Fifty: Original Sin

hotel

Episode 4, Part 2

Lonsdale Quay Hotel
North Vancouver, B.C.

A bitter wind whistled through the doors like an angry specter as Jake and Arseman lugged their bags into the opulent lobby of the Lonsdale Quay.

“Um…Arseman, Dear?  Is this seriously where you booked us for a three week stay?  Exactly how much money do you think guys shove down my Speedos every night?”

“Relax, Jake.  Whatever your Speedos can’t cover is coming right oot of my corporate travel account.”

“And since you’re the CEO, CFO and co-owner of the business, that means it’s coming right oot of your pocket.  Don’t patronize me, Babe.”

Arseman smiled as she ceremoniously pulled a business Gold Card from her wallet and waved it dismissively in the air.  She checked in with the concierge and got keys for their adjoining rooms on the third floor overlooking Vancouver Harbour.

“Alright, let’s unpack so we can get down to business.”

“Down to business?”

“Hammered.”

“Fabulous! I had a suspicion you’d be a great travel companion, Arseman, and now that’s confirmed.  But give me a few extra minutes – I should probably call Matt and let him know we’re here before I’m too wasted to talk.”

“Yeah, I guess we need to keep our collective alcoholism to ourselves when it comes to Matt.”

“Hey, at least we’re cosmopolitan alcoholics.  There’s a certain dignity to that.  But yeah…even though it’s been a long time, Matt’s still a recovering alcoholic.”

“Are you planning to tell him what you’ve been up to for the last 20 years?”

“In due time.  Now let’s go unpack and get down to business!”

*************************

Vancouver, B.C.

A dusty beam of early morning sunlight fell upon Ashley’s face, rousing her from a restless sleep.  Dylan was snoring softly with his arm draped over her breasts, so she slid quietly oot of bed to avoid waking him.

She grabbed her bathrobe from the floor at the foot of the bed and wrapped it around her body before padding into the kitchen to brew a pot of coffee.  She settled down at the table and pulled oot her phone when Dylan trudged in yawning and rubbing his eyes.

“Hey, Baby.”

“good morning, dylan.”

“Early riser, huh?”

“not always…i woke up a few hours ago and couldn’t get back to sleep.”

“That’s good to hear.  If I end up having to take some 9 to 5 gig, it’s gonna be a pretty big shock to my system.”

“i’m surprised they were even willing to lease you this place withoot a job.”

“I had some money saved from Vegas, so I paid three months rent right off the bat.  They kinda look the other way aboot employment when you do shit like that.”

“what are you doing today?”

“I don’t know.  I was thinking it might be fun if you and I go visit the old café – a little nostalgia trip.  What do you think?”

“the avalon?  absolutely!  god, it’ll be so weird to see it again.”

“Great, then that’s the plan.  But uh…are you gonna try to talk to anyone in Toronto first?  A lawyer or something?”

“dylan, i already missed my court date.  what can a lawyer do now?”

“Talk some sense into you, maybe?”

“excuse me?”

“Ashley, this isn’t going away by itself.  Trust me.  It’s only a matter of time before someone here in Vancouver runs your info through a database and finds oot there’s an open warrant.”

“are you worried you’ll get in trouble?”

“It’s a DUI, Ashley.  I’m not harboring a most wanted felon.  The real question is why aren’t you worried aboot getting in trouble?”

“i don’t know.  maybe…i just don’t care what happens to me anymore.”

“Bullshit.  If that were true, you wouldn’t have flown halfway across the country to dodge your legal troubles.”

“i came here to be with you.”

“Okay.  I’m sorry.  We’ll figure this oot together.  Now what do you say we get dressed and go pay a visit to the old shithole?”

*************************

ARIA TV Studio
North Vancouver, B.C.

Matt sat in the lobby waiting for Craig to arrive, periodically wiping his sweaty hands on the underside of his slacks while tiny pebbles of condensed toxicity crawled their way through the throbbing blood vessels in his head.  Checking his watch, he got up and walked ootside.

The cold air evaporated Matt’s nervous perspiration as he glanced up and down the block for a clandestine spot.  He noticed a small alleyway between the studio and the hair salon next door, so he walked down it far enough to be invisible from the sidewalk and pulled a flask from the inside pocket of his blazer.  He twisted off the top and greedily gulped down the last of the vodka, then walked back to the lobby where Craig and another executive from W were already waiting.

“Morning, Matt!”

“Hey, Craig, good morning.”

“Sorry aboot the commute, Man. Our headquarters is all the way back in your neck of the woods, so we have to use this place for our Vancouver productions.”

“No problem at all.”

“It’s gonna be a long one today, so if you need to do anything before we hit the sound stage and get rolling, now’s the time.”

“Oh, okay.  Then I’ll just make a quick phone call and meet you…”

“…in Studio C, around that corner.”

Matt walked back ootside and pulled oot his phone.

“Hello, Jake?”

“Matt!  How’s it going, Buddy?”

“Great!  I was so surprised to get your message last night.  What the hell are you doing in Vancouver?”

“I’m here with Arseman.”

“Arseman?  Really?  Wow!  Okay, so what the hell are you and Arseman doing in Vancouver?”

“Taking a trip down Memory Lane, I suppose.  When will you be free to get together?”

“I’m pretty booked all week but Friday night’s looking good – does that work for you guys?”

“Perfect!  I’ll call you later in the week to work oot the details.  Can’t wait to see you, Big Guy!”

“Right back at ya, Jake.  Take care.”

The hair of the dog effects had taken sufficient hold, so Matt strode confidently back into the studio feeling more like a television celebrity than a relapsing realtor.

*************************

Whistler, B.C.

Courtney had been living alone in Billy’s enormous home just ootside Garibaldi Provincial Park for over two weeks.  While looking after Marvel was a pleasure, the isolation was beginning to wear on her.  For the past two decades, every day had started with communal prayers, daily mass and a group rosary recitation.  For the past two weeks, every day had started with a lonely mixture of anxiety and regret.

She wandered from room to room, Marvel tailing closely at her side, and quietly prayed for guidance.

“Dear Lord, please forgive me for failing in my vocation.  Please guide my hand to—”

Courtney abruptly ceased her whispered entreaties and hung her head in shame while Marvel licked at her ankle.

Feeling that she no longer had the luxury of beseeching divine intervention, she walked into her room and grabbed the scrap of paper upon which Matt had written his phone number from the night stand.  She pulled oot her phone and dialed.  It rang three times before going to voice mail.

“Hello, Matt?  It’s Courtney!  I was just hoping that we could…get together sometime soon?”

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