In her hotel shower, he washed layers of accumulated dirt off his body, and tried to make sense of the day's events.
Hours ago, this stranger -- now waiting naked for him in the next room -- had roused him from his midday nap in the park near the Senate office buildings. He gazed up at her nymph-like face and asked her for spare change, expecting $1 at the most. She handed him five $100 bills, and promised more if he'd "perform a service" for her. Her shimmering blue eyes reminded him of the reflection of the moon on the open ocean, and he fantasized about burying his face in her long red hair.
He left his shopping cart in the park, unsure that he'd ever see those belongings again, and followed her to the McDonalds in Union Station, where they ordered two large drinks and sat at a table. She spoke slowly, with a thick southern accent. "I want you to kill my husband."
He wasn't necessarily willing to kill anyone, but he still wanted details. "Why do you want him dead?"
"Prison's too good for him, and my family's already suffered enough."
"What did he do?"
"Molested my son -- his step son." Her words summoned memories of the cold, damp parking garage a dirty old man had forced him into when he was ten.
Dale's voice cracked, and he felt weak. "Why me?"
"They'll never connect us," she said, sucking on her straw. "No one will know we spoke today."
He watched a bald man cram a hamburger into his mouth. Sauce dripped down the man's chin on his white dress shirt. The beeping sounds from the deep fryers and the smell of burnt coffee permeated the dining area.
"How much would you pay?"
"Two hundred grand and..."
Dale slurped his drink and studied her long sexy legs. "And what?"
She leaned over, permitting him to notice that she wasn't wearing a bra.
He thought he knew what she was getting at, but it made no sense. "You're offering to have sex with me?"
He felt embarrassed about the dirt beneath his fingernails as she took his hand and pressed it against her chest. "Feel my body. It's perfect. Don't tell me you don't want it."
He savored this memory as he turned off the shower and covered himself in a bathrobe. Now he was clean. He wasn't going to kill for her, but he would certainly be willing to "service" her in other ways.
"You clean up well." Her voice sounded like his mother's now -- a little too much, in fact. Her body writhed beneath the sheet, his for the taking. Instead, he sat on a chair wanting to clarify a few details.
"Where am I supposed to meet your husband?"
"We'll cover all the details later. Don't you want to have a little fun, first?"
Her response struck him as ridiculous. "I don't think I can perform right now," he said.
She bucked her hips up and down a few times. "Don't you like me?"
She grabbed his hand, and he shook loose. "No. You look fine, unbelievably fine. That's the problem. I'm not sure that you're real. I can't think of a single reason why you'd like me. Why would a gorgeous woman with a model's body feel the slightest attraction to a dirty, smelly, jaundiced, toothless bum?"
"Show a little confidence, Dale. I can look past all of that. Come to bed."
He tightened the belt on his bathrobe. "No. We're not gonna do any of that today."
He noticed something green near the floor, extending from beneath the sheets.
"I've got to go now."
He didn't believe his eyes at first: a tentacle covered with hundreds of tiny piranha-like mouths. The sheet flew off and the tentacle slapped his chest with the force of a train. He heard the crack of ribs before the tiny mouths went to work.
His attacker removed its mask, revealing a flat sheet of green mucus. Dale's last thought was that maybe this green thing served as some kind of eye.