The cop says, Ninety Four. Where RU going in such a hurry, son?
Michael freezes but Maria rescues him. She says to the cop, I really gotta pee. I almost wet myself. See…i have this bladder condition and…she breaks off and shrugs. He was just driving really fast to try to find a bathroom. I didnt mean to get him in trouble.
The cop looks at Michael’s license and registration. He writes out a ticket and hands it to Michael with his license and Maria’s registration.
There’s a drive-through about three miles up, the cop says. Nice clean restrooms. And watch your speed.
You owe me big, Maria says after the cop is gone and they are back on the road.
And you’ll never let me forget it, Michael mutters.
You’re welcome, Maria says.
KYLE AT HOME
Great, Kyle says into the phone. Thank you Mrs. DeLuca. I’ll try her at Liz’s then.
Kyle puts the phone down with great force and releases a series of obscene expletives and rubs his temples. Valenti has come in the house silently and has been watching this. He whistles. Kyle looks around.
Hey, Kyle says to his dad. When did you get home?
IDK. A couple of calls ago. The Evanses, the Parkers, then the Delucas. Is this about Liz again?
Valenti laughs. Anything you want to talk about?
Max Evans, Kyle sighs. Again.
What about him?
Well, he mustve done something to get you so riled up.
It’s the way Liz acts when she’s around him. There’s always something going on. Like today at the crashdown. Max and Isabel leave in some big hurry and Liz goes with ’em. Like, right in the middle of our conversation they just drive off. They’re not home, they lied to their parents. It’s just so weird, you know?
Valenti’s looks worried. He says, too casually, Any idea where they went?
Yeah, well, i’m sure they’ll turn up, Valenti says as he heads for the dor.
I thought U just got home.
I forgot something at the office, Valenti says, lying badly.
Dad, what do you know about Max Evans?
Kyle, stay out of this.
What do U know, Dad?
I’ll talk to U later.
MAX AND IZZIE AND LIZ
Full dark at a convenience store where Izzie has stopped. The iron sky spits rain and malaise with sadistic intermittence. Liz has gotten two coffees out of a machine as a peace offering to Izzie while Max uses the bathroom. Izzie slams the jeep door and as she turns around runs smack into Liz and coffee flies onto them both.
Sorry, Liz says.
Wonderful, Izzie says, fuming.
I was just trying to be nice…
Liz nods helplessly and tosses the empties. Both of their tops are soaked with coffee. Izzie passes her hand over the coffee stain on hers and it disappears but makes no effort to help Liz.
No wonder you always look so perfect, Liz says to Izzie.
U think so? Izzie says guardedly.
Oh, please, Isabel. You know you’re the only one in that whole school who really looks and acts like a supermodel.
I guess that answers question number 12, then. Who do you envy.
What about you, Isabel? Liz says cautiously. Who do you envy?
Izzie thinks about that for a moment before answering. Then she says, No one.
Liz says, I’m not trying to take Max away from you. I could never even do that.
I know, Izzie says diffidently.
But what if you guys found something in Marathon? Would you take him from me?
Izzie passes her hand over Liz’s top and the coffee disappears.
Thank you, Liz says meekly.
When Max emerges from the store the man in the JC Penney suit is out of his parked nondescript sedan but still wearing his sunglasses as he pretends to be talking on the last surviving pay telephone in the world that is beside the front door as he watches Liz and Izzie and waits for Max to come out. A skinhead is cursing him and demanding the phone. The man hangs up and looks at Max. Max walks by and smiles and says, Love your Ray-Bans, man.
The man stares at Max as he walks around the sedan. Max brushes his hand against the tires and they go completely flat. It’s obvious that they are all really being followed and Max does not want this schmuck behind him and Michael. And so one agent’s night of surveillance work is over with four flat tires with holes to contend with.
MICHAEL AND MARIA
Traffic on the road in the dark. Trucks passing them in the rain and trucks passing bigger trucks. Even a Mercedes passes them, spraying them deep in dirty water. Maria’s car starts to hydroplane but Michael is able to get it back under control. Wiper blades farting and squeaking and squealing in the rain and even Michael is nearly hysterical.
That’s when the car begins to die on him and he curses and starts getting off the road.
Did U pull on the chokey-thing? Maria says.
Yes, i did pull on the chokey-thing, he says.
The dying engine knocks and surges and stops and steam from the radiator rushes into the car and Michael lets it glide to rest. They stop on the edge of a parking lot of an ancient, sleazy motel on a stretch of highway that is replete with the aggravations of road construction.
Maria coughs and fans herself and says, Do something. Go!
Dont tempt me, he mutters.
Come on, she says. Wiggle your nose, blink your eyes, do the Samantha-Jeannie alien thing. Come on.
I cant, he says.
Why not? Come on! If there was ever a time to use your secret powers this is it.
They’re not secret powers, Maria.
I dont care what you call them! Just use ’em and get us out of here.
I’m not that good at it, okay?
Figures, Maria says, throwing up her hands in perfect imitation of her mother at her worst.
Your car sucks, Michael says, getting out.
And so do you, Maria says.
Outside lurks the stink that hangs around road construction. Exudations of disturbed earth and asphalt and feces. The road here runs thru a dense patch of forest and the felling of trees has added sawdust and pine straw to this olfactory medley. And there is the intermediacy of the rain that distributes and enhances it.
Michael fumbles with the hood catch and unleashes a torrent of curses before he gets the hood raised.
You cant even open the hood, Maria says in a luxurious tone of well bred contempt.
Michael tries passing his hand over the engine but it only catches fire. It’s all he can do to put it out. Maria hoots derisively. Michael walks back to the car and says, Now that i’m humiliated and the battery’s fried I’m gonna take the backseat.
Michael climbs in back and slams the car door and starts to stretch out in there but the car is small and Michael is over six feet tall.
Wait a minute, Maria says from the front. You kidnap me and blow up my car and you expect me to spend the night in here with you?
Not exactly my fantasy evening either either, Michael says. Ah, fuck it.
He gets out of the car.
Where RU going? Maria says anxiously.
See that motel over there?
The motel sign proclaim’s The Sultan’s Hideaway Motel. Somebody’s blue collar idea of a fantasy of an oil rich Arab. Like everything else in this part of the world, it has a theme. But at least it’s not about aliens.
I’m getting a room, Michael says. And some sleep.
No, Michael. Wait!
The motel room door has a plaque in the shape of an Aladdin’s lamp. But nothing can conceal the sleazy, cheesy, musty, fusty ambience of a sad, worn out old motel.
Michael opens the door and turns on the lights. He stops in the middle of the room and looks around.
The centerpiece of the room is a circular, canopied waterbed beneath an ancient ceiling fan. A painting of a skyline that could be a set from The Theif of Baghdad, spires and minarets and a muezzin calling the faithful to their prayers.
The room is surrounded by cleverly draped crimson sheets to suggest you’re in an Arab tent in the middle of the Sahara. On a vanity beside the sink is a condom machine with bold, brilliant advertising. But the room itself is rank with mold and mildew and the smell of old, dry semen.
It’s a fuckhouse, Michael says.
It’s a trailer park grade fuckhouse, Maria says. Or the porno version of Aladdin.
At least it’s warm, Michael says wearily, throwing himself onto the bed.
I dont even want to think about what i could catch in here, Maria says.
You know, if you werent such a princess about things…
Princess? She says. No, no. I think i’ve been a pretty good sport up until now but i’m cold and i’m hungry and i am stuck in some nooky motel with a guy i barely know and i…i just want to go home.
Michael stands up and says, Why dont you stay here? I saw some vending machines outside. I’ll go see what they have. Lock the door.