I’m finally at base camp, at a motel a couple of miles from Bouchercon’s convention hotels downtown. The convention officially begins tomorrow. But O my brothers, getting here was an adventure in itself.
I was one of a group of authors asked to do a panel at a local library here in Raleigh. The panel was scheduled for 6:30 this evening. Fine, I thought as I scheduled my rental car some weeks ago. It’s right at a 4-hour drive from Mondoville to Raleigh — I’ll get my car at noon, get checked into the hotel, and get to the library by six or so.
But of course, that was before The Flood of 2015. As y’all know, South Carolina got hammered by the storm, and many roads around the state are closed — including two Interstates that were on my route. So I consulted Mapquest and checked alternate routes. The one I eventually found was a roundabout trip, involving about 45 minutes heading in the wrong direction before catching an Interstate that would get me there. Still, if I picked up my car early enough, I’d still get there in plenty of time, right?
So I showed up at Intercourse Car Rental at about 11:15 this morning, 45 minutes before my scheduled pickup, but I figured I could use the extra time for the obligatory paperwork. I walk in the door, greet the service drone, and identify myself.
“Yeah,” the drone said, “I tried to call you, but it said your phone was disconnected.” And it was — because I haven’t had the number he tried in about eleven years. Oddly, he didn’t try e-mailing me, although the confirmation notice the company had sent me yesterday afternoon got through just fine. (And had he checked, he might even have noticed the new phone number I entered when I made the rental arrangements.)
“So why were you trying to call me?”
“Well, because of the flood, our stock of cars is really depleted, and we don’t have a car for you.”
“You can’t get me anything?”
And it was approaching noon. So the Spawn (who had ferried me to Intercourse’s office) came back and took me to Obscure Local Car Rental. As we arrived, I saw one car in the lot. As I entered the office, I saw someone ahead of me. I was doomed. While the renter ahead of me was filling out her paperwork, I bewailed my plight to the woman at the counter.
“We’re about to get a car,” she said, but it’s coming from another location, and won’t be here for a while.”
“How long a while?”
“Within the hour, I’d say,”
And sure enough, I got the car, got home, tossed my stuff in, and got on the road around 12:45. Still, Mapquest said my Great Circle Route should get me there about 5, which meant I could grab a burger, so I did.
And then I hit the traffic jam. And then I hit the other traffic jam. And then I looked at the clock and saw that I wasn’t going to have time to stop at base camp, and would have to proceed directly to the library. Which was fine, except I only had directions to the hotel.
Fine — use the cell phone, input the library address, and change my route accordingly.
Until the cell phone battery died, and I didn’t have a working car charger. So I stopped at a gas station and dropped ten bucks on a new charger for my old phone. And I couldn’t get that to work either, which will surprise no one who has ever seen me try to do anything mechanical. Then I got an idea. I turned on my computer, and ran a charger cord from the USB port to the phone, and made it to the library with about 20 minutes to spare. The panel consisted of three writers with series characters, and Your Genial Host, who you’ll recall has a standalone novel and some shorts. You may now start humming: “One of these things is not like the others…”
Pause. “… and Warren Moore.” And away we go!
The four of us did our bit for the six folks who came out — three older ladies and three of my high school classmates who live in the region. (Boone County REPRESENT!). Yeah, I might not have a multi-book deal, but dammit, I brought fifty percent of the house!
It was a very pleasant conversation, and much credit goes to librarian Emil Siekkinen for giving everyone a chance to talk — heck, it even made me feel like a real writer. Another Pinocchio moment.
Afterwards, my former classmates and I went to a local eatery and chatted a bit. Then, I went back to my car, started it up, and …
The cell battery had died. I tried the USB trick again. The universe laughed. Then, I latched onto a stray wireless connection (Thanks for that 30-minute free trial, Time Warner!) and used my laptop to find a route to my hotel. I got here about 10:30.
So that’s how my day went. Welcome to Bouchercon; further reports to follow.
And you know what? On a panel with a suspense writer, a writer of cozies, and someone more hard-boiled, being Warren Moore isn’t too shabby.