There is no real rainy season in Roswell but it does sometimes rain, as it has this afternoon and it is a blessing. When it’s hot like it was today it gives me chills but now it has cooled and it’s warmed me up. The red clay soil no longer hangs musty and airless over the dessicated ground and chokes me. Driving over the wet asphalt one could imagine oneself in a real city, with enough imagination. Or just somewhere else, anywhere else.
It’s dark now and i have just pulled in front of the Crashdown to let Liz beg off working tonight. And to see Michael.
Five minutes, i say to Liz curtly and she nods and leaves. Michael sees me and lopes across the street from where he’s been loitering. I get out of the jeep and stand in front of him and say, Something’s up.
He says, They’re taking things out of the sheriff’s office.
Some guy in a suit, Michael says heatedly. So we gotta get in there.
I hesitate. He says, It’s now or never, Max.
Michael, it’s important to me too.
Bullshit, he says warmly. All you want to do is protect what’s yours in Roswell.
That’s right. I do.
Well, did you ever give any thought to what it’s like for me here, Max ?
Of course i did, i say diffidently as i glance over and see Liz come out of the Crashdown and hang back just out of earshot.
When i look back at Michael i see the mute accusation in his eyes and know that whatever evil he thinks of me is probably true. I force myself to speak.
Look, i say. The woman who pulled your records is on her way to your place .
Dont yell. Just stay away from there tonight. Isabel’s waiting for you at our house. Go there and wait.
Wait for her to come find me?
Just wait with Izzie. Dont go off half cocked and do something stupid.
He hurls another wounded look at me and runs across the street and disappears.
Let’s go, i say to Liz.
As i drive off to Michael’s trailer i dont know that Liz’s dumbass bf has seen her in the jeep with me and decides to tail us. I should notice his car behind us and lose him but i just dont see him. I pull into the trailer park and kill the lights when i can see Michael’s trailer. Then i pull off the street and turn off the engine.
So how did you end up where you ended up and how did Michael end up here?
Another long story, i say, irritated with her.
Is his father always…
Is he always such an asshole? Yes.
I hear the sigh of another car pulling up in front of the trailer and would have seen it sooner if Liz hadnt been running her mouth. It’s none other than Topolsky herself. Liz leans closer to me to see better and it probably looks to Kyle like we’re about to have a makeout session. But what happens next is funnier. Liz drops her ring and bends down to look for it and it must look to Kyle like she’s about to give me head and it’s too much for that poor boy and he gets out of the car and starts walking toward us.
I only put all this together later because right now i am i’m intently watching Topolsky strut toward the trailer and knock on the door and see Hank open it.
When she sees Hank in his underwear she says, I’m sorry to bother you. I’m looking for Michael…
And at that moment Kyle startles us. He walks up to my side of the jeep and looks across at Liz and says, Liz!
Kyle! She says and as she does so her face is a mask of ambivalence and guilt and resentment. Her face is much too expressive for her to ever be a good liar, so i’ll have to remember never to put her in a position to have to lie for me. That will be problematic because i’ll have to keep things from her and she’ll decide i’m a liar and a dissembler and all that shit.
Hey, Max, he says.
Hey there Holmes, i say and grin at him.
What’s going on? Kyle says intently.
Nothing, Liz whispers.
Why RU whispering? He says.
We’re just waiting for Michael, she whispers. We’re gonna go um…
Bowling, i say desperately.
Yeah but why RU whispering? He demands.
We’re going bowling, she insists stubbornly.
Liz, what were you doing down there on the floor?
I dropped my ring, she whispers.
But why RU whispering?
Meanwhile Topolsky is telling Hank, I’m going to give you my number.
Uh-huh, Hanks says sleepily.
And could you have Michael call me? She says sweetly.
Bowling? Kyle says.
Yes, i say. Seemed better than going to putt-putt. My putter’s all worn out.
He is about to reply when i see Topolsky about to glance this way. I grab Kyle and hiss at him, Get down! And i pull his head down.
What RU doing, Max? Kyle says.
Topolsky hears him, goddamn his his sorry ass to hell. She stops in her tracks and scans just like they probably teach them at Quantico or whatever factory she staggered out of. I am hoping she wont see us. But she sees us alright. Then she gets in the car and leaves.
Back in front of the Crashdown i am strolling with Liz, in a much lighter mood. It’s late enough that the traffic has thinned and given the quiet streets an enchanted quality. I say, When this is over…you and i could do lunch or something.
Luncheon. Indeed. Yeah, if you like.
So, like in the caf?
Sure, i say.
Okay. Great, she says. It’s a date…no! It’s not a date. It’s …a lunch.
I groan, Liz, a date by any other name…
As i’m speaking i see from the reflection in a flat of water on the street that Izzie has transpired behind us and looks very upset.
I better get home, Liz says.
You better, i say. It’s late and there are scary boogers all over the place. Like that one behind us! I say dramatically and she turns and sees Izzie and we both laugh.
I gotta go talk to Sis, i say. As i move past Liz i make my hand touch hers and linger for a few seconds and in so doing the touch feels more intimate than a thousand kisses.
Dushka, i whisper to Liz.
Izzie is steaming when i reach her.
Michael’s gone AWOL, she says.
Izzie gets in the jeep and i drive.
You know Michael cant control his power, she says.
I know it.
As i am crawling in first gear past the alley that runs behind the Sheriff’s building i see that the window to Valenti’s office is open and i know that Michael must be inside. And it’s then, of all times that Valenti decides to come into his office late.
Oh, no, i say. Michael’s in trouble. We gotta help him or we’re all fucked.
Okay, she says. Get Michael out of there and i’ll keep Valenti away from his office for as long as i can.
Right, i say laconically, wondering WTF i’m gonna do.
Michael doesnt have the genes to be a second story man and i’m no better but i manage to crawl up the side of the building to the open second floor window of Valenti’s office. I heave myself over the sill and say. Let’s go Michael! Valenti’s here. Let’s go. Let’s go !
It’s close. It’s very, very close. We’re just climbing over the sill when Valenti’s footsteps are just outside his office door. As we both hang onto the ledge i close the window and the burglar bars and touch the lock and vector a pulse of kinetic energy thru it to lock it from the outside. I nod at Michael and we jump in blind faith into the open dumpster below and hope we land on something soft.
We do. It’s soft. But it stinks, whatever it is. I do not want to know. And we are out of sight when Valenti looks out his window.
Told you this was no big deal, Michael says.
You evil son of a bitch, i say.
When we are outside Michael’s trailer i stop and kill the engine. Alright Michael, i say. What did you find?
He holds up a key, that’s all. Just a fuckin key that could be to anything, anywhere.
I found it in Valenti’s thermos bottle, Michael says.
That’s all? I say. All that for a fuckin key?
Hey! They’d taken all the files. Everything. But when i touched that key i had a vision.
A vision, huh? I say, ready to kill him.
It was something weird, he says. I couldnt make out what it was. But i saw something important.
Gimme! I say, yanking the key from his hand. I concentrate hard but get nothing.
Nothing, i say, handing the key to Izzie. Here, Isabel. See if you…
She shivers and writhes and shakes her head.
Whadja see? I demand.
Oooh, she says. A naked man in a shower.
Michael yanks the key away from her and gets out and stalks off. I get out and follow him.
Hey! Stop! I say.
He turns toward me and looks down.
Sorry about before, i say to him. Maybe i really dont know what it’s like for you.
He nods slowly and says, The thing is i’ve realized that the fact my life sucks is a good thing. It’s easier. We always will have to be able to leave. Pack a suitcase, go somewhere else. Maybe 10 years from now, maybe a week from now, maybe…tomorrow. So my advice is dont get in too deep, Maximus. It only makes us weaker.