There is a knock at the hotel room door, a soft knock that a living person would not have heard, made by the tip of an index finger tapping on the molding around the door-frame. Coral. The click of the lock before I open the door is a gunshot by comparison.
Coral stares at me for a moment, and then her eyebrows raise. "And can I come in?"
No sense in pretending I don't have company. I step to the side. "Sure."
She walks in, casual, not at all like an inspecting drill sergeant. The girl on the bed is unmoving and naked and mostly covered by a haphazardly positioned bedsheet. "Is she a problem?"
Are we going to have to dispose of that? It's an odd question, since I'm as careful as she is, and she knows that. "No. Sleeping. Probably for a while."
Coral sits in a chair in the corner, clearly working up to something. When she finally speaks, it's deflection: "Who is she?"
"Diner waitress." I shrug, and then add, "I had a craving for a chocolate shake."
"I haven't had a shake in forever." Coral gets a far-away look in her eyes. "Used to be a place in Chicago, in the fifties, just down the street from my place. Roller skates and window trays. I'd go all the time. Always full of teenagers. Greasy combs and letter jackets and poodle skirts."
"What's up, Coral?"
She looks at the girl, then at me. "Rocky's gone. Actually left while it was still light out. Don't know where he went, but he dropped off his key at the desk. Wen's on the net buying a ticket to Hong Kong."
"She's been talking about it. But Rocky?"
"He doesn't trust me anymore."
Because of Gunnar? Other stuff? What have I missed? "Oh."
"What about you?"
I sit on the edge of the bed, lightly so as not to jostle the sleeping waitress. "I have no plans to go anywhere."
"You like Santa Fe?"
"Not what I mean."
Coral nods. "Right. Okay." Coral is lost in thought for a while. She closes her eyes, her head drifts to one side: it's a thing she does, when there's a problem, when she's mulling, when she's unsure or unready or unconvinced. I start packing.
I am in the bathroom collecting toiletries when Coral appears at the door, her expression and demeanor normal, as if she's worked out whatever it was she had to work out. "The car, ten minutes. Is that enough time to take care of…?" She nods back towards the bed.
Coral doesn't say anything else, just lets herself silently out; Coral would make a good ghost if she wasn't already a vampire.
I dress the waitress without waking her. Her nametag reads, 'Maisie'. The two small wounds on the back of Maisie's thigh are already mostly healed, and it's likely she will never notice them. She'll eventually wake up alone and just figure her out-of-town one-night stand checked out early and decided to let her sleep in, which will be true. I am still someone disturbed that Coral entertained the possibility that I'd killed Maisie, enough to ask, even. What the hell happened with Rocky?
I grab my suitcases, drop off the key at the desk and head out to the car, Coral's car, the Lincoln with the tinted windows. The sun isn't up yet but it's already hot. There's a sports bag on the driver's seat stuffed with twenty grand in cash and the keys to the ignition and the trunk, and no Coral. And that's that.
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