The early evening air sobers me up a little as I walk across the street behind Leigh.  We must have painted quite the picture for the throng of tourists and senior citizens we passed: me in my court appearance Sunday best and her in her pre-evening evening gown.  The street is occupied by Hawaiian shirts and sandals.  I can feel sweat start to drip from my underarms as chubby pink faces all double take the curvaceous Leigh.  A few men offer me that "way to go guy" nod that classless married men have down to an art form.  Ordinarily none of these people would bother me, but Leigh's re-emergence in my life sparks a bit of my old wildness. I want to laugh at these everyday social security numbers in vacation garb.  I want to laugh until I remember I am one. 

"For someone who wants to talk, you're not saying much."

"Back off, Nate," she hisses. 

Apparently, on this street at this time, we do not know each other.  I stay four or five steps behind and enter her hotel, a quaint, old fashioned beach motel converted to a bed and breakfast with an ornate lobby. 

She saunters up to the front desk, greets the octogenarian behind the counter with a wave and says, "This is my guest."

"Please sign in," she says, barely looking up from her crossword puzzle as her liver spot coated hand turns the guest registry book in my direction. 

I sign the name, Rob Simmons, the name of Leigh's dead brother.  Leigh doesn't see this.  She has the elevator door open for us by the time I finish my chicken scratch.  I made sure to sign the name left-handed because I am not left-handed.  Old habits die hard, I know, but it turns out dead habits can rise. 

The elevator is small, a little bigger than a dumb waiter, and only has room for four people at a time or seven hundred pounds, or so the warning advertises. 

The hallway walls on the second floor are wall-papered with pelicans, palm trees and flamingos.  

"Don't ever change, Florida," I laugh. 

"Reminds me of the wallpaper in that old Clearwater Waffle House," says Leigh. 

"They actually redid that décor,"

"Tragic loss to the art world."

She uses her keycard to open the door to her room, which features a miniature sitting area, small kitchen and surprisingly ample closet space.  The wallpaper on these walls are yin and yang symbols in pink and blue and for a moment I think about children and what it would be like to have some. 

Leigh goes into the bathroom as I undo my tie and hang up my suit coat.  When she comes out, ten minutes later, she is free of makeup and wearing only a bra and panties. 

"The AC in here is atrocious," she says. 

"Put on some clothes." 

"You can take the boy out of the Midwest…" her voice trails off as she heads into the closet and puts on a pair of blue cotton shorts and a white T-shirt with the word "Pink" on it in gray lettering. 

"So," she lights a cigarette.  "Learn anything?"

"Jim and Jan are here."

"Really?"

"I think they're running a long con because they were tan as hell and claiming to be a couple on vacation from Wyoming.  Truth is I don't think they're after your score.  They seemed generally interested in catching up with me without looking obvious about it.  They even bought me dinner."

"Those two don't smash and grab," she says as I light a cigarette. 

She hands me an ashtray. 

"And they don't move jewels," I add. 

"But what's that about old dogs and new tricks?"

"I don't know.  With Jim and Jan it's all about the hustles: fake life insurance policies and bogus antiques.  They probably just picked that hotel because you can get a room without a credit card.  They're probably a totally different couple outside that hotel."

She takes a long pull on her cigarette, stubs it out in one of those too-small hotel ashtrays and says, "I need a cracker.  A good one."

"So find one.  I've been out of the game ten years and I never cracked a box in my life."

"His is quality: a ten number code and a fingerprint scanner.  I'll send out feelers tomorrow morning.  The print is no problem, but the code…" she purses her lips and looks to the ceiling like a high school student contemplating a calculus equation.  "Codes can be tough."

"It's portable though, right?"

"You would think.  It's in a hotel room for crissakes, but no, it's built into the floor."

"Well, it is a nice hotel and he has a lot to lose."

"No use worrying about it now.  Take off your clothes."

"What are you talking about?"

"Come on, Nate.  You know you want to."

I want to.  And I do.  We work each other over like experts with something to prove, each one trying to blow away the other with our newly developed sexual prowess.  We're both better than we were nine years ago, the last time we'd made love.  But somehow it isn't as good as nine years ago.  Somehow it's more… desperate.  And there's an inherent sadness to the whole thing.  But orgasms are orgasms and no one complains about orgasms. 

She showers first while I pour myself a drink from the makeshift bar atop her dresser: whiskey and sour. 

After I shower we get in bed and turn on the television: it isn't yet Ten but we're both exhausted, me from an afternoon of drinking and her from an afternoon of doing… well, whatever it is that Leigh does to set up suckers. 

"There's a golf swing update on the news," she says. 

"There always is," I laugh. 

I had waited for the right moment to say this, and as she giggles like a young school girl I decide to break the news:  "I saw Burns."

"Senior?"

"Yup."

Her mouth falls open and she immediately slams it shut.  I could hear her teeth strike each other. 

"Did he recognize you?"

"He pretended not to, kept calling me Nick like he used to back in the day."

"I remember: Nick McGrath.  He loved fucking with you."

"He bought me drinks and told me stories about a nephew he doesn't have.  He even gave me a business card." 

I hand her the little piece of cardboard. 

"There's a cell number on the back," I offer. 

"Shit," she says. 

"Yup," I agree. 

"I need a drink."

I rise from the bed and make my old friend a whiskey sour. 

To read the previous part of this series, click here

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