Ext., dusk on a summer evening. Dust is rising slowly from the canyon next to a grey building falling into disrepair.
The car pulled away from my feet. I ran, scratching the tail light with my fingernails before it sped away from me in a haze of engine noises and exhaust smells. I tried to string together the letters and numbers on the license plate, but they were soon too far away. This was not what I had expected—not what Don had planned in any case. I turned back, panting and doubled up, and got into the battered black car where I had left my coat, my hat, and—most importantly—my gun.
The building to my left, out of which I had stepped barely five minutes earlier, seemed to be leaking police officers. I turned, my eyes locking on to the portly figure of Don Tannhauser as he tried, and failed, to stem the flow of blue uniforms and holsters. It was pointless, of course, but it wouldn’t do not to make an effort at all. Don strolled up to the open window. He smelled of sweat and looked like a pig’s ear that had been left out for a week.
“Y’okay?” he asked.
“Sure, but I could do with about a week’s notice next time.”
“Yeah, well. This was sudden Ray, you know that.” He looked away. “These offices haven’t been used in nearly ten years.”
“Well that’s probably why they picked the place. Nothing here at all except dust on the roads and dust on the desks in there.” I tilted my chin up at the abandoned block. Don walked down the left hand side of the car, scanning the horizon. I guessed he was thinking something. But I never quite knew.
Ext., night. Delaney slips from a hotel revolving door, hands in pants pockets, attempting to look nonchalant.
The doorman nodded for probably the hundredth time that day, and it showed. I walked into the Monrovia hotel in the hopes that there would be no questions asked by the clientele or the rather less illustrious staff about my rather dusty appearance. The plush carpet rolled away toward a staircase which in turn gave way to a double-sided balcony. I scanned the people idling their day away above me.
I trod carefully and made my way to the desk. “I’m here to see a Mrs Hartnett. Raymond Delaney.”
“One moment, sir.”
One ‘one moment, sir’ later I made my way to the elevator and rode to the fifth floor. Two doors to the right, I knocked on room 521, and was answered by a silk dress wearing familiar features set in a permanent smile. Her grin crept to the corners of her eyes, and the silk dress draped itself over me, arms first.
“Ray,” she said, pulling away.
“I thought it was always ‘Mr Delaney’,” I said. If I was expecting a blush, I hadn’t realised it. But its absence left me in no doubt as to how much time had passed, and just how much Candy Soosman had changed, on the inside at least.
“Well I’ve never been one for formality in my married life,” she replied, rather too firmly. She now raised her left hand, palm towards her face, and let the stone on her finger glint in the Monrovia lights.
I smiled. Falsely. And said, “congratulations” in the right place. She grinned, but the lines didn’t make it to her eyes this time. She pushed the door shut and I stepped into the room. To the left, next to the bathroom, stood Don. He looked concerned. I looked confused. We sat down and began to talk.
Ext., night. Zoom out from Candy Soosman Hartnett’s hotel room window. The Monrovia is lit up like a beacon preserved for only the wealthiest of passing merchants. The heat dissipates into the darkness.