3

Inside a small motel in Wahawouche, Harrison lay on top of the dusty covers on the creaky old bed, watching the white moon high in the sky from the window. The window had spider webs running to the top to the sill, and dead bugs lay in curled, crumpled defeat at the bottom. A brown, hairy spider caught his eye in the moonlight. Occasionally, yellow squares would dance across the wall opposite the window, signaling an oncoming car. Sometimes when it slowed, Harrison looked out the window and watched it emit people, uneasy. Something in his stomach turned as an old man, possibly Lontosta, walked out of his car, but the tendrils receded a little bit when he bore no resemblance.

There was a brown digital clock on the bedside table that read ten thirty. It was clearly past that because it was starting to get light out. What a crappy motel, he thought.

The reporter, on the other bed across the room, was sleeping softly, but every so often she shifted and turned over. Her face was contorted with a mixture of fear and apprehension. Harrison thought that there might be excitement and anticipation in her mind also. More yellow shadows drove across the wall, but this car slowed. Harrison's stomach, instead of flipping faster, stopped dead in its tracks. Harrison froze, knowing that they were here. But he did not move, not even when fear gripped his brain and panic finally found his heart. But he realized that he should not be just standing here, he just be doing something. He shoved fear and panic's fingers back into the dark and quickly woke up Laura.

She turned slightly, but did not open her eyes. Harrison shook her again, and finally she opened them. "Wha—" Then she saw Harrison's eyes and she recoiled, fully forgetting that she had been sound asleep thirty seconds ago.

"They're here!" Harrison and Jiminy Cricket whispered fiercely.

Lontosta and John pushed open the motel doors, Lontosta feeling some serious regrets about having the car's lights on when he drove in. But there wasn't much to do about that, was there? Anyway, they had kept their eyes on all of the windows overlooking the parking lot, so they couldn't have missed it if Harrison had been on the lookout. But a new question burst into his mind: Did he even need to look out the window?

As the doors closed after behind them, a man behind the counter looked up from his football game behind the registration desk. The man had a sweaty white shirt and a beer can in his left hand. His filthy feet were propped up on the chair next to him. "Hello, gennelman. You fellas need a room? Sorry, but we're all filled up. Yesirree." He turned back to the football game with a swig of beer.

"Excuse me, we're from the FBI—" At this last word, the man behind the desk jumped up, spilling his beer can and shoving his chair-stool across the room. Papers on his desk went flying, including a porn magazine that Lontosta eyed and smirked. The man staggered back and finally, in a shaky voice, said, "Look, er, fellas, I didn't do no nothing!"

Lontosta's face straightened behind his sunglasses. "We don't want you; we're looking around for someone that took a room for the night." He rose an eyebrow. "Unless you've got something you want to show us . . . ?"

"No, that's quite all right," the man said with a nervous laugh as he picked up the chair, the beer can and his composure. "What do you need?"

"Do you have someone named 'Shawn Anderson' here?" John said, no longer wanting to be the sidekick in this operation. It was getting good. Lontosta, this time, didn't scold him with a glare; he just pulled out a black and white photo of him.

"Yeah. Sure . . ." he said, before a quick glance at his one paper still on the desk. "Ah, room twenty two." Lontosta and John walked out. "Hey, do you fellas need anything? A beer, maybe?"

"That's quite all right," Lontosta said, utterly disgusted. They found the stairs and a sign reading 'Rooms 20-25 Up Steps.' After a few steps, Lontosta whispered, "No! You go outside and watch the windows. See if he does anything stupid. We've got backup coming soon; that'll keep you company.

John hurried back down the steps and out the door, winking at the man, who grunted in annoyance.

Lontosta, watching him go (not exactly quietly), pulled out his gun and was glad that he was alone. It was his case. It had been his case for a long time. His business. Swiftly but quietly, he went up the steps. At one point, he almost slipped in a greasy puddle of liquid. Revolted once again, he regained his balance and got to the top.

The dim hallway was lit by two light fixtures, each at the opposite end. On each side of it were doors with numbers stamped in crude black ink near the top. A fat grey rat scurried across the floor and dove into a rough hole near room twenty. Lontosta blinked, adjusted his sunglasses, and crept along the hallway, his gun raised and ready. When he got to room twenty two, he hesitated and closed his eyes. Finally, a searing pain shot up his leg as he kicked the door followed by screams of fear from adjacent rooms.

The room was empty. He brought a sweaty hand to a sweaty forehead. Another dead end. His shameful thoughts were interrupted by a pain on the side of his head as he fell to the floor, unconscious.

"Come on!" Harrison whispered to Laura, who was still groggy. Harrison doubted that she had understood any of the events that had just taken place. Stepping over Lontosta's body, they made their way down the steps, out the door, past a bewildered, frozen agent and to Harrison's car. The man at the front desk barely glanced away from the game as they escaped.