By the time the pair had reached the Hodges' home, only a faint sliver of light was visible in the west. John opened the front door, and held it for Lissie. Walking in, she could quickly smell Martha's chili simmering in the kitchen.
"Smells great," she noted.
John led Lissie to the kitchen, where Martha was busy cooking her chili and making Bill taste it.
"Ah!" Bill exclaimed. "Lissie, maybe you can tell Martha what she's doing wrong."
Martha spun around to see Lissie grinning from ear to ear.
"Oh, Lissie! You do know the competition is tomorrow right? I don't want any spies in my kitchen."
"Don't worry, Mrs. Hodge, I've already finished my recipe."
"Okay." The tone in Martha's voice reflected her lingering wariness.
Mrs. Hodge left the kitchen and disappeared into the bedroom. Lissie sat down next to Bill and looked at the empty bowl in front of him.
"So is she trying to make you fat too?"
Looking down at his stomach, Bill replied "Oh, I don't need any help with that."
Bill turned towards Lissie and back to John.
"Uh, John, can I speak with you in private?"
While Lissie remained seated in the kitchen, Bill led John to the front porch of the house.
"John," Bill began, "Words got around that you're planning on going to Los Angeles. Is that true?"
"Yeah, but I still don't know how long that's going to take. From the looks of it, it could be a month before I set off."
"To be honest, John, how fast you're able to get out of here isn't my biggest concern."
"What is then?"
Bill looked down at his feet, and began to speak.
"What do you mean?"
"She hates it here in Salton."
"But I thought she loved everybody here."
Bill lifted his head.
"She does, she does. She just dislikes the smallness of Salton. It's completely different from New York. The only reason she has stayed here so long is because she doesn't have any way to get out."
"Oh. I think I know what you're implying."
"She's usually pretty shy so I was surprised when she warmed up to you so quickly. You can see how fond she is in the way she looks at you, John. To her, you're escape. You're freedom."
As Bill finished this statement, Lissie walked through the front door.
"I think I should be heading back home now."
"Goodnight, Lissie," replied Bill.
Mrs. Hodge opened the front door, carrying John's guitar case and a large suitcase.
"Are you kicking me out, Mrs. Hodge?"
"You could call it that. I think you'll enjoy your time in Salton a lot more if you stay with Lissie. You're going to Los Angeles right?"
"How do you know that?"
"She told me."
From the sidewalk, Lissie shouted "Coming, John?"
"You better you go, John. I packed all the clothing from your bedroom for you." Martha said.
"Goodnight," John spoke. "I guess I'll see you at the chili cook-off."
"Goodbye, dear," Martha replied.
John walked to Lissie, who waited impatiently on the sidewalk. He turned to wave to Bill and Martha but they had already gone back inside the house.
"In case you're wondering," Lissie said, "This was all my idea. I thought you'd enjoy your time in Salton a lot more if you weren't stuck in the Hodges' home. They're not exactly the most exciting people in the world."
John thanked her. The two set off towards Lissie's house. Right outside the front door, Lissie spoke to John.
"You know, I have an extra bedroom you could use."
John thanked her and accepted for the offer. Once inside, Lissie led John to the room. He set his suitcase and guitar at the foot of the bed. Turning back towards the threshold, he could see Lana leaning against the doorway.
"If you need anything, just holler."
"Aren't you going to sleep?" John asked.
Lissie left the bedroom. John pondered her statement and looked out the doorway. He called her name but she had already left the house.