Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Hiding the Moon--Part 5
Good day to blog just a little bit of SunFish (as a reader is calling it!)
Hiding the Moon--Part 5
"It's not as good as yours," Burton blurted after his first cruller.
Ernie looked up from his cream filled and grinned. "I'm good at the bakery," he admitted proudly, and then his shoulders slumped, and he looked tired and dispirited. "Good to be good at something."
Don't ask don't ask don't ask "Your high school grades were so good," Burton said, because this had been bothering him. "And the first two years of college. What happened?"
Ernie frowned at him. "That's all my file says? My grades were good and then they slipped?"
"Says your folks died in a car wreck," Burton told him cautiously, and was unprepared for Ernie to stand up, face crumpling as he fought tears.
"That's what it says?" he demanded. "A car wreck? Jesus--that's all you know about me? There's so much truth missing, it's like you only know me as the lie." He turned toward the exit, entire posture screaming about storming out into the strange city of Cletus, and Burton couldn't let him.
He stood and put a quiet hand on his elbow. "Ernie," he said softly, "I didn't pull the trigger. I wanted more info. If my intel isn't good, you're the only source I've got for better."
Ernie slumped against the glass door of the donut shop. "Get a box," he said, voice breaking. "And some iced coffee. I'll stay here. I promise. I need to go to bed anyway."
Five minutes later they were headed for the Holiday Inn.
"Not the Motel 6?" Ernie asked, only a little curious.
"All fleeing hit men stop at the Motel 6," Burton answered semi-factiously. "It's just too damned obvious." The truth was, he wanted something... better, for Ernie. The slump of his shoulders, the obvious pain of speaking of his family--Burton had disrupted the life, the peace he'd forged for himself already. He was going to have to do it some more. If there'd been a 5* place, Burton would have taken his disposable credit cards and gotten a room there, but the Holiday in would have to do.
Ernie's smile lightened up a fraction. "You're being kind. Thank you."
"So what happened to your folks?" Burton asked softly.
"I'll never have any proof," Ernie answered back, just as softly. "But I think they were forced off the road."
"Same military motherfuckers who pulled me out of bed that night." Ernie sighed--and yawned. "No offense, Cruller--"
"I might not remember that. But I need to sleep soon. I..." He let out an unhappy breath. "I know you probably think I'm just all moonbeams and sunshine and shit. But one of the reason 'my grades fell', as you so nicely put it is that it's hard. IT's hard for me to... to focus... when the world comes at me like it does. Knowing who's good and who's bad, if there's donuts around the corner, of someone's going to want me and listen to no, and trying to figure out how to say no if they won't--it's hard. I get lost. I forget what street I'm on or what day it is. So I need to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time and do the same things every day. And there's none of that now. So I need my sleep." And again, he was perilously close to tears. "You understand?" he begged. "I need my sleep when i need it."
"Understood," Burton told him. "If you can hang on while I"m checking in, I can bend to your schedule a bit. Do we have a deal?"
"Yeah," Ernie said, sighing into his chest. "Thanks."
He didn't say much more as they got to the hotel, but even when Burton went inside and made the hotel arrangements--under the name of Smythe.
He parked the car and proceeded to lead Ernie up to their room, his sniper rifle over one shoulder, his packed duffle of clean clothes over the other. When he got to the room he put both bags under the desk.
Then he watched in bemusement as Ernie stripped down to nakedness, dropping his clothes on the floor, before sliding under the covers and falling fast asleep.
Well, damn. Burton wouldn't mind some shuteye himself, but not now.
Something about the way Ernie's face relaxed told him that Ernie was going to sleep for the full seven hours here just like he did at home.
Well, just as well.
Burton was going to have to place a whole lot of booby traps before he got so much as a cat nap.