Ray located a drug store near the Oxford Club on 17th Street in the Lower Downtown Historic District — LoDo, the Denverites called the redeveloped neighborhood. He parked the Honda Civic without feeding the meter. The possibility of receiving a parking citation for his haste was the least of his problems.
The drug store was old and smelled of disinfectant and moth balls. In the First-Aid aisle, Ray grabbed a roll of self-adhering bandage wrap, a cold compress, and an arm sling with a padded shoulder wrap. He scanned the bottles and packages in the analgesic aisle but couldn’t find what he was looking for.
“Do you carry arnica?” Ray asked the pharmacist.
The old man pinched the bridge of his nose and adjusted his bifocals. “Never heard of it.”
“It’s a natural remedy.”
“No natural remedies here, son, just pharmaceuticals. You might want to try Elixir Mind and Body on Blake Street over by Coors Field.”
Ray paid for his items from a disorganized wad of cash, dashed back out to the Honda Civic, and drove northwest on 17th to Blake. He called his agent in New York City on his cell phone.
“Lorraine and I need to get out of Denver,” Ray blurted when John Vesko answered the phone on the fifth ring. “Something’s happened. We need to go back to L.A.”
“Are you in trouble again, Ray?” John’s voice was calm and soothing, artfully gliding into the role of Father Confessor.
“Nothing specific. What’s going on with the movie deal?” He tapped his horn at a beer truck blowing through a yellow light at 17th and Champa. “I need money, John. We’ve got to get out of here.”
“They paid you for the option, Ray. Developing a movie takes time. It’s not easy to adapt a book of poetry to the language of film.”
He turned on the car radio as a weather forecaster warned of a significant cold front crossing over the Rockies into Denver. Snow was anticipated. “Don’t give me that ‘language of film’ bullshit again, John. They made a movie from Norman McLean’s A River Runs Through It so Canyon Blue shouldn’t be so goddamn hard. They must’ve had some ideas or they wouldn’t have optioned the book, right?”
“Tell me what happened, Ray …”
“Lorraine got hurt last night.” He hung a hard right on Blake Street.
“How did she get hurt, Ray?” That calm, paternal voice; Ray resisted the sudden impulse to confess every sin he committed since the seventh grade.
“I don’t have time to go into it. Find me some money, John. We need to get back to L.A. I’m done with Denver. I’m done with the whole fucking state of Colorado. I’ve gotta hang up now. I need to find some arnica for Lorraine.”
He ended the call as he pulled into the small parking lot for Elixir Body and Mind. The storefront was small and cramped and smelled of sandalwood and rose petals. Bottles, vials, and tubes of homeopathic medicines stood on the shelves like alert dark soldiers, flanked by burning sticks of incense. Ray grabbed a box of Omega-3 fish oil capsules and carried it to the counter. The clerk was a plain-looking woman in her late forties with a hooked nose that was stuck in a dog-eared copy of the Bhagavad-Gita.
“Do you have any arnica on hand?”
She looked up apologetically. “Sorry. I just ordered some day before yesterday but our supplier is in Los Angeles, so …”
“Shit!” Ray hissed.
“Perhaps something else would suffice. What is the remedy for?”
“My wife. She only uses homeopathic medicines.”
“And the anti-inflammatory is for …?”
“She fell. From a stepladder in the garage. She put out her hand to brace herself for the fall like this and I think she fractured or sprained her wrist. I’ve got bandaging and a sling and a cold compress but she wants arnica. She … she’s taking it very well, all things considered. It’ll never happen again but I … I mean, she had been drinking and one thing led to another and –” Ray felt flush. “It won’t happen again. Ever. I — shehas been under a lot of stress lately and I guess she just wasn’t thinking.”
“These things happen sometimes,” the woman said softly. “I can tell you feel very bad about it.”
“She didn’t deserve it.”
“No one does,” she said with a sad smile that contained all the sorrow in the world. “That’ll be eight ninety-nine.”