fuck up, Leonard.
She couldnât do it, but you know sheâd want you to.
Shut the fuck up, Leonard.
Didnât she used to say that a second of freedom is worth more than a lifetime of bondage?
Yeah, she did. Now change the fucking subject.
She wasnât strong enough, James. She couldnât do it over the long term.
Shut the fuck up, Leonard.
But you can, and she would want you to, and you should remember that.
Fuck you, Leonard.
I reach out, take the bottle, set it on the floor next to my chair.
I appreciate the sentiment, and Iâm not going to fucking talk about it anymore.
The food arrives. We eat in silence. The bacon is hot and crispy, the sausage thick and juicy, the pancakes with syrup sweet. I drink one two three cups of coffee. I look at my food or out the window, I do not look at Leonard or Snapper. The bottle is at my feet. The decision is mine.
I hear Leonard set down his fork and his knife, take a deep breath, let out a long sigh. He speaks.
I look up.
You promise me two things and I wonât bring that shit up again.
Promise me you didnât spend the money I gave you on drugs or liquor.
And promise me if you do decide to drink, youâll call me and talk to me before you do it.
I can promise you that.
Leonard turns to Snapper.
You heard him, right?
Yes, I did.
Leonard turns to me.
Youâre going to have to deal with Snap if you break the promises.
You laughed. Thatâs good. I came here to have some fucking fun, and I want you laughing, and I want you having fun. Itâll help.
I want you to stay in the hotel with us tonight. I got you a room right next to our rooms.
You didnât need to do that.
I know I didnât need to, but I wanted to, and I already did. And feel free totake whatever you want from the mini-bar. The chips are tasty and the cola is cold.
I laugh again. Leonard keeps talking and we eat. We finish eating and we stand and Leonard leaves a hundred-dollar bill on the table and we walk to a bank of elevators in the lobby. We step inside Leonard hands me a key. The doors close and we move up quickly and silently. The doors open and we step out the hall is quiet and the walls are perfectly painted the lights dim the carpet thick. We walk to the end of the hall there are three rooms in a line. Leonard speaks.
You want to go down to the pool?
Iâm going to take a nap.
Take a nap? Itâs not even ten oâclock.
Leonard looks at Snapper.
So what, let him sleep.
Leonard looks at me.
How long you want to sleep for?
An hour or so.
Weâll come get you in an hour. Weâll go down to the pool, do some swimming, maybe some Jacuzzi.
Leonard points to a door.
Thatâs your room. Iâm in the middle. Snapâs over there.
I walk to my door, open it.
See you in a while.
I step inside, close the door, walk down a short hall. I pass a large bathroom and I walk into a large open room. There are three large windows across one wall I can see the skyline I can see the lake it is still frozen. There is a large oak cabinet against another wall. I walk to it and I open it. There is a large television sitting on a shelf in the upper half, a mini-bar is built into the lower half. Sitting against the third wall is a giant bed. There are nightstands on both sides of the bed, there are phones on both of them. I walk to the bed and I pull the sheets down they are white andclean and soft, I kick off my boots and I sit down on the bed and I take off my socks. I climb under the covers, put my head on a pillow, close my eyes, clutch myself clutch myself.
The bed is soft and warm.
I think about Lilly.
Hate that I am here without her.
She would have loved this place.
She never knew anything like this.
The GirlWith the Persian Shawl