“What the hell?” Jenna spilled her wine and crawled to a sitting position as I slammed the door shut. “Don’t scare me like that.” I locked both the door and the top locks and peeked through the blinds. “What the fuck, dude? You look like you saw a ghost.”
“There’s…” I shoved the coffee table in front of the door and turned the light off. “There’s blood…everywhere!” I struggled to catch my breath. I’d only seen shit like this in the movies. But this was no movie. I couldn’t decide whether I needed to be the hero or the coward who waited for the cops. If I had a dad, maybe I’d know what to do. “I saw it for myself.”
“Did you take your medicine?”
“Look, we got to get out of here.”
“Oh, come on, dude. Slow down.” Jenna dried her hair, and pulled it back into a ponytail, and shoved her feet into a pair of jeans. “What’s going on?” When I got nervous, I tended to slur my words, but even I couldn’t understand my words. I’d been to speech class as a kid to fix it; apparently, it didn’t work. “Who? Who’s out there?” Jenna moved to the blinds, splicing them with her fingers. “Holy shit!” Jenna said. “The lobby window is covered in blood.”
“I saw some dude just blow the head off the clerk.” I swallowed several times, an enormous bubble formed in my throat; I doubled over, and cold coffee and warm stomach fluid hit the sink like a wet blanket slapping the floor. I wiped my mouth with my sleeve and splashed a handful of water on my face. I hadn’t been this scared since I got in a fuel truck rollover accident in the military. I have PTSD from the wreck. The fuel truck was totaled, and there was a fire. It was hell. And right now, my stomach tightened just like it did that night. I felt I was sure to die, and no one could save me. I said my prayers and hoped I’d go to heaven. I accepted Jesus. “That’s it.” I slapped my thighs. “We’re dead.”
“Stop talking like that. And get it together.”
I searched for a weapon. “The mirror.” I wrapped a cloth around my hand and punched it, just like you see in the movies, and I broke a piece of glass to a sharp blade. Long enough to pierce a lung. “We can’t stay here.”
“There has to be more than one of them, right?” Jenna asked. “I’m mean, no one robs a hotel without help, at least I wouldn’t.” Jenna paused. “Oh, come on, you know that was funny.”
“Not now, Jenna.” Jenna liked the manly side of me, and I could tell me taking charge was a huge turn-on, but I couldn’t hide the concern on my face.
“They’re probably long gone by now.” Jenna slapped her thighs and sat back on the bed.
I shook my head. “No. They wouldn’t leave witnesses.” I mean, that’s like an unwritten rule: leave no witnesses. It would be in the criminal code of conduct if such a thing existed. If not, maybe I should write one. What the fuck. The terror of the knock on the door shook me back to reality.
“I know you’re in there,” a man with a baritone voice said.
“Look, I didn’t see anything,” I said. “We don’t even have a phone to call the cops. Besides, I didn’t see your face.”
“Open the door before I blow it off the hinges.”
I couldn’t believe I’d put us in this situation. If I hadn’t have taken the detour, we’d be sipping wine with Jenna’s folks. Maybe Jenna’s father is right about me: I’m a stupid loser. I’m doing my best to prove him wrong, but then this happened.
“We don’t want any trouble,” Jenna said louder than I did. “We don’t have much money, so holding us hostage would be useless. And if you kill us, we can’t help you at all. I mean, that is what you need, right?”
“I need the two of you dead,” the robber said.
“How do you know there’s two of us?”
“I saw the check-in sheet, which is now covered with blood. And brain matter.” The callousness in his voice told me this wasn’t his first murder. And it wasn’t even about money. It was about the thrill of killing, which is the worst type of killer, at least that’s what my behavioral psychology professor said.
I heard the gun cock. “Open the fucking door.” I went to protect Jenna when a bullet from a shotgun ripped through my shoulder like a knife cutting warm butter. The robber and his female accomplice stormed through the door and ordered Jenna and me to sit on the bed. His redhead girlfriend bound our hands together with ducktape.
“Look, what do you want from us?” We told them we didn’t have money and that we wouldn’t tell the cops on them, so what more could they want? If they wanted to kill us, they would have already done so. “Are you going to kill us?”
“Kill you?” The redhead laughed.
The man pointed at the woman. “This is Jill.”
“Why are you telling us her name? The less we know, the better,” Jenna said.
“What do you think, Jill, should we kill them?” the man asked her as if she called the shots.
“We need some hostages until we get to the Canadian border,” Jill said. “But, I’m done killing people, Robert.”
Jill said his name: Robert. Robert isn’t a name for a hardened criminal in my book. It just isn’t. It’s like a football player named Small Pecker–it just doesn’t sound right. And I’m not the judgmental type, but I do make weird assumptions about everyone. I’d like to think I’m a good judge of character. I mean, heck, that’s why I’m with Jenna.
“Good idea,” Robert told Jill. “We can start over fresh in Canada or hell go to Alaska. The cops would never find us in Alaska. I watched those shows on the ID channel that said people go to Alaska to disappear.”
Sirens approached the hotel. I thought this would be over soon. “You guys better get going,” I said.
“We’re going out the back window.”
Jenna and I didn’t move.
“Now. I said get the fuck up and go,” Robert said.
I could only imagine what lied ahead.