They had rented a car just outside of Phoenix. Only 400 miles to go. It was already noon and temperatures were at their highest. Charles had taken his shirt off. He liked driving around like that in a convertible. If the car had the top down; he felt obligated to do the same. The sun shone brightly above them and left its mark on Charles’ skin. Almost as red as their red GTO convertible.
Kyle Thomson was on his way to a meeting down in Albuquerque. Some interview his agent had set up for him. He didn’t want to go, so his agent sent his best friend Charles with him. Thompson hated the public spotlight. He had made a name for himself in the literary world when his first novel ‘Living with a Serial Killer’ came out. A story about a woman finding out her husband is a notorious serial killer. It was an instant hit and made the New York Times Bestsellers list in no time, making him famous overnight. Before John Collins, his agent, started publishing his stories, Thompson was a nobody. A drunk and a playboy. But the man could write. They called him the next Stephen King. He had a thing for suspense, and he was good at what he did. After his success, more novels followed, like Woodland Prey, Blood Trail and The Wrong Family.
But Thompson never liked going out after he got famous. He despised his fame. He didn’t like it when people recognised him on the street, always asking him for an autograph. The only time he abused his fame was when it got him laid. After a few drinks with a woman, preferably an easy one, he would tell the whole world he was Kyle fucking Thompson.
While Charles was driving, slowly burning his pale white skin to a crisp, Thompson stared at his typewriter. His feet were dangling over the passenger door, blocking the side mirror. The wind blowing through his long, black hair. His typewriter was neatly placed on his lap. A blank page trembled in the dusty wind of Arizona. A blank page and nothing to drink, his worst nightmare.
“Turn back!”, he yelled, almost causing Charles to crash into the side of the road, “I just saw a bar back there.”
“C’mon Kyle, I promised John no stops;”
“He’s not here now, is he? Turn this fucking car around man. I need my muse.”
Charles swirled his hand over the wheel and Thompson almost lost his typewriter. He didn’t care he turned so roughly, he wanted his drink.
Luckily his agent knew this would happen. It wasn’t the first time Thompson did something like that, so he sent them on their way a day early.
There was a bar and a motel on the side of the road. A few cars were parked in front. Not many people were day drinkers like Thompson. He felt he could only write well when alcohol flowed through his veins. Only then he could pour his heart out on paper, bleed letters which turned black after they left his soul.
They took a seat at a booth in the far end, hoping no one would recognise them. The waitress was a twenty-three-year-old with short blond hair. She didn’t even look at the two of them. Her eyes focused on the notebook she held in her left hand, ready to take their order.
“I’ll have a cheeseburger and a beer,” said Thompson, “Wait, make that two beers and a cheeseburger.”
“Just a burger and fries for me,” Charles added.
Without saying anything, she turned around and gave the order to the chef. The chef was a rather large man, smoking a cigarette above the stove. Charles wouldn’t be surprised if they found some ashes between their fries. Best not to think about it; they were in the outskirts of Arizona after all. Anything could happen there.
“No more stops after this,” Charles begged him.
“I promise, so let’s make this our only stop. There’s a motel next door, let’s stay the night.”
Charles knew there was nothing he could do to change his mind. Whenever Thompson had his first drops of alcohol, there was no stopping him. He didn’t feel like chauffeuring a drunk all the way to Phoenix. He made some calculations in his head and agreed. There was still plenty of time to make it to the interview. Even enough time for him to sober up. Charles knew his agent had sent them early. Only Thompson himself wasn’t aware he was being played as a fool.
The waitress came back with their order and she finally laid eyes on them. She blinked a few times when she saw Thompson sitting in her booth. Her hand started to tremble and Charles had to grab the plate out of her hands before it fell to the ground.
“You’re…you’re Kyle Thompson, ain’t ya?”
For a moment Thompson started having second thoughts about staying in this place. He didn’t like being recognised. Soon she would call all her friends, tell them the great fucking Kyle Thompson was in her diner.
He realised she wasn’t turning back. She just stood there, watching him. She even stopped chewing her gum. Charles started digging in his burger, not paying attention to her. He was starving and he knew her attention wasn’t focussed on him. It happened every time he went out with Thompson. All eyes went to him and he vanished into thin air.
Thompson drank his first beer in one go.
“Do you mind?” he asked, pointing at his cheeseburger. “And bring me another beer will you.”
The waitress apologised a few times and went to get him another beer.
“Every fucking time,” he said to Charles, “a man can’t even eat in peace anymore.”
Watching the waitress walk away made him aware she was quite the beauty. Instantly changing his mood.
“Maybe staying here won’t be bad after all,” he winked at Charles.
“Just make sure to get two separate rooms this time, you sick fuck.”
It wasn’t the first time they shared a room to spare expenses. And it happened a few times before when Thompson brought back a girl. And Charles was forced to choose between sleeping in the bathtub or watching them going at it. He always chose the bathtub.
After a few more beers, it was time to go check in their motel. Maybe Thompson could try and write some more; it has been a while after all. He hasn’t written a new story in years. The pages remained blank. Nothing came out. Had he lost his touch? Or was he out of stories already?
There was a time when he had enough to write and not enough to drink, but this time it was the other way around. He quickly found out that the best inspiration was a writer’s own suffering.
People always wondered where he got his inspiration, but he refused to talk about it. Like it was one big secret or something. Not even Charles knew where he got his ideas.
The waitress came over and brought the bill.
“I get off in an hour,” she said, pointing out the last round of beers was on the house.
Thompson wrote his room number on a napkin and put his autograph under it. He always had room number 31. Even if it wasn’t available, he made sure he got it. Even if he had to wait a little longer for the other person to clear out. Room 31 was his, no matter what.
There was a loud knock on his door. Thompson was lying on his bed in his underwear. Too lazy to put on some pants, he opened the door. He wasn’t an attractive man, but women seemed to dig him. It was never sure it was because he was famous, or that he had a great personality. Most of the time he was rude to people, but somehow it never put them off. It was almost as if people expected him to behave like that. The waitress still had her work clothes on. She came straight to his room, knowing her clothes would be gone soon enough. They both knew why she was there. Another reason why Thompson didn’t bother putting on his pants. He didn’t even remember where he put them when he took them off.
The sheets on the bed were filthy, but what would you expect from a roadside motel in the middle of the desert? Besides, what they were about to do was even filthier. For Thompson, there was never love involved. Just pure, raw sex.
About halfway through, there was another loud knock on the door. Thompson expected it to be Charles, telling them to be quieter. He didn’t want to answer the door and was sure he would go away after a while. There was another knock, even louder than the last one.
“Jessica, are you in there?”
“Jessica?” Thompson asked, “is that you?”
They were too busy fornicating that he never bothered asking her name.
“Oh shit, that’s Jim, my boyfriend! You gotta get out.”
“Get out? This is my room, why would I leave?”
“Because he’s crazy. He’ll kill you if he finds you here with me.”
It wasn’t the first time he slept with a committed woman. Before he could decide what to do next, the door fell off its hinges. Her boyfriend was standing in the doorway, holding a shotgun.
“What the hell Jessica, again?”
Without blinking an eye, he shot Jessica right in her chest. A few blood spatters flew on Thompson’s bare chest. While Jim was reloading his shotgun, Thompson took his typewriter and ran into him. Jim lost his balance and his shotgun fell to the floor, clearing the way to freedom. Thompson ran outside in his underwear and banged on the neighbour’s door, waking Charles up.
“Open up Charles! We gotta go!”
Charles was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes when Thompson grabbed him by the shirt, and dragged him to their car.
“Start the car!”
Charles didn’t know what was happening when he heard a gunshot. The mirror on his side shattered into a million pieces.
“What the hell Kyle, what did you do this time.”
“No time, just drive!”
He turned the ignition and slammed his foot all the way to the floor. The car created a wall of dust behind them and soon they were back on the I40. On their way to Phoenix.
There was no time to relax. It didn’t take long before Charles spotted a pair of headlights in his rearview mirror. At this hour, it could only be him, he thought.
“Let me guess,” he said to Thompson, “married?”
“Worse, a boyfriend.”
He put the typewriter between his feet and looked back.
“He’s closing in, Charles. Can you go any faster?”
“I’m going as fast as I can.”
Thompson could see the fear in his eyes, glistering brighter than the moon. Jim’s car approached fast and soon his car slammed in the back of their GTO.
“Careful, it’s a rental,” Thompson yelled.
Jim didn’t care, he wanted him dead, and slammed one more time. Their GTO swirled over to the left lane. Jim accelerated and drove parallel to their car. Thompson only aggravated Jim even more, taunting him. Making obscene gestures with his hand, showing what he just did to Jim’s girlfriend. Jim had one hand on the steering wheel and the other one on his shotgun. He fired once more. This time he didn’t hit anything, didn’t even come close to the metal of their car. The recoil was too big. Jim held the shotgun between his legs and started reloading. This time he would let it rest on his door, giving him a better aim. Thompson knew what he was up to and didn’t want to let that happen. He opened the glove compartment and took out his .38. He checked if it was still loaded and aimed at Jim. He shot once, hitting him in the shoulder. Jim’s car slammed into theirs and came to a stop in the middle of the road. Jim held his hand to his shoulder and walked towards Thompson. He forgot his shotgun, but his eyes were still filled with anger. Thompson fired again. A bright flash lit up in the dead of night. This time he got him between the eyes. Jim fell down with a thud.
Charles was in shock, grabbing the wheel tightly. Thomson walked over to Jim, patting him down. It didn’t take long before he found his wallet. He didn’t care who he was, he just wanted the money. A lousy fifty dollar, but better than nothing. He figured Jim could pay for a new set of clothes since he had to leave his behind at the motel.
He rejoined Charles in their GTO and ordered him to keep driving. Charles obeyed and glued their tires to the asphalt one last time.
“What the hell Kyle?” he was still trembling all over.
“Hey,” he shrugged, “you wanted to know where I got my inspiration, right?”
Thompson took his typewriter from between his legs and placed it on his lap. His fingers started smacking the keys, one by one.
Soon, a new title appeared black on white:
Sleeping with a serial killer
by Kye Thompson