UnMasked

Jason Clifford sat in the chair inside Room Seven of The Sun Rise Lake Motel watching the rain fall outside the window. He was wearing jeans and a white 'Nurses Need Love Too' tee shirt with a giant red heart and Red Cross on it.

He had no idea if Loyce would show but he was glad to be hiding out for a day of refuge in a motel room as an escape from the stress and anxiety of his job at The Blue County Nursing Home during the pandemic.

Even if Loyce chickened out, it was still a nice distraction and respite to be at the motel.

Jason saw through the window the grey Chevy Impala turn into the motel lot and park next to his sporty Nissan. Loyce popped out of the driver's side wearing a Boston Red Sox ball cap and a yellow raincoat. Her mouth and nose was covered by a blue surgical-type mask and she hurried to the door of Room Seven.

Jason opened the door just as she knocked.

"I thought maybe you changed your mind," he said as Loyce hurried into the room.

"Close the door!" She said nervously.

"Nobody followed you, Loyce," He smirked but he did as she asked. "This isn't some espionage movie."

She glanced around the room. "Quaint," she said as she took off her raincoat and hung it in the open bay closet.

The room consisted of a double bed, a round table by the window with chairs on either side, two bedside tables, a dresser with a television on top of it, a mini frig and a microwave.

"I'm surprised this place is even open," Loyce said as she took a seat on the end of the bed facing Jason. She was wearing purple scrubs.

"The guy who checked me in admits business is slow," Jason reported as he returned to his chair.

Loyce removed her face mask and flipped it aside.

"It's nice to see your entire face," Jason remarked. "That hasn't happened much lately."

Her face looked pale and anxious but she managed a smile. "I'm still not used to you without a beard."

"Had to get rid of it for the masks," he shrugged.

"But you're still stubbly."

"Who has the time to shave every day during this crisis?" He asked. But his hair was still curly black and thick. "What did you tell your husband?"

"That I was working a double," she said. "He won't bother to check."

"Do you think we're crazy?" Jason asked.

"Of course," she answered.

"You have been unhappy for a very long time," Jason pointed out.

"Doesn't make it right being here," Loyce sighed.

Jason agreed with a nod. "I brought some subway subs, snacks and wine."

"Later," Loyce replied. "It's still early."

"It is nice to finally have a day off," Jason said.

"I feel guilty," Loyce admitted.

"We've been working straight out," Jason reminded her. "We deserve a day to ourselves."

"I know," she sighed. "Wish it wasn't raining though."

"It kind of accents our situation," Jason said with a shrug.

"Yeah," Loyce agreed with a sigh. "How did we let ourselves get into this situation?"

"You don't have to stay," Jason reminded her.

"There'll be repercussions either way," she replied.

"I came here to fish in younger days," Jason said. "Sun Rise Lake is very peaceful."

"Can you fish in the rain?"

"Yeah, but not today," Jason replied.

"Fishing requires the kind of patience I don't have."

"You're much more daring," Jason observed.

"Am I daring enough to run naked into the rain, hoping to be struck by lightning?" Loyce asked.

They both glanced out the window at the falling rain. "Maybe in the dark," Jason replied.

"I should have stayed home and caught up on the cleaning and laundry," Loyce stated.

"You must be tired," Jason said.

"I'm exhausted," Loyce revealed. "No time for anything." She gave him a long stare. "But here I am."

"I'm here too."

"We can't even see the lake," she sighed.

"Maybe later," Jason said. "If the rain stops. We can take a walk."

"I saw it driving here," Loyce smiled. "It's pretty."

"Even in the rain," Jason said warmly.

"He went to another one of those stupid open the economy protests the other day," Loyce grumbled.

"You told me," Jason replied.

"We put our lives at risk every time we walk into the nursing home, suited up like Storm Troopers watching people die left and right and he's worried about not being able to play golf, have a beer at the bar, and having his rights infringed upon," she complained, shaking her head with disgust. "Doesn't he realize how that makes me feel?"

"This experience has brought out the best and worst in people," Jason said.

"Definitely the worst in him," Loyce grumbled.

"Forget about that now," Jason advised.

"Is that why we're here?" Loyce asked. "To forget?"

"Yes," Jason said.

"I was never political before so I didn't care about his crap," Loyce admitted. "It wasn't until he started raving against Obamacare that I began to wonder if he had a clue what he was talking about."

"He's a truck driver," Jason replied. "Drives around listening to Limbaugh and Beck all day."

"I tolerated it as best I could but when all this started and he dismissed what we're going through every day I realized that I was married to a moron," Loyce sighed. "When he dismisses the pandemic as a hoax he's really dismissing me and what I do as a health care professional."

"You deserve more respect than that," Jason agreed.

"He says the old people were going to die anyway," Loyce remarked, shaking her head in repugnance.

"People who put their politics ahead of their humanity don't really understand truth," Jason replied.

"And so here we are," Loyce said. "Looking for an escape from reality."

"With each other," Jason added.

"You've never dismissed me," Loyce stated.

"We share the same ideals and values as health care professionals in this time of crisis," Jason said.

"I just want to be understood and supported," Loyce said.

"That's why I'm here," Jason said.

"Our own little celebration?" Loyce quizzed. "Like when the cops and firefighters drive around the nursing home tooting their horns and holding their signs thanking us for our health care service?"

"Something like that," Jason replied.

They both glanced out the window and watched the rain fall, a symbol of their dreary lives.