THEY ARRIVED IN BOSTON IN THE THICK OF DARK. Wind blustered around the corner of the terminal. Two policemen stood in the bus terminal, watching arrivals and departures. When one of the cops prodded a woman asleep on a bench and surrounded by voluminous bags, Josh knew they’d have to find a place to crash.
Nik stood in the center of the terminal silent, shivering every few seconds. He headed for the bathroom as soon as they disembarked, and this time Josh followed him in. They both pissed, splashed their faces with water, and left the small reeking room. Outside, Nik pointed down the street with the brightest lights.
“There’s a Y down here,” he said. “On Boylston.”
But the Y was booked. The young clerk behind the counter suggested the Holiday Inn four blocks down.
They returned to the street. Overhead streetlamps flickered with each gust of wind. They almost missed the motel. The ‘L’ and ‘I’ parts of the sign had blinked out, so it read Ho day Inn. The lobby looked like any other Holiday Inn lobby: stark, efficient, too bright with incandescent lights, fake ficus trees in pots. Three men sat in green vinyl chairs drinking from small brown bags. The boys paid cash for the cheapest available room, a queen bed for $119.
The sixth floor room overlooked an exit ramp from the elevated highway. Trucks barreled down the elevated highway, their wheels hitting some bump or metal plate, the carumph echoing up. Nik threw his backpack on a chair and wandered into the bathroom.
“Lousy view, lousy amenities,” he said. “Thin towels you can see through.”
He rifled through the drawers, then picked up the phone.
“Can we please have a room service menu?”
Josh heard a muffled laugh from the other end of the phone. Nik slammed the phone into the receiver.
“What a dump. What a goddamn dump. No restaurant, just coffee and donuts in the morning. I am fucking starving!”
“We passed a vending machine,” Josh offered.
He dug in his jeans pocket and came up with a handful of change. Nik propped open the door with the phone book and together they walked down the hall, bringing the small plastic bucket for ice. Josh was parched, thirsty more than hungry.
The coins jangled in the machine. Nik pressed P2 and a bag of pizza-flavored Doritos tumbled into the chute. Ice clinked into the bucket.
Back in the room, Josh drank glass after glass of icy water. Nik crunched through the bag of chips, then pulled off his shoes, his shirt, and clambered into the queen size bed. Josh went to the bathroom, needing to release all the water he had drunk. When he came back, Nik was snoring.
He clicked off the lamp. The sheet felt cool against his bare legs and chest, and he shivered, but not from cold. He thought about tomorrow, about the possibilities. He thought about performing on corners to large crowds, the jingle of coins in his guitar case, of someone in the audience hearing him and appreciating his talent. It would all be worth it, he thought.
Light from the city glowed through the window, a gray haze obscuring clouds and stars and moon. The roar of the highway lulled him, the steady carumph-carumph of the trucks like a metronome. He woke up only once. A block of white light entered the room, the click of the door, and he sensed Nik leaving the room. He looked at the clock—2:13—but was so tired he did not care, he could not rise from the bed to check. In the morning, the sun blazed into the room, and Nik was still gone.
This week's installment of THE RUNAWAY, a story from THE MINISTER'S WIFE, currently under construction. Finished the entire story a few days ago, this baby clocks in at >13,000 words. Revision heaven awaits! If you wish to read the prior installments, please go HERE and follow the breadcrumbs back to ground zero.
As always, thank you for reading--this is all for you. Peace...