Chapter 7


Mason pulled the sleek hover car between two yellow lines.  With the parking lot nearly deserted, there was no lack of available parking.  The holo sign shining bright amidst the darkness marked it as a hotel. From the look of the exterior, it wasn’t anywhere near what the brochure had showed it to be.  Between entire sections of missing paint and graffiti covering what was left, there wasn’t much good about the place.

“So where are we?” said Durzak climbing from the car so quickly the rapidly building pile of trash accumulating on his side of the car tumbled to the pavement below.

“Two days South of New Beginnings,” said Mason with a much needed chuckle.

“Really?  I was hoping for something I didn’t know,” said Durzak looking over his shoulder as he stretched tired muscles.

“I sure don’t see a city ‘round here,” said Mason letting out a sigh as he tore a half numb butt from the driver’s seat.

“At least they have a diner.  I’m kinda on the famished side of things,” said Durzak retrieving a scatterer from the back seat.

“Well why don’t ya go get us a table while I go in and arrange us somewhere to sleep,” said Mason slapping Durzak’s shoulder on his way towards the motel entrance.

“Best idea I’ve heard all day,” said Durzak with a new pep to his lumbering steps.

Mason shook his head.  The smile on his face a far cry from the scowl he’d worn in New Beginnings.  He briskly walked across cold asphalt towards an aging door with a red entrance sign attached to a small overhang.  Through the glass covering the front he could just barely make out the tired head of a receptionist bobbing up and down.  Pushing open the door, he heard a small chime ring in the distance. Behind the desk bloodshot eyes looked up from a vidscreen.  

“Can I help you?” said a dark haired woman whose brown eyes betrayed just how tired she was.

“Here to check in,” said Mason rifling through a back pocket for a folded up flimsy sheet.

“Do you have a reservation?”

“Yep, it’s under the name Lecroix,” said Mason setting the flimsy on the counter separating them.

Mason stifled a yawn as the woman read back the details of his reservation.  The honeymoon suite. Single bed. It was to be his and Jessica’s for a few days.  Too tired to cry, he turned to head back out to the car where he and Durzak’s bags waited.  

The woman stopped him.  Asked if he needed directions to the room.  He nodded. With wide exaggerated movements she explained every twist and turn it would take to reach it.  For a small two story place it seemed to have more corners than he could rightly remember. After a quick thank you he walked from the cramped office.  

Mason stopped only long enough to gather a bag for each of them before following the woman’s directions.  First up a flight of stairs only to follow an outside walkway before turning down a small hall then into a door before taking a flight of stairs down to another inside level.  After that it was a straight shot down another hallway before climbing more stairs to the room on the left hand side of a small landing. By the time he reached the room, his arms felt like lead.  The bags which once felt light now seemed to weigh a hundred pounds apiece. Even maneuvering into the room was no easy task. Where most motels used bioscans to allow entry, this one still used coded handles attached to a swinging metal door with more dents than paint.  

Part of him was glad Jessica wasn’t there to see it.  The next time I think I’ll scout the place out first.  At least make sure the roaches aren’t bigger than the cats.  Thought Mason, a scowl reappearing on his face when he walked into the unexpectedly small room.    

Pressed tightly against the far wall lay a sunk in two person bed with a couch only a few feet in front of it.  Set into a crudely fashioned hole in the wall was what the brochure referred to as “the latest in vidscreen design”.  A shake of his head. Just a quick glance told him the thing was ten years past its prime. Even a colony planet held better.  At least it matched the rest of the rundown motel. Despite all appearances, it was still a far bit better than having to endure another night spent in the car.  

“This the room?” said Durzak squeezing broad shoulders through the narrow door frame.

“Yep,” said Mason setting a bag on either side of the bed.

“Not much to look at is it?”

“Nope.  What happened to the diner?”

“A single bed too?  Mason, I think you might have gone a bit cheap on this one,” said Durzak ignoring the question about the diner.  He knew if Mason knew they denied him entry for being Oregothian things wouldn’t go well. In the few seconds it took for him to register their reaction to him, thoughts of teaching them a lesson tempted him.  Giving in would only bring lawmen down on both their heads. Neither one wanted to start a war when running did just as well. Mason though was loyal. To the point he’d do something rash to ensure no one slighted a friend.

“Already had a reservation. The brochure made it look a whole bit better let me tell ya,” said Mason a far off look washing over his eyes letting the worry over the diner slip from an already preoccupied mind.

“You did have this whole vacation thing with Jessica planned out didn’t you?” said Durzak instantly realizing his mistake when he saw the tears gathering in Mason’s eyes.

“Just a tad,” said Mason kneeling down to undo the mag hooks securing his bag.

Durzak didn’t say a word merely pretended to search around the room for a non-existent remote for the vidscreen.  Neither doubted what would happen next. There was only one way to clear a mind full of painful memories. Mason rose with a bottle in his hands.  

“Uh before you leave… are you sure you want to stay here?  The car might be a good bit less nasty,” said Durzak emerging from where he dug in the couch cushions to reveal an extra large brown stained thong with the cut out of a heart in the center ringed by something white and crusty.

“Please tell me ya brought those with ya,” said Mason uncorking the top of the bottle.

“Think we both might need a taste of that whiskey,” said Durzak grimacing as he threw the underwear through the still open door.

“I’d rather be alone if ya don’t mind,” said Mason struggling to hold back a flood of tears.

“After everything we’ve been through together,” said Durzak putting a heavy hand on Mason’s nearly trembling shoulder.

Mason didn’t respond except to hand Durzak the bottle.  It was the only sign both men needed to know this night would be spent lamenting.  One mourning the loss of a love, the other a room where more unexpected surprises were sure to be found.    

Published by gunfighterfiction

Veteran and all around good ole cowboy

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