IT’S 6 AM. I lie on a bench in the bus station, the only traveler to’ve gotten off here, staring across the concourse at the shuttered café, imagining it open, myself outfitted with coffee and some kind of rubbery muffin alone at one of its tables.

 

The announcer rattles on above me. Coins start falling into vending machines, candy falling into hands.

 

I fall asleep on the bench, arms looped through one suitcase, legs through the other.

 

I wake up with two guys’ hands in my front pockets, each squeezing one ball.

 

I can’t overcome the sensation of those two hands belonging to the same person, though I can see it isn’t so.

 

“We did this in order to help you,” one says.

 

“We had to flip you in order to achieve it,” says the other.

 

I thank them as, slowly, they retract their hands.

 

It’s past noon. On the TV by the Arrivals board they’re getting ready to execute a guy. I hurry out of the station before they go through with it.

 

*****

NOW, to find a Hotel.

 

As it turns out, not too surprisingly, there’s only one downtown, and the Motel 6 way out on the Strip doesn’t seem the best place to start.

 

The porter has shown me to my Room. Check-in went well, I think.

 

Just like at Customs in Germany, there were no questions about the novel-bags, despite the smell and dark stains.

 

I stand modestly beside the porter in the elevator, watching the button he’s pressed.

 

The Room, once the porter’s gone, is perfect.

 

Big and comfortable, and replete with hiding places for my materials: panels that peel up, compartments under the rug, safes, back sections in the closet.

 

Preparing to parcel out the pieces, a wet soapy washcloth draped over my nose and mouth like an ether rag, I wonder if, at the front desk, they could tell exactly what I’d come here for and assigned me this Room accordingly, or if every Room in this Hotel is exactly the same, every guest just like me.

 

Even before the ether hits, I can tell it’s not a question I’m likely to make much headway on.

 

When I’ve hidden the pieces, I lie down, washcloth over my forehead, and listen as they begin to seep.

 

The Room is full of hiding places, but none are exactly sealed. For now, it sounds like a slow boil, like ants look, and to this sound I pass out.

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