Welcome to Dillon
Eberling opened his eyes and held his breath. Feeling as though he was playing dead, he watched the woman tiptoe across the floor. She was thick and short making, her way to the bureau.
Eberling looked at the clock. It was four in the morning. He sighed and flicked on the lamp. The woman froze mid step halfway across the room. If this made her invisible it certainly wasn’t working now.
He got out of bed grabbing his .32 out of the night stand. She hadn’t moved, too afraid to move.
“Get in the chair.”
She moved slowly not making eye contact. perching on the edge of the chair, ready to run.
“What’s your name?” She didn’t answer. “Hey! What’s your name?”
“Sharon,” she whispered.
“Well, Sharon, didja get anything of mine?” She shook her head. “Empty your pockets.”
She had forty-two dollars and some items she could easily pawn. None of it was Eberling’s.
“So, I’m guessin’ I’m not your first stop tonight?”
She shook her head.
Eberling lit a cigarette. “No reason to get the law involved,” Eberling thought, “She didn’t get nothin’; she’s no harm.”
“How old are ya?”
“Nineteen,” she said, keeping watch on the carpet.
“Was this your idea? Robbing motel rooms?”
She shook her head again.
“Whose idea was it? Boyfriends? He say it’s an easy gig, in and out, get some spendin’ money?”
She nodded this time.
“Can you fucking speak? Christ almighty…so, your boyfriend forced ya?”
“It was his idea.”
“Didja want to do it?”
“Well, then my advice is to get away from the fucking guy. Put that shit back in your pockets and get the hell out.”
Eberling stood up. Sharon started refilling her pockets.
“Come on I still want to get some sleep tonight.”
She sniffled. “Please don’t cry,” thought Eberling.
Sharon crossed the room, her head down, sniffling. She went out the door, stuck her head back in saying, “Thank You.”
Eberling didn’t say anything just locked the door behind her. He put his .32 back in the night stand and laid back down. Sleep didn’t come easy.
In the morning Eberling had breakfast at a diner. The eggs were runny, but the bacon was good. From there he headed over to the garage that still had his car. “Your cars ready Mr. Lerner,” said the mechanic, who wore inch thick glasses and a sweat-stained hat.
Bruce Lerner was the name the people of Dillon, Iowa knew Eberling by. He was probably being over cautious, giving a fake name, but better safe than sorry. Eberling was still getting used to it. Saying over in his head, “I am Bruce Lerner. Hi, I’m Bruce…Bruce Lerner.” It wasn’t working.
A few days ago, it was, that, Eberling came to Dillon. He’d been heading south and hoping to continue on south. But he contracted a leak in a most unfortunate place, Eberling pulled off into the only place for miles that wasn’t a cornfield. Two days later and he was still here; a small town in the sticks only two hours away from where he started.
Eberling came from a town in northern Iowa that’s big enough to think of Dillon as the boonies. He likes it there and never thought of leaving, not even for a vacation. But when he took twenty grand out of his bosses’ safe, and put it in the suitcase that’s now under his motel room bed, Eberling knew he set fire to the possibility of staying home.
So, maybe he could go somewhere big. A place where he can make a name for himself. With the leak patched Eberling could continue south. Maybe southwest until he found a town with buildings that had more than two stories.
When he got to his motel room, Eberling saw the door was ajar. He kicked it open, trying to make his short frame look large. Casting a long shadow into the room he waited for an attack. None came. He reached in and hit the light switch. The room was trashed.
The mattress was on the floor the drawers were all pulled out and the lamps were broken. Eberling took a few steps inside, and then rushed over to the far side of the bed.
Down on the floor, he looked under the bed. His .32 was still strapped to the underside taped up looking like a giant spider; right where he had left it. Eberling pulled out his suitcase, the money was gone. They hadn’t even re-latched it.
Eberling threw the suitcase across the room, it hit the wall and fell, snapping shut like a clam.
Eberling put his .32 in his waist and went back out the door. Locking it, for what good it will do. He wasn’t going to the police. He couldn’t go to the police. “Who would I get anyways,” Eberling thought, “Some half-wit Andy Griffith wannabe?”
He strode over to the office. It was a small room with a loud air conditioner that had a continual drip that stained the side of the wall. Eberling threw the door open letting it hit the wall with a bang. The noise aroused the boy behind the desk. He dropped his comic book and stood up looking at Eberling.
“Who’s been in my room?” Eberling asked.
Eberling walked around the desk. “Someone has been in my room. Trashed it. Went Through my stuff. Stole my money.”
The boy backed into the wall. “I didn’t see anything.”
“Are you blind?”
“Deaf?” Eberling cut in.
“Then how could you have not noticed anything. Isn’t part of your job to notice? Or is it that you set it up, in cahoots with that girl from last night.”
The boy cleared his throat. “What girl?”
“The girl who broke into my room last night. Sherry of Sharmine.”
“That’s it you little fuck. You check us in, she rips us off, is that it?”
The boy was sweating. Eberling took out his .32 and shoved it in the boys gut. The kid’s eye’s got big and wet.
“I didn’t do nothin’ Mr. Lerner, honest. I didn’t do nothin’.”
Eberling figured him for the truth, especially since he was about to piss himself.
“Who’s the girl that was in my room?”
“Sharon Bell, her daddy owns the place. Sometimes she sneaks into rooms. I caught her once and she threatened to get me fired.” The boy was bawling now. “I didn’t have nothin’ to do with it, honest.”
Eberling put the .32 back in his pocket and backed off. He grabbed a box of Kleenex off the desk and threw it at the boy. “Knock it off, I ain’t gonna hurt ya,” he said.
He waited for him to quiet down. Then said, “Where can I find her?”
The boy sniffled a little and said, “At her boyfriend’s maybe.”
“Give me some directions or draw a fuckin’ map, come on stop crying.”
The boyfriend had his own place, a small run down heap on the south side of town. The kind of shitty place that you’d figure has a bare mattress for a bed. Eberling made it up the walk and rang the bell. No one came. He pulled back the screen door and knocked. A tall piece of shit with more attitude than hair on his balls answered the door.
“Lookin’ for Sharon Bell,” said Eberling.
“Who the fuck are you?”
Eberling took out the .32. The kid’s eyes went wide. He stared dumbly at Eberling and the gun. He took a slow tentative step backward.
Eberling took a step forward. His toes just barely crossed the threshold when the kid threw the door shut on him. When it hit Eberling the kid took off into the house.
Bang, the kid heard. Eberling had shot from the doorway, it caught the wall. He ran into the house, following the kid. But he was too slow.
The kid got into the bedroom. Eberling was right behind. He stormed into the bedroom, the .32 going in first.
The kid had a sawed off leveled at Eberling’s gut. When he pulled the trigger, the kick threw the skinny bastard on the floor. For the most part, it missed Eberling. Only a couple of the pellets hit him, the rest spread across the back wall.
Putting a hand on his bleeding side Eberling stepped closer to the kid on the floor. He put the heel of his foot on the kid’s wrist and picked up the shotgun.
“How old are you?” Eberling asked.
“Where’s Sharon Bell, Chet?”
“Fuck you, asshole,” Chet said before grabbing for the shotgun. Eberling didn’t hesitate. He just pulled the trigger, giving it to him in the chest.
Eberling dropped the shotgun and put his hand back to his side. He started walking out the door before he heard a sniffle. He turned back, stepping over Chet, and saw Sharon on the floor between the bed and the wall.
“Your money’s in the living room. I can get it for you; it’s on the coffee table.” She was crying. “I’m sorry. I won’t say anything.”
Eberling took a lazy glance at Chet over his shoulder.
“I can get you your money, please. It’s on the coffee table, please.”
“If it’s on the coffee table, what do I need you for?”
Sharon started to say something else but Eberling shot her.
He made his way into the living room. There was a tattered couch and a large T.V. But, no coffee table.