Mr. M had traveled a great distance to reach Mesa Rapids. It had been a strange trip. He’d taken nothing with him but a single black briefcase. When he arrived, it was close to three in the morning and almost no one saw him enter the Upshaw Mansion without knocking and without a key.
The night before, in a tiny town off the Historic Route 66 highway, at a seedy place called the Oasis Motel, registering under the name Darryl Simms, Mr. M had left his briefcase in his room and crossed the street to Sophie’s Cocina and Bar. He’d taken a seat near one end of the bar and ordered a whiskey neat from the busty bartender. The place had been nearly empty, a couple of men in the corner playing a card game without speaking and, besides the bartender, a very bored looking waitress swaying at a table in the corner, twirling her hair absently through the fingers of one hand while she used the other to gulp vodka from a glass. He’d had six drinks and he’d tipped well. No one had said a word to him and he hadn’t chosen to speak. Finally, as he stood to leave, the waitress had called out, “Hey. Passing through? Mind if I come with?”
Inside his motel room, the door firmly shut, Mr. M had sat in the room’s only chair and smiled at the woman sitting on the bed. The woman’s name was Caroline. She told him she’d grown up around there and that she’d moved away but then got a divorce and moved back. For fifty dollars he could do with her whatever he wanted.
Mr. M paid her and then said, “He’s finally come back.”
They sat in silence for a couple of minutes.
Caroline looked around the room, crossed and uncrossed her legs; they shone orange in the humming lamplight. “So...what do you wanna do?”
“I want to show you something,” Mr. M said, sweeping his briefcase from the table, resting it on his lap.
Mr. M smiled, and opened the case.