They had a bottle of wine and the better part of a six pack left between them. Greta went into the bathroom and Ben opened the bottle of wine and poured some into two plastic cups he found on one of the bedside tables. Greta came out of the bathroom, sat down on the corner of the bed and lit a cigarette. Ben handed her one of the plastic wine cups. Greta took it and told Ben to play some music. Ben pressed play on the tape player and Depeche Mode came on. "Not that, Greta said immediately, this!" She took a Smiths tape from her purse and tossed it at Ben. He took out Depeche Mode and put in the Smiths. Greta sat on the bed drinking, smoking and mouthing the words to Smiths songs. She seemed to be looking at something Ben couldn't see. Ben sat in a chair by the tape player. He drank wine and looked at Greta looking at whatever invisible thing she was looking at.
Time passed in this way for some time. Or no time passed at all. It was hard to tell. Time ceased to exist in the sad little room, and Ben liked it that way. There was just him and Greta and wine and music and cigarette smoke drifting about. It was a dingy magic, perfect in its own way. Greta looked sad and lonely and beautiful, oblivious to everything other than whatever it was going on inside her head. She certainly wasn't paying any attention to Ben, but he didn't mind too much. Things were fine the way they were.
Greta eventually glanced over at Ben as if suddenly becoming aware of his presence for the first time. "What are you doing?" she asked, sounding somehow annoyed.
"What? Nothing, Ben said.
"Go get some ice," Greta said.
"Ice? What for?"
"Just go get some fucking ice!"
Ben knew better than to argue. He finished the wine in his cup and got up from his chair. He took the room key and a can of beer. He looked for an ice bucket but didn't see one. "I'll be back," he said. Greta looked at him as if he were a hostile stranger speaking another language. He went outside to look for ice.
Ben walked around the entire building a few times but didn't see an ice machine. He found a soda machine and a candy machine but no ice machine. He walked around the building a third time with no better luck. He headed towards the office to see if maybe the ice machine was in there, or if the guy behind the desk could tell him where to find one. When he approached the office he saw that the man behind the desk was talking on the phone. The man had a strange look on his face as he talked into the phone, as if he were in some kind of pain. He didn't look happy. Ben decided not to bother him. He stood in the parking lot drinking his can of beer, wondering where he might find some ice.
by William Taylor Jr