driving slowly along pacific coast hwy or camino real he found the miramar hotel after only several minutes. the neon sign blinking like a lighthouse guided him in the last several hundred yards. he parked. collected his bag. then made his way into the hotel lobby. it was deserted other than the night clerk behind the desk. his phony ID and mastercard proved once again they were solid as gold.
will you be needing any help with your bags, sir?
no, i just have this one bag. thank you.
he started to walk away towards the elevators but stopped and turned.
i need a wake-up call for 7:30 tomorrow morning.
not a problem, sir. 7:30 tomorrow morning.
he didn’t need the wake-up. it was just meant to make him seem like a normal guest. stepping into the elevator he noticed the desk clerk was already busy doing something else and was paying him no mind. so far so good he thought. he pushed the button for the third floor and the doors closed. the elevator deposited him on the third floor. the odd numbered rooms were to the right. he turned and walked to his room. he slipped the door card into the slot while pushing the door open.
the usual nondescript hotel room greeted him. he threw his bag on the bed. stripped off his clothes. found the bathroom. and took a long hot shower. after he finished he toweled off then put on the hotel robe. digging through the mini bar he found two bottles of cold absolut. opened them and poured both into a water glass. no ice. no traipsing through hotel hallways in a robe. bad form.
sitting at the desk he skimmed the yellow pages of the local phone book until he found what he was looking for. a local gallery that opened at 10am. he could tell by the address it wasn’t far from the hotel. the address and phone number were memorized.
while sipping the vodka and watching the thick pea soup fog he flipped open his cell phone. and made a call. a female voice answered on the second ring.
i’m in town and all is well.
very good. what about tomorrow evening?
tell our friend the meeting should be over by ten. i don’t foresee any problems. he should be very pleased with the outcome.
you’ll let us know if things don’t work out?
your standard payment procedure? with options?
yes and yes. my flight is already booked. the last one heading there tomorrow night. i should have plenty of time.
very good. it will be waiting for you.
thank you. good evening.
he stood up walked to the bed and pulled back the covers. finishing the vodka he turned out the light. removed the robe and got into bed. the thick fog muffled the sound of the surf. the muted surf lulled him to sleep.
he was awake before the phone call came at 7:30. his wake-up call. hanging up he stretched. then made his way to the bathroom while the in room coffee maker gurgled away. after his usual routine he sat at the desk drinking the bad coffee. from his wallet he removed the other ID. there was the visa card with the same photo on it as well. he then used some simple things from his bag to make himself look like the person in the photo. he put them both back in his wallet.
checking himself in the mirror he slipped out of the room. he made his way through the empty hallway to the elevator. once down to the lobby he quietly walked to the rear entrance and outside. if anyone had seen him they would think nothing of it.
the morning air was filled with fog but not as bad as last night. he walked briskly down the sidewalk to a restaurant he’d spotted on his way to the hotel the evening before. the place was open and smelled of frying pork product. always a good sign.
he found a table at a window towards the back of the restaurant. soon a waitress brought him a menu and fresh steaming coffee. she left him alone with the coffee. he found what he wanted and sat the menu aside. he always ate a hearty breakfast the morning of a job. he wouldn’t eat again until he was safely away.
have you decided?
yes. three eggs over medium. side of bacon and a sausage patty. extra crispy hash browns. how are the biscuits and gravy?
just like grandma made. we don’t get any complaints.
good. biscuits and gravy then. wheat toast and honey. a large glass of whole milk, orange juice, and more coffee.
you must be hungry.
i have a busy day ahead.
smiling the waitress left to place the breakfast order. he sipped his coffee and watched the restaurant begin to fill up with the morning breakfast crowd. he dawdled over his large breakfast. by the time he was finished the fog had lifted several hundred feet. still thick but now there was some visibility of perhaps several hundred yards. he paid his bill with the visa card and left a healthy tip. then got up to find the gallery.
the gallery was a few blocks to the south. he traveled slowly stopping to look into shop windows. no one noticed him. or was following him. by the time he reached the gallery it was open. he would be their first customer. not a real paying customer but their first. the bell above the door tinkled as he entered.
good morning, sir. how may i help you?
i’m looking for some watercolor work that might become collectible one day.
ah, you’ve come to the right place. we have several artists you may find interesting.
that’s what i hear.
the two men spent the better part of an hour looking over several different artist’s work. he finally settled on two smaller watercolors by a chinese lady who’s work he was familiar with. he paid with the visa card. the id and card passed muster. he had the shopkeeper ship the paintings to his next stop. they would be there when he arrived. another piece of his retirement puzzle was now in place
after the deal was complete he walked back to his hotel to find his room already clean. he removed the minimal disguise. and flushed it down the toilet. after that, he bent and broke both the ID and visa card into four pieces. they were flushed down the toilet as well. not perfect but good enough. he removed his clothing. pulled back the spread and blanket then got into bed. he spent the rest of the day watching sports talk TV and napping.
at 6pm he climbed out of bed. hit the shower again. then dressed. as he was finishing dressing his cell phone rang.
i have what we need.
very good. 7:30 where we discussed.
i’ll be there.