Two teenagers, armed with strange behaviors, boring chit-chat, and little reason, check into a motel.
“What, exactly, did the receptionist mean?” Johnathan fumbled with the key to their room, momentarily forgetting which way to turn it. He finally managed to get the door open, proving to himself and Aileen that the exterior of the seedy motel wasn’t the extent of its seediness. In fact, the rooms of the seedy motel were equally seedy. “‘Think bigger’?”
“You’re kidding, right?” Aileen lifted her duffel bag from the dirty walkway, futilely attempt to brush the dirty motel essence off the bottom with her heel. “You signed the book as John Smith.” The room was filled with several odors, only about half of which Aileen could identify.
“Because that’s my name.” And indeed it was. “Well, it’s Johnathan, but that’s five extra letters.” Johnathan removed his backpack, placing it on one side of the bed. “It’d be four if I didn’t use the ‘h’, but still. That’s valuable time.” He glanced down at the bed. There was a stain that he desperately hoped was dirt. And another that he desperately hoped was yogurt.
Aileen placed her duffel on the other side of the bed, unzipping it and removing a small wooden box with one fluid motion. “We know that, but she didn’t. I want you to think for a second. Two teenagers sign into a motel with the name ‘John Smith’. Just think about that. What was going through that receptionist’s mind?”
Johnathan thought about it. It took him just a moment longer than it probably should have to realize what the receptionist must have thought. “Oh. Oh…” He scoffed. “But, we’re not… You know.”
“You really don’t need to ask, you realize. I’m not into the whole… Scrawny, pale, Norman Bates-y look.” She paused for a moment, her eyes locking on a point in the distance, far outside the confines of the motel room. “I’m also not crazy about the idea of banging my cousin.”
“Half-cousin.” Johnathan corrected her.
“Yeah, that’s not a thing. Even if it was, still weird.” Aileen said, pulling her gaze away from the unseen point. “Please tell me you’re not trying to seduce me.”
“Oh, god no. Christ, Aileen. God… No… I mean, no offence, but-”
“Why would I be offended?”
“If you weren’t my cousin, I still wouldn’t sleep with you. That's why.” Johnathan opened his own backpack, pulling out a wooden box identical to Aileen’s. “Shall we?”
“Might as well.” Aileen carelessly tossed her box to the floor as she stepped, taking unnecessarily long strides, to the chipped nightstand next to the bed. She grabbed the alarm clock and carelessly tore the wire from the back. The display went dark as the plug tore from the device. As she did this, Johnathan opened his box, pulling out a piece of children’s sidewalk chalk, pale blue, and drew a vertical line on the wall.
Aileen moved about the room with a rehearsed rhythm, unplugging, turning off, and otherwise deactivating every electronic device in the room. Johnathan, with a series of slow, deliberate strokes, drew vertical lines around the room, each one about nine inches from the other. He moved so carefully, each line drawn done so hesitantly, that the chalk remained much the same size. He continued long after Aileen finished with the devices.
“You hear Jo’s back in town?” She asked him. Aileen was horribly unnerved by the silence of the room, especially after she eliminated the electric hum of every appliance. “What’re your thoughts on that?”
“That depends.” Johnathan said in the brief pause between two lines.
“On which Jo, and which town. This town? Or are we talking about Sarielle?”
“Home as in Sarielle, or home as in…” Johnathan glanced back, and in the look on Aileen’s face, knew she wasn’t talking about Sarielle. “Okay, so not Sarielle. But which Jo? Joey Magmen?” He switched the chalk over to his other hand long enough to wipe his fingers on his pants. “Joanna Egret?”
“Jo as in Jophiel.”
“Ah.” Johnathan remembered his last meeting with the archangel. While it had been pleasant and polite, he knew they hadn’t left on the best of terms. “Didn’t he set Bruce on fire last month?”
“Bruce had it coming.” Aileen said. “He was a dick, bless his soul.”
“Why’re you bringing this up?”
“Dunno. We should get lunch next time we’re in town. He owes us.”
“Indeed.” As Johnathan drew the last line, moving his arm from the floor where he ended, Aileen dipped down to grab her own box.
“You all set there, Johnny?”
Johnathan picked his box from the bed and replaced the chalk.
“Perfect.” Aileen removed her coat and spread it flat on the floor. “Now, let’s get this over with. Hell’s not going to unleash itself.”