"Enough for a room?"
"I guess so."
"I know a place. Let's go."
Greta directed Ben to an area he was not greatly familiar with, the industrial outskirts of the city. Old factories and abandoned warehouses. Run down and sinister looking neighborhoods. People standing on street corners looking like they were up to no good. It was all very dark. There was a freeway off ramp with a Denny's and a little motel. It looked like something out of a movie. Greta instructed Ben to park in a dark corner of the motel lot, far from the office. She seemed anxious. Ben sensed something was going on that he didn't know about, but decided not to ask any questions, at least for the moment. It was often better that way.
"Get us a room," Greta said, "I'll wait here."
Ben obediently got out of the car and walked across the parking lot towards the little office. The parking lot was dark and all but deserted. Ben noted only two other cars besides his own. He opened the door to the office and stepped inside. A man who looked to be about Ben's age sat behind the desk reading a paperback book. He flinched a bit when he heard the little bell that signaled the opening of the door. He looked up from his book at Ben and Ben looked back at him. He was a fairly attractive fellow with short black hair and fashionable glasses. He looked bookish, in a hip kind of way. Somewhat out of place behind the desk of a seedy old motel. They looked at each other in silence for what seemed to Ben to be an exceptional amount of time. Ben had the feeling that he had maybe met the man before. He recognized him, somehow, but had no idea from where or when. Eventually they conducted the transaction with few words. Ben paid for the room and the man behind the desk gave him the keys.
When Ben returned to the car Greta was two thirds done with her bottle of wine. She was listening to a Depeche Mode song, still looking anxious. "Didja get a room?" she asked.
"Yup," Ben said.
"What did he say?"
"What did who say?"
"The guy at the desk."
"He didn't say anything. What was he supposed to say?"
"Nothing. Shut up. Let's go drink."
Ben moved the car nearer to their room. Number 8. The room looked just a Ben imagined it would. Small and boxlike. There was a double bed and a small TV. There were small ugly little tables on either side of the bed. A tiny bathroom that faintly smelled of mold. The room itself smelled of stale beer and cigarettes. Everything was yellow and stained. The walls, the curtains, everything. Once they were inside and had closed the door the rest of the world seemed very far away.
by Chris Lawrence