Back at Tommy's Tool Town, Reeve Stockwell and Miles Longworth were forced into an agonizing decision. When their work was finally done, they dragged themselves back to the receiving bay door and stood panting like two out-of-shape eight year olds who'd just finished the President's Physical Fitness Test.
"I have got to lay off the junk," Stockwell moaned, in between labored breaths.
"You ain't kidding," Miles Longworth said, with a slight wheeze. "If I don't give up cigars, I won't have to worry about retirement. I won't live that long."
Something crashed inside the Tommy compound and both men froze. Longworth flipped his flashlight back on and swept it across the parking lot. Agent's SUV was barely visible.
"That looks like a thug-mobile," Longworth whispered.
"Sure does," Stockwell said.
"They're inside. What should we do?" Longworth asked.
"I vote we pretend it was thunder," Stockwell suggested.
"Chicken," Miles Longworth chastised, although his voice quaked a bit.
"Let's go in. We're here. We might as well see what's going on," Stockwell said, hating his words the moment he'd spoken them.
"All right, James Bond," Miles Longworth said with a wink Stockwell didn't see.
Stockwell eased the door open, and it moved without a sound. He crept through the opening, and Longworth followed. Agent Gonzales and Sonny Brooks, both in black hoodies, crept around the receiving bay. They were merely shadows, only somewhat darker than the thick, black darkness.
"Shit," Stockwell whispered.
"Here we go," Longworth said, his voice barely audible.
Reeve Stockwell shivered in the dark and the shovel he'd been holding hit the ground with a thunk.
Sonny Brooks stopped dead in his tracks. "I told you!" he exclaimed to Agent, who was pale as a sheet. She held her video camera in her trembling hands. She'd been shooting video, but had thus far come up empty.
"Over by the door," Sonny said, grabbing Agent's hands and pointing the video camera toward the source of the noise. "Shoot them!" Sonny Brooks yelled, and Reeve Stockwell screamed and scrambled to the door. Miles Longworth was so close behind, both men emerged from the pitch black bay area and fell to the ground in a heap.
"Get off me!" Stockwell exclaimed, sounding terrified. Longworth got to his feet, and both men hauled serious ass to safety.
"Did you hear it?" Sonny Brooks yelled. "Did you hear them damn ghosts screaming? Are they normally scared?"
The door had already slammed behind Stockwell and Longworth, or they might have recognized the voice of Tommy's Loss Prevention Specialist. They didn't. They were halfway across the parking lot before Agent could respond.
"I don't know what ghosts normally do!!" Agent shrieked. "This is my first ghost!" Agent Gonzales set her video camera on Sonny's desk, and proceeded to toss her cookies into his garbage can.
Her ghost hunting days had come to an end.
Unbeknownst to Longworth and Stockwell, and Sonny and Agent, a quiet figure in a hood stood in the shadows as still as a cadaver. He wasn't a ghost, but he may as well have been. Where his heart should have been was an empty hole, and he was a soulless as a man can be. He was a man without character, without dignity or integrity, a man without a conscience.
He was a man with a mission, a really bad mission.
The idiots at Tommy's were getting in his way. Every last one of them would have to be dealt with, and soon, and in a way that assured they'd never cause him another problem.
Next time he'd crack open a box, give those guns a whirl, and see if his aim was as good as it used to be.
Seventy miles away, Mick Daniels and Larry Dale stood in the doorway of room six at Three Fellows Inn.
"Good grief," Larry Dale exclaimed. Even in the dark it was obvious the room was a disappointment.
To say the least.
The carpet seemed to crunch beneath his feet, and he was satisfied with not knowing why.
"I say we sleep in the car," Mick Daniels said from his post in the doorway. "Or we can just drive until we find something else, or I fall asleep behind the wheel and kill both of us."
"You know what, let's soldier it out. I'm sure there are worse things. Imagine if we were soldiers in combat, sleeping in muddy trenches. That would be worse than this," Larry said, reaching for the lamp. He turned the switch and the lamp flickered and lit. The shade was broken, and sat atop a ceramic glob of a thing depicting two bulls doing God knew what. "Now that's swell," Larry said, admiring the pathetic masterpiece.
"Bed isn't bad," Larry Dale said, sitting on the single full-size mattress and the flowered comforter that adorned it.
"Bed?" Daniels said from the doorway. He'd turned toward his car, and attempted to get cell service. "Bed singular?"
"That's right, boss. One bed. You want to side near the door?" Larry Dale asked with a wink, which nearly sent Daniels over the edge.
"Are you freaking kidding me? I am not sleeping in the same bed with you. I'll sleep in the car." Daniels turned back toward the door and a coyote shrieked in the night. Daniels stopped dead in his tracks. "Okay. I will sleep on top of the comforter, and I am wearing my suit. If you snore, I will kill you. If you fart and fluff the covers, I will kill you. If you touch me, I will kill you," Daniels said, and Larry Dale laughed good-heartledly.
"This is gonna be fun, boss," Larry Dale said, and Daniels threw his brief case at him. "Jeez. Watch it. You almost hit the lamp."
"That would be tragic," Daniels said, although he finally chuckled. "This is God awful. Let's get some camera shots of the room. I may need them if I fire the person who booked it, and he or she goes to the Labor Board."
Larry Dale headed toward the bathroom while Daniels snapped numerous photos of the disaster. Dale was back in less than a minute. "I'm gonna tinkle outside," Larry Dale said.
"There's a bathroom, isn't there?" Mick Daniels asked.
"There is. If you wanna take a gander at it, I'll save you a spot by the tree over yonder," Larry Dale said from the doorway.
"I am gonna take a gander at it, and then a few pictures," Mick said. Daniels headed toward the bathroom, opened the door and slammed it.
"Told ya!" Larry Dale yelled from about twenty feet away.
"What the hell is in the tub?" Daniels hollered.
"I think it used to be a rat. Probably about a month or so ago," Larry Dale said, appearing in the doorway while zipping his fly.
"I think we might really be murdered in our sleep," Daniels said. "I say we set the alarm for every hour on the hour just to make sure we're both still alive."
"I think that sounds like a plan, boss," Larry Dale said.
Larry Dale kicked off his shoes and took the side of the bed near the lamp, leaving Daniels with the side closest to the door. "They'll get me first," Daniels whined.
"You wanna switch?" Dale asked, and Daniels shook his head.
"Let's just shut the light off and if you're a praying man, Leisure Suit Larry, now might not be a bad time to check in with the man," Daniels said.
Dale shut the light off and both men lay in the dark, silently, for several minutes. Finally, Larry Dale spoke.
Larry Dale chuckled breathlessly. "Marco."
"Shut the hell up!"
Several minutes passed.
"One more time, Dale, and there's only gonna be one guy alive when that alarm goes off."
Dale held out as long as he could. "Marco."
Thankfully, Mick Daniels had nodded off. Larry Dale lay chuckling for several minutes, until he, too, succumbed to the exhaustion of the day.
Both men survived the night.