I'm a nice person. At least, that's the image I have of myself. I don't want to ruffle anyone's feathers in life, don't want to step on anyone to get what I want, don't want to cause a fuss or inconvenience others. I order coffee but get tea, I just drink tea. I wake up one morning as Rob Garcia, I live a year in his life.
But there's something to be said for doing what it takes to get what you need.
Earlier, I mentioned the logistical problem of this dad-guy and his wife and kid, if they happened to head off to Boston before any of us had transformed. I'm guessing somehow the transformation would occur anyway, and for all I know I'd still get out of here with my own body. Or maybe I'd get to the end of my reservation and not transform at all. That's not acceptable, even a marginal chance of it.
The other side of it, though, was the kid -- they had a son about 10. If I was just some random visitor, and I saw a couple with their kid, I wouldn't think anything of it. So when the kid gets transformed, oh, it's just as much a surprise as anything else. But knowing it was going to happen? Something about that didn't sit right with me. Part of me wanted to let them go, and try to find another way to let it happen.
I was discussing this with Fletcher. He said he has a couple of people nearby he might be able to call on -- "travelers" tend to stay in the New England -- but the loss of three bodies at the inn wouldn't be easy to overcome. He suggested it would be smartest to try to convince them to stay another day. I said I wasn't much for manipulating people.
"Leave it to me," he says.
I spent last night tossing and turning, hoping the change would happen, but it still didn't. Afraid of what might happen if this whole thing somehow goes bust, my dreams felt haunted.
The next morning, I awoke to the sound of a rumbling. It was the unmistakable sound of a lover's quarrel. She was screaming something about broken plans and bad promises. I didn't want to eavesdrop, but they were having at it in the open air, so I heard whatever I heard.
The fight ended with the sound of luggage being carried out to a car. In a worry, I thought, "This is the opposite of what I want to happen!" So I scrambled to find some pants and see what exactly had occurred.
I found the Dad on his own. The wife had driven off with their son, presumably for Boston.
"Sorry you had to hear that," he said, "The wife and I had a difference of opinion."
"This place. I wanted to hang out a bit longer, and she was laying into me because she has a thing about plans."
"I know what you mean," I said, albeit with more sympathy for the wife than I let on. "She just left you here?"
"Eh, I just thought we paid for the room, why not enjoy it? It's a little nicer than your average roadside joint, don't ya think?" Yes. "But she says, oh, we've gotta keep to our schedule, Boston this, blah blah. So I let her go, and I'll take a bus down and meet her there in a couple of days when it's all blown over."
It seemed miraculous how it had all worked out. A little too miraculous. And some of this didn't sit right with me.
I went and found Fletcher. "What did you do?"
"What'd I do?" he snickered, "I didn't do anything, man. I mean sure, some stuff happened, but I don't think it has anything to do with me." He grinned and said, "Come to think of it, what makes a man suddenly gain a fondness for a little Inn in the middle of nowhere?"
I asked him again. "...Fletcher, what did you do?"
He looked me in the eye. "I had a little talk with your ladyfriend Sam. She knows more about what's happened here than I would."
I rushed off to Sam's room and knocked urgently on her door. She answered in pajamas and tousled hair, like I'd just woken her up. "Oh, hey Rob, are we still here?"
I hissed in a quiet tone, in case anyone could hear, "What did you do last night?"
She looked at me, defensively, with a cold, annoyed look that didn't care to be accused at. She pulled me into her room.
"What did that asshole tell you?" she asked.
"Which asshole? The asshole whose wife just left him here, or the asshole who bodyjacks strangers for fun?"
"Either one. What did you hear?"
"I didn't hear anything. But Fletcher strongly implied you were responsible for whatever just happened to that guy."
She sat on the bed and said nothing. Irritated with the lack of explanation, I began to yell, "Did you--" before I realized exactly how loud this body's voice can be. I stopped to compose myself. "Did you fuck him?"
She shot back, "No! God, is that what you think I am? Some kind of whore? That I'd have sexual intercourse with a married man just to, just to what? To help you get your body back faster? No, I didn't sleep with anybody." She looked bitterly at me. "I only sleep with people I like."
"So, what then?" I demanded, trying to brush away the embarrassment of my accusation.
"Well," she said very hesitantly, "I convinced him to say."
"With what, a sandwich platter?"
"Ouch," she said, "No, just a few choice words. I never said anything was going to happen, but I just... had a talk with him. About Maine, and about not missing opportunities for seeing sights, and experiencing things... I may have planted the idea that staying would be a good idea."
After a moment, I said, "So... you led him on, into staying at the inn so he could be transformed?"
"That's one way of looking at it. It's not my fault he may have drawn certain... interpretations."
I fell silent for a moment. She asked whether I was mad.
"I'm not mad," I said, half-truthfully, "I just wonder why any of this had to happen. I could've left well enough alone. Maybe figured out some other way."
After a moment when neither of us could figure out anything to say, Fletcher appeared in the doorway. "Just thought you might like to know," he said, "My friends are on their way, and someone else just pulled up in the parking lot. Might as well get ready for tomorrow."
I don't know if any of this is all right. I feel like maybe I overreacted to Sam's actions. Maybe none of this has anything to do with me. I don't even know if it was necessary. But it happened. Now the rest of us just have to deal with it.
I'm just tired of thinking about it