenses thinner."