Ian had given himself an extra day just to clear his head the best he could. He was able to blend in with everyone else around him so far since his appearance had changed. No one would know any better if they saw him at first glance. He knew that there was another motel a few miles away where he could rest, granted he’d be able to stay without showing any identification and paying cash.
He knew that the Rosa Marie Inn didn’t check identification, but he had already stayed there. Hell, the police may have already searched that place. The owners probably had no idea that a fugitive had just gotten a room the other night.
With his head down, Ian walked along the sidewalk, glancing up ahead of him every so often. It wasn’t long before he came upon a Budget Deluxe Motel with Free Wi-Fi. The complex looked like absolute garbage and the people standing around in the parking lot and against the railings outside the rooms looked fitting. He saw the main lobby door where he would have to buy a room, but it had a Back in 30 minutes paper duct-taped to the glass window. Ian peered inside and saw a waiting room, a desk – and a heavyset woman sleeping in the chair behind it. Her mouth was open, and he could faintly hear her snoring through the glass.
Ian raised his hand to knock on the window then paused, deciding against it. He looked around. There were no cameras, no visible staff anywhere – there was an elderly maintenance woman pushing a cleaning cart from one room to another but that was it. He backed away and looked at some of the doors visible from his point of view. The motel was a three-story building curved in a rectangular arch around the main parking lot. Some room doors were open. One of them in particular on the second floor had what sounded like a couple screaming and arguing with each other.
He looked around some more. There were two guys passing a joint around, hanging by a dumpster. There was a clear and obvious prostitute taking money from a skinny tweaker-looking guy, who then proceeded to walk together into one of the rooms on the first floor. Without warning he heard a car door slam, tires screech and a muscular black man with a do-rag yelling “Nigga fuck you! I’ll fuckin’ find you, nigga!” as he ran after the brown sedan that tore through the parking lot.
Ian walked closer to one of the rooms on the second floor where he heard the shouting couple. He couldn’t make out exactly what they were saying at first but then it became more audible.
“Give me the fucking money you owe me. You owe me you fucking bastard!”
“Bitch I don’t owe you shit! This fucking thing was your idea and you fucked it up!”
“I don’t give a shit! You agreed. We had a fucking deal!” Something shattered against a wall. Ian jumped as he eavesdropped. “We had a fucking deal you fucking asshole!”
“Bitch get the fuck away from me!” A bald guy with a beard ran out of the room with the open door holding a backpack on one shoulder.
“Where the fuck do you think you’re going, asshole?!” The woman yelled a she chased him out of the room. Her voice echoed through the parking lot. She had tattered red hair and scars all over her face. “I’ll fucking find you! You owe me! I’ll fucking kill you!”
She chased him down the stairs and into the street as the yelling continued. Some of the people in the parking lot cheered at the commotion. It was chaotic but what Ian saw was an opportunity. He looked down the street as the shouting couple ran and turned around the block – then he looked at the empty room. Without skipping a beat, he bolted up the stairs and into their vacant room.
The room smelled like cigarettes but there didn’t seem to be any valuables or belongings in it. Quickly, Ian shut the door behind him and locked it immediately. It was substantially quieter inside the motel room. If the couple were to actually be gone, it would be a free room.
At this point, however, Ian wondered if the room was worth the risk. The police were surely looking for him, yet looking for him in the wrong spot. Even if the police were to come to the motel and ask the sleeping fat woman if they had seen Ian Avery, she would have no record of him. Even if they searched every room, the chances of them finding something else or some other criminal activity were substantially higher – at least that’s what he thought.
He laid some of the clean towels from the bathroom on top of the bed and rested on it. Ian wanted to minimize the contact he would have with whatever the shouting druggy couple touched. He stared at the ceiling and closed his eyes.
Some time went by and he felt slightly rested. He realized he actually managed to sleep since he woke up when the sun was still down. It was around 5:30 in the morning. He sleepily stood up and peered out the window. “This is my life now,” he said to himself. His stomach rumbled. There were some complimentary crackers on the desk in the room. They were stale. He was thirsty but the only water available was the water from the sink and the shower – and it smelled like sulfur.
The shouting couple never returned, and no one checked on the room. He looked at the chair that he propped up against the door handle just in case. He went to the bathroom and took a shower in the smelly sulfur shower with the trace amounts of shampoo that were left in the tiny travel-sized bottles.
Ian stalled before leaving the hotel room. He knew that once he would leave, his next step would be to meet Jebon – and that would mean the start of whatever would happen next. He wasn’t prepared. Then again, he could never be prepared.