Excerpt from Chapter 12 - First National ABC Show Preparations

It was Thursday, late afternoon, at the Holiday Inn in Ridgemont, New Jersey. After two days of show preparation with a few club board members and a handful of volunteers, Margaret Appleman was finally free to take her first long breather, though she hardly considered it that because she could barely breathe at all as she walked quickly and deliberately back to her room. In truth, she hadn’t taken much of a breath since she’d said good-bye to Frank and climbed into her Gremlin three days earlier. The breadth and depth of her anticipatory anxiety and excitement regarding this show, was something she desperately needed to keep private. Were she to take a large or even medium breath, all could break loose in front of God knows who, and the consequences would be catastrophic. Four years of the grueling work of ‘making nice’ to anyone and everyone, which included bearing abuse the likes of which she had known her entire life—all of it could go up in smoke should anyone catch even a glimmer of what was going on inside her, or so she believed. This was the show that would make her national club “official” and put her on the map forever. She was not about to give anyone the opportunity to take it from her.
    She picked up her pace as she suddenly felt an over-whelming desire to take a very deep breath. The room she had picked was perfect. It was on the third floor and overlooked the front entrance and parking area of the hotel. She glanced down at her watch—her timing was perfect as well. This was precisely when people from all over the country would begin to trickle in, one by one. And by tomorrow evening the hotel would be buzzing with activity—all because of her.  
    She entered her room and the moment the door closed, her lungs burst wide open and sucked in every inch of air. She collapsed onto the bed as the excitement sent spasms and quivers throughout her entire rather robust body. The sturdiness of the bed was sorely tested—and passed. As she laid there waiting for the final spasms to cease, she recalled Frank’s recent suggestion that she put all this “dog stuff” aside and have a baby. He was a dear, but she didn’t want a baby, she wanted this! She rolled to her side and sat up. THIS was her baby!
    She walked to the dresser and pulled her binoculars and notepad from the top drawer. A chair had already been placed in front of the window in preparation. It was the first thing she’d done when she got out of bed that morning. She looked again at her watch as she sat down. She had two hours before she had to pick up the judge at the airport, which meant she had two hours to do what she loved best.
    Not twenty minutes passed and the ever familiar GALESTORM BORDEAUX truck pulled up to the front entrance. It was a huge bright red Dodge Ram 2500 with a special customized shiny black cover over the truck bed where she kept the dogs. Margaret knew, of course, that Stella’s precious Bobby had a hand in building that—both hands. She had to admit it was beautiful, all decked out with hand painted Bordeaux heads, wide windows with screens and retractable metal awnings to block out direct sunlight. It was truly a sight to behold.
    Margaret ticked off the name that was at the top of her list, set her elbows on the window sill and focused the binoculars. She’d put Stella’s name down as the first to arrive and she was right—of course. She was no fool!