The room was dark, the bedspread thin, the shower metal and claustrophobia-inducing.

"Doesn't look like you're going to take the towels home," I told N. I'd seen Hilton towels in the bathroom of his apartment in Pasadena.

The desk clerk stood across the parking lot looking in our open door. I pulled the key from the lock, and tried to close the door. It scraped and tugged on a carpet loop before it shut with an insubstantial hollow sound.

"Everything's bolted down." I toured the room a second time, swiveling the TV as I passed it. He was still sitting there on the bed watching me prowl.

"Why don't you sit here by me." He patted the mustard-colored bedspread. "And then we can have a drink."

It was a dry, tentative kiss.

He extracted two bottles of airplane booze Dewar's from his overnight bag and went into the bathroom to get the water glasses.

"My wife likes this kind of soap," he said from the tiny bathroom.

"You're kidding. It doesn't smell very good."

"She likes it. Can't find it at the drugstore. Doesn't know what brand it is." He appeared with two little soaps in his hand, and tucked them into the side pocket of his overnight bag.

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