Hell, it hardly covered fuel costs, but it gave me something to do and it was regular money. My private investigation agency was only three months old, built from the burned ruins of my cop career. The honourable discharge, on medical grounds, paid me very little in the way of actual money. I wasn’t going to turn down untraceable cash in hand payments for work. They were what would fill the days left until I died.
I tell you though, this Chevy is fucking uncomfortable. The seats are too hard, and the stick shift disallows any kind of meaningful leg room. Shifting frequently in my seat is the only way to keep comfortable and still retain a clear view. And boy, do I like having a clear view of you.
You’re gorgeous, I will give you that, and God, it’s so easy to stare. You have the oddest effect on me. In fact, I can’t seem to watch you without my dick sitting up and taking notice. I like my men tall, but Jeez, you must be six-five, maybe even six-six? The photo they gave me does not do you justice at all. It’s blurred and clearly taken with a telephoto lens; it’s grainy and lacks any real detail. Up close and personal, well, from ten feet away anyway, your hair is blonder.
It says in the papers they gave me that your eyes are blue, but I haven’t gotten that close yet so I can’t say for sure. You’re built though, and that’s where my freaking fantasies start to take hold with a sticky vengeance. I like my men built. I’m not a small guy, well, I don’t consider five-eleven short, but finding men that really tower above me is difficult, specially men with muscles like yours. Your chest is wide, your shoulders broad, your capable strong hands make short work of the carrying the cases you always arrive with.
The same cases you never leave with.
People don’t generally bring luggage here; pharmacy bags clutched in sweaty hands of desperate faced visitors, but no real luggage. This hotel is $19.99 a night for a reason. You were there for reasons of your own … but not the kind everyone might think, I would imagine. No one else would notice you leaving without the bags. I do because I see you take them in. It’s always around half an hour after arrival, and I log all this on my iPhone. Today would be my fifth time of watching you. The fifth Wednesday.
Today I’m looking to make first contact. Or rather, today I received the text that said I had to make first contact. I must admit I was a long way past intrigued, and bordering on ecstatic that I would finally get to touch you, find out if you’re as hard and muscled as you look from a distance. They say you’re gay, in the small box that’s there for extra notes, they wonder if you’re meeting another man in that hotel room. I’m supposed to watch for that but I never see another walking after you, or arriving before you. It appears to me you’re completely alone.
You did have a partner, some guy called Shaun, so I wonder how you would feel if I make advances. Once this gig is up and I hand over my observations of your boring visits to this out of the way no-tell-motel, then maybe we could meet up and pull some all nighters.
I wonder, though, if I would turn up dead like Shaun did. Dead as a dead thing—sliced in half just above his groin from side to side as cleanly as if one of those lasers from a James Bond film had been taken to him. The top half of him simply filed as ‘missing’. The report claimed it was an unrecognised weapon that had cut Shaun in half–an unnatural slice through skin and muscle and bone and when I see the photos and read the open ended autopsy, I must admit a shiver travels my spine with icy fingers.
I wait until the door to room 29 closes. It isn’t a much visited room, in fact if you take a look at the motel books–which I did–it shows the room is paid up in entirety for three months. That in itself raised warning flags. Why would you rent a room for three months, only visit on a Wednesday, carrying suitcases and then coming back empty handed. My imagination serves me the image of a room full of suitcases and nothing else, I want to see if that is true.
“I was waiting for you to make contact,” you say as you open the door after my knock. Your eyes are so blue they shine, and I wax poetical in my head at the sheer beauty of them.
"You were?" For a moment I’m stunned into silence at the casual way you accept my arrival.
“I need to ask some questions,” I finally manage to say.
“Shoot,” you say, moving away from the door and allowing me access. I walk in, cautiously edging around you, and the first thing I notice is the open suitcase.
The open suitcases filled with apples. Piles and piles of scented fresh green apples, all manner of varieties in tumbled piles.
“Are you a cop?” you ask curiously, tilting your head and blinking steadily. I am caught in your sapphire gaze, a strange humming in my head.
“PI,” I say simply.
“Shaun was a cop. Kinda.”
“Dead Shaun?” Silly question, I know Shaun was a cop, my notes detailed him as FBI. You wince at my question.
“He was a time cop.” I just stare. I know I am just staring, and sighing irritably you move to the wall, waving your hand in front of the scarred and peeling paint. The wall shifts, moves, whirls in front of my eyes, and I don’t understand what I am seeing. It’s like some kind of freaking tunnel. “He tried to follow me through a gate I opened at his apartment. The gate closed on him. He was severed.”
Well, that was one explanation for the sliced man, and also the missing upper torso, I suppose.
“Oh,” because seriously…what the fuck?
“If you want to come with me—” He pauses, hefting the first case of apples into the vortex and watching as, loose and random and flying in circles, one by one they disappear. “You’ll need to watch for it cutting you in half. Stay close to me.” Clearly half of Shaun’s body had gone the same way as the apples.
I take a step back. “Where does it go?” It’s a valid question but you have this look of disbelief on your face, like maybe I should know all this. Fuck. How could I have known anything? I thought you were having an affair or something, not doing some creepy Sci-Fi experiment in room 29.
“Thirty seventy-three.” Ideas race through my head. There is no room number 3073. Shit, it’s a small motel, no more than forty rooms at most.
Then I realise what you’re saying. You mean the year 3073, a millennia into the future. So I ask the only relevant question I can think of.
“Don’t you have apples in 3073?”
“Nope.” Okay, well, that’s a simple answer to my stupid question. “It’s my last day today. I’m going home. These apples will last us a good while yet. You coming?”
I look into your blue eyes, at your body, at you, and I think back on what I have. I don’t even own a cat, I just have a cancer that’s eating away at me and leaving me with little more than a year, if I’m lucky.
You take my hand, throw in the final case of apples, and then with a tentative smile you step forward and I feel the tug of your hand and the pull of the vortex.
Do I want to time travel with the hottest man I have ever seen, who happens to be gay, and apparently runs some kind of inter-year apple-smuggling ring? Maybe they have a cure there for my cancer?
I take that final step forward.
Do I want to go?