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May 27, 2024

The Lake Erie Lights 6

By Hawkelson Rainier

Chapter 6: On the Lam

Megan tore the yellowed newspaper clipping into tiny pieces and dropped them in the toilet. The whole article had been a hundred words. In it, a man had been born and he had died. In between, he'd loved and lost, had hopes and dreams, fears and regrets. Those hundred words floated in Ty-D-Bol-blue water for a moment before vanishing into the vortex with no more than a gurgle.

Megan wiped her eyes and blew her nose. There was no time for tears. The alarm clock on the nightstand had said it was 10:53 A.M. She was down to her last ten bucks, and check out time was in seven minutes. She did a quick walk-through to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything, zipped up her duffel bag, and dropped off the room key at the front desk. There was a little park nearby -- just a patch of green with a plastic bench, a sickly looking tree, and a rusty swing set.

She set her duffel bag on the bench and sat down right on top of it. Just about everything she owned was in that bag -- if some schmuck with sticky fingers decided to boost it, she'd be fucked. Megan opened her tattered notebook and jotted down a few ideas with a fat magic marker. The page read:

Ways to make money fast!
-Sell my blood
-Sell my body
-Rob a gas station

She mulled over her options like a chess master trying to reduce the chaos of a tangled board to elegant simplicity. Of course, in chess, the wrong move isn't nearly as catastrophic. The little wooden pieces never end up becoming syphilitic junkies who get strangled to death with their own bra in a motel that offers hourly rates.

"Are you writing poetry?" a man asked as he sat down next to her.

Megan dropped the magic marker, startled by the sudden interruption.

"What?" It was all she could think to say.

The man picked up the marker casually and continued with his pitch. "You strike me as someone who writes poetry. My name is Trevor, by the way."

He held out his hand.

"Hi, Trevor. I'm Megan," she said and shook his hand.

"Do you like Bordeaux, Megan? Because I have a nice Bordeaux in my room at a rather luxurious hotel downtown. We could sip wine and talk about the finer things in life. And, of course, you'll be compensated for your time."

Megan sized the man up immediately. He was a middle-aged salesman at a midsized company who drove German, was on his third wife, had a faltering stock portfolio, and a solid coke habit.

"I love Bordeaux," she said.

"Good! Here, you can reach me at this number," and he produced a fountain pen and a piece of paper from his coat pocket and scribbled down the digits and a few directions to the hotel.

"Give me an hour to tie up some loose ends, and I'll be there with bells and whistles, and not much else on," she whispered into his ear.

Megan snapped the cylinder into place and considered the weight of the fully loaded .357 magnum. It felt like it meant business. She fired up the rusted-out Bonneville and noted there was about an eighth of a tank of gas left. The gravity of the situation started to sink in, and something Trevor had said was still bouncing around her head. "Of course, you'll be compensated for your time," were his exact words.

'Jesus, do I already look like a hooker?' she thought.

'No,' she answered herself. 'Maybe a call girl, but definitely not a hooker.' She laughed a little bit, and that gave her just enough courage to keep going. The Boston streets were congested as usual. Trevor would have to be patient.

There was a metered parking space a few blocks from the hotel -- a lucky find for sure. Megan could have very easily burned up the remaining fumes looking for a spot, but it had worked out. So far, so good. She fished around in the ashtray and found enough coins to put an hour on the meter. She took a roll of duct tape from the trunk and hid it away in her purse. As she walked, she became acutely aware of the .357 that was tucked in her waistband, hidden behind her coat. She would pull the trigger again if she had to.

"Let's hope old Trevor doesn't test me," she said to herself. "Let's hope he isn't as dumb as he looks."

Time became distorted. The midday bustle seemed to play out at a slower speed as if the colossal gears that churn this universe ever forward had started to rust. Suddenly, she was at the hotel -- it felt like some unseen hand had skipped the needle on the cosmic record ahead a couple of tracks. Time was doing funny things that day.

She dialed the number from a nearby pay phone, and Trevor gave her instructions to walk to a side entrance where one of the hotel staff would be waiting to let her in. She pulled her scarf up over her face, but not so much that it made her look like a bandit about to rob a stagecoach -- just enough to leave a little doubt, a little gray area for the surveillance cameras. The bellhop let her in and winked to acknowledge that he was in on this thing. Trevor probably flipped the kid twenty bucks every time he let one of his whores in through the side entrance.

"It's room four-twenty-one," the bellhop told her in a conspiratorial whisper.

"Thanks." She took the elevator to the fourth floor and tapped on the door three times.

"Megan! Don't you look lovely, my dear," Trevor greeted her in a nearly transparent robe.

"That's a wonderful robe. Is it silk?" she asked.

"It's actually a kimono I picked up on a business trip in Japan. And yes, it is silk."

"Oh, it's just gorgeous. Let me try it on," Megan said.

"Well, that would leave me in quite a predicament, since I'm going au naturale underneath," Trevor said with a grin.

"Isn't that why we're here, baby?" she cooed.

"You're right. We're both sophisticated adults. No sense in beating around the bush," Trevor said as he slipped off the silk kimono. The little blue pill he had taken an hour earlier didn't have much to work with, but it was doing its best to rally the troops.

Megan pushed him onto the bed playfully and said, "Do you always pick up strange women in the park?"

"Only the most beautiful ones."

"You know, you shouldn't talk to strangers," she said.

"And why is that?"

"Because you never know if a stranger is gonna be naughty or nice."

"Are you naughty, or nice?" Trevor panted.

Megan smiled a mischievous little smile and motioned for him to come closer by wiggling her index finger.

"Is it a secret?" he asked, "because I'm good at keeping secrets. Especially dirty ones." He leaned in even more, but instead of getting her warm, wet tongue in his ear like he had hoped, he got something cold and hard.

"I've got a .357 magnum against your head right now," Megan whispered in her most seductive voice, "and that click you just heard was me cocking the hammer back."

"No," he wheezed. "No, don't. Please. I have children." His body seemed to turn to jelly.

"Don't try any stupid shit, alright?" she advised.

"All right. Take anything you want."

"I intend to." Megan bound his hands, feet, and mouth with the duct tape. It didn't seem fair. The man was just a naked, sobbing, doughy mess. She could have managed without the gun. His wallet had about three hundred dollars in it. She swept his watch, some gaudy jewelry, and his car keys off of the nightstand into her purse. There were some assorted drugs in his suitcase: a lot of coke, a little pot, and some prescription pills. She knew people who could move stuff like that. There was also a bottle of Tabasco sauce, but she left that alone.

It was a decent score -- enough to keep her going.

But going where?

The questions began to sprout up in her mind like ugly weeds. Was this it? Was this her life now? Armed robbery, the endless miles of highways and byways, the slummy side of big cities, backwater towns and bus stations?

She was pretty sure Roy would cave in and rat on her and everybody else he could think of the minute he got caught. It wasn't his fault. He was too young, too soft. She would have to run for the rest of her life.

Article © Hawkelson Rainier. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-10-04
Image(s) are public domain.
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