Monday, July 1, 2013

ace of night, part 5: carla

by horace p sternwall

illustrated by roy dismas

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





carla stood under the awning in front of the hotel belmore and watched the cab disappear down the dark street.

she shook the rain off her coat and her beret as best she could and went inside.

the girl at the front desk was reading a romance comic and blowing bubblegum and hardly glanced at her when she crossed the lobby and headed for the elevator.

the lobby was empty. the belmore was a women only hotel - no men past the front door - and unlike some other similar establishments that carla had stayed in, it was very quiet, the way she liked it, with no nosy chattering females filling the hallways and lobby.

the elevator was empty too, and she did not see anybody in the corridors leading to her room. was she the only person in the place?

she heard voices - not too loud - in one of the rooms. she felt reassured for some reason.

when she got to her room she took her time getting her wet clothes off, drying herself off, and putting a bathrobe on. there was a small lamp on the table beside the bed and she turned it on, leaving the overhead light off.

she had plenty of time - almost four hours before she had to go out again. she would allow herself one cigarette and then have a nap. she had a perfect internal clock and could always wake up when she wanted.



she did not have to look outside to see if it was still raining. she could hear it, and the wind, louder than ever. she hoped it would stop or at least let up before she went out again, but what could you do? she never worried about things she could not control.

as she blew smoke rings toward the ceiling she thought about the guy in the cab, jeff. what a jerk! but maybe she should have been nicer to him, strung him along a little, set him up to maybe use him down the line. she might need some help, someone to watch her back. even an oaf like that.

but she had been feeling lousy, in no mood to turn on the charm, and he had caught her off guard. thinking about it, she realized he had reminded her of larry, even though he didn't look anything like him, with that same smirky bulldog way.

did bulldogs smirk? whatever. maybe he would pop up again. like he had been so happy to point out, he was just across the street. maybe she would sound him out, see if she could use him. but she didn't want him around tonight, that was for sure.

a sudden thought popped into her mind. what if he hung around outside tonight, saw her go out again? then she laughed at herself. at three in the morning? and maybe in this rain? he would have to be the most puppy dog guy in the world to do something like that, and that wasn't this guy, whatever else he was.



no, that was the least of her worries.

she put the cigarette out in the ashtray beside the lamp, and turned the lamp off. it was nap time. carla could often - not always, but often - dream what she wanted to dream about. tonight especially she wanted to dream about being back on the beach in portugal or morocco with larry, only this time she would get the better of him, instead of the other way around.

but as she started to fall asleep she saw the guy in the cab instead, that she was so sure she could handle.

and then she remembered how crazy larry had been, and how jealous, and how sure she had been that she had him all set up for the double cross -

but he had double crossed her instead -

he had got her good.


to be continued