A darkened hotel room can’t hide the fact that the room is what one would call “Shady”. A single bed, plain puke green walls, a carpet that even the darkness can’t conceal is more stains than any plan for designs or color. A single chair has been pulled over to the large window. The blinds are drawn, but the headlights of traffic shine through barely hindered. A TV from the late eighties has dim wavering images, and no sound.
A single chair has an occupant. On the table next to the chair, a bottle of Jack Daniels sits. The bottle has a hefty dent, but the drinker barely seems to show the effects. A cigarette is in his hand, and the long ash, waiting to fall, shows that the man hasn’t moved in some time. A faint hiss announces that the cherry has reached his skin. Absently, the man reaches up and stubs out the smoke on the table, where it joins its brethren, scattered across the surface, inches from an unused ashtray.
The man reaches for the bottle, and picks it up. It begins its slow trip to his mouth, but stops before getting there. The man, still staring at the moving lights, and the hypnotic roar of passing cars, grunts, and then takes a drink. He wipes the back of his mouth, and sets the bottle back down on the table without looking. He almost misses. Almost.
A knock is heard on the door. The man doesn’t move. The knock repeats, harder this time. Silence. The man reaches out to the table again, and unerring finds the pack of Marlboros lying there. He picks on, and puts it in his mouth, and lights it with the lighter in his other. He takes a deep drag, and exhales at the window. The smoke hits the drawn blinds and fans out, mixing with the lingering haze. The click of the door seems to snap the man from his dream, and he leaps from the chair and slams a hand against the opening door.
Ham: DAMMIT WOMAN! I TOLD you I want to be ALONE!
A voice from outside the door surprises him.
Wevv: Indeed. That is why now is a good time to talk. Open the door Samuels.
Ham is frozen, but a sneer creeps onto his face, and he stands aside to let the door open. He leans casually against the doorframe, preventing Wevv from entering.
Ham: Just what the fuck do you think you’re doing?
Wevv stares at Ham, as Mr. Wang looms behind him.
Wevv: Well, let’s see…letting your room air out, and fill with the LOVELY smell of truck exhaust? An improvement, I agree, but I see that I’m wrong. Perhaps, what I’m doing is taking a stroll to see how the other half lives? Shall we continue this guessing game, or will you be gracious enough to let me in, so that we can continue this snappy patter in privacy?
Ham stress at Wevv. Wevv stares back. Mr. Wang looms some more. Ham finally straightens up off the doorframe and steps inside. Wevv looks at Mr. Wang and raises a hand, motioning him to come inside. Mr. Wang enters first. Wevv follows.
Ham has taken his seat at the window again. He picks up the bottle of Jack Daniels and takes a drink. A sip really. He seems amused by the instant look of disgust that crosses Wevv’s face when he entered. Wevv fans his face, and coughs. Mr. Wang looks around, and then takes two steps and checks the bathroom.
Ham: Nice, huh?
Ham: What the fuck do you want Wevv? Just spit it out, I’m tired of your shit.
Wevv: I was wrong about you. Simple enough?
Wevv: WELL! Isn’t this a first! Behold! I have trumped the mighty Ham in a battle of words! Allow me to repeat myself, I was wrong about you. You were not responsible for the attack on Mr. Wang. I know that now, and admit my mistake.
Ham: Jesus Fucking Christ! (Ham slams the bottle on the table) You came all the way out here, in the dead of night, to tell me what I already know! After all we’ve been through, you came to apologize?!?! To what, say you’re sorry?!? Get out. Now. It’s real tempting to try and complete the Matisse (Ham points down at a large, multicolor stain on the floor) with your blood.
Wevv sighs and reaches into the inside pocket of his suit. Ham tenses up, and grabs the bottle, ready to throw it, but before he can, Wevv has removed his hand, and thrown a hefty bundle onto the table.
Wevv: Take it, it’s yours.
Ham relaxes and puts the bottle down. He puffs his nearly forgotten smoke, and without taking his eyes from Wevv, picks up the bundle. His eyes widen at the sight, but that’s as far as the surprise goes. He drops the bundle of money back onto the table.
Ham: Mine you say. Hm. Interesting. And what, pray tell, did I do to deserve this?
Wevv sighs again, and starts to lean forward to sit on the bed, since it is the only place to do so. Mr. Wang rushes forward, handkerchief in hand to brush off the spot. Wevv slowly sits down, with groans and winces. Once seated, Wevv matches stares with Ham.
Wevv: You see Samuels, your attack on Mr. Wang tonight. With the chair. The blow into the ring steps. It didn’t match up with what he had deduced from the previous attack on Mr. Wang. The wrong angles, the wrong force used, all wrong. So, you’re cleared. Innocent, if such a word could ever be used to describe you. So, as a symbol of my regret for accusing you, I offer you that.
Ham picks up the wad of bills and waves them around carelessly, as he speaks, before dropping them back onto the table.
Ham: And this…is how you apologize?
Wevv: We’re both men of the world, Samuels. Words are just that, words, and frankly, I doubt you’d believe me if I spoke them. No, I find for a man of your ..background, that cash is more appropriate than offering a wardrobe full of hand tailored suit by the gentlemen in Savile Row.
Ham grunts and reaches out and takes another smoke. He slides the smoke into his mouth. With one hand, he brings up the lighter and with the other picks up the wad of cash. Wevv slowly stands, and Mr. Wang helps him. Ham lights the cigarette, but keeps the flame lit, as Wevv makes it to his feet.
Wevv: Well, this…has been a pure delight! I bid you good day sir.
Ham now seems entranced by the dancing flame of his Zippo lighter. He turns his head slightly, as Mr. Wang reaches to open the door for Wevv.
Ham: What would you say, my dear money grubbing Wevv, if I were to burn this filthy lucre you offer me as restitution for the most grievous wrong you have inflicted upon my most innocent person, causing me untold misery and mental anguish?
Wevv freezes. Not looking at Ham, but staring straight at the closed door, and speaking in a cold and low voice.
Wevv: Let me put this in a way even you can understand. Don’t be a stupid “fuck”. It’s your “motherfucking” money. BUT, were you to burn what one could, possibly, call an olive branch, in the hopes of gaining more money, then I would simply say this. Good “fucking” luck. Now, are we through tossing hypothetical questions at each other? I feel ill.
Ham: Get the fuck out Wevv. If I see you again, well, I wouldn’t want to incriminate myself again, would I?
Mr. Wang opens the door, and the roar of a passing semi can be heard. Wevv steps into the doorway, but pauses.
Wevv: One last thing. Consider it a final puzzle if you will. You didn’t attack Mr. Wang, but some one did. Some one who didn’t care that you took the fall. I wonder who that could be? Don’t you? After all, who could gain the most from you being a patsy? Yes, quite the quandary wouldn’t you say?
Wevv leaves, and Mr. Wang closes the door behind him, leaving Ham in the stagnant air of his motel room. Ham stares at the TV for a few moments, idly drawing on his cigarette. He then stabs out the half finished smoke on the table and picks up the bottle. As he tilts it back, he mutters.
Ham: Fucking Wevv. Always has to have the last word…