His eyes opened slowly. A pool of drool had formed in the cheap motel pillow, leaving his cheek and chin wet. Todd had been out cold, but only slept for three hours.
Golden morning sunlight poured through the room’s only window. He reached out and smacked the alarm clock into silence. Allowing his body to remain in this restful position, he thought out his next move.
The day before, Todd McHugh had raced the fourteen hours from Marquette to Memphis. As he pushed through Chicago, he had called his mother. The police had already found his wife’s body and talked to witnesses. His mother promised to divert the authorities however possible. He stopped long enough in the Windy City to buy a train ticket to Cumberland, and he made sure to use his credit card. He thought that such a diversion could buy him a night’s sleep.
He assumed the police learned through the night that he wasn’t on the Capitol Limited. Now, he had to decide if he wanted to go to his sister’s place in Las Vegas or really roll the dice and flee to Mexico.
Todd made up his mind that instant. He would drive to Mexico and live on the cash he had managed to get out of his checking account the previous day. He imagined that he could get his mother to wire some additional money until he got on his feet. Aguascalientes or Acapulco were beautiful postcard cities and far from the border. He would drive to one of the two and keep out of sight. He would be just another American businessman or tourist.
With his mind still foggy from sleep, Todd dressed, left the Rum Cherry Motel, and drove southwest. He breezed through Little Rock and Dallas. He refused to stop again, and he made marvelous time.
Even the notorious traffic of Austin and San Antonio separated for him. He crossed the border at Laredo without a problem.
Late that night, Todd sat at the bar inside the Restaurante San Esteban in Monterrey. He calmly drank a margarita, tossing the straw to the side. A curvy, young waitress winked at him as she placed a plate of arrachera steaks on the bar in front of him. Her name, ironically, was Margarita.
Smiling at her, Todd brought his drink back to his mouth but missed his lips. The alcohol ran down his face, leaving his cheek and chin wet. The morning sunlight was now a flashing red and blue. Todd reached out to smack the alarm clock, only to find the blaring sound was coming from outside his room. A heavy fist was brought against the motel room door several times. There was shouting outside.
Todd had dozed off.
As the door was smashed open, Todd closed his eyes and imagined Margarita. He gave her a quick kiss just before he was dragged out of the Rum Cherry Motel.