Spaghetti Best Western

Spaghetti Best Western

Spaghetti Best Western

Spaghetti Best Western

Three buildings light up a small lot at the top of a small rise in the desert along the major highway running east to west. The first building is an old casino with flashy lighted signs. The second building is a liquor store, dwarfed in comparison to the casino next door. The last building is a big blue Best Western – lit windows dot the side of the hotel facing the street.

As the sun dips under the horizon, the roar of an American-made motorcycle grows closer. Over the horizon line a dark figure on the bike comes into view. The motorcycle comes to a stop in front of the tiny liquor store and a tall, blonde man in a poncho steps off the bike. He scans the lot with only his eyes as he raises a cigarillo to his mouth and lights it behind his hand shielding the wind. The lot is empty save for a group of men standing outside the casino, a woman and a little boy inside the liquor store, and whoever was inside the lit rooms in the Best Western. Against the pitch dark void of the desert behind the lot, those lighted rooms seem brighter than they were and the casino’s signs seem to scream. The tiny liquor store was hanging on the edge of the dark desert’s nothingness with a flickering neon open sign, a dimly lit interior and now the slow burning ember of the blonde man’s cigar in front of it. A bells rings and the liquor store door swings open. Out runs a little boy up to the Blonde Man.

Little Boy: Hello sir! Let me help you with your things to the hotel next door. You here to try your luck at the casino? There’s money to be made in this little lot. Money to be lost too, if you’re not careful.

Blonde Man: Money, huh? I wasn’t planning on staying.

Little Boy: Oh! But, sir, you have to stay!

Blonde Man: And why’s that?

Little Boy: This is the best hotel you’ll find for a long way and it’s very dark now. You’ll hit something on the road or you’ll fall asleep on your bike. The rooms are comfortable and very inexpensive. And there’s a landlady here, sir!

Blonde Man: She married?

Little Boy: Yes, but she doesn’t care!

The little boy takes the Blonde Man’s bag and leads him to the hotel lobby. The Blonde Man tosses him a coin and the little boy runs off back towards the liquor store. There’s a curvy woman staring seductively at the Blonde Man and a short balding clerk behind the counter. The woman continues to stare at the blonde man and licks her lips. The blonde man puts out his cigar in an ashtray on the counter.

Short Blading Clerk: Hello, sir! How can we help you this evening?

Blonde Man: Looking for a room.

Short Blading Clerk: Ah yes, you came to the right place, let me see here. Yes, we have a few rooms available. I have to tell you though, a big conference is on its way and this hotel will be very busy soon. Our best rooms are booked up, but I will let you stay in one of them until the other guests arrive.

Landlady: I’ll show him up. I’ll make sure he gets the full tour. I’ll make you completely comfortable.

Short Blading Clerk: I’m sure he’s been to a hotel before. A tour is not necessary! We’ve been over this before. Stop seducing the guests! You must excuse my wife.

Blonde Man: Is there a bar?

Short Blading Clerk: Yes, yes. Second floor, down the hall. There’s a kitchen too.

The Blonde Man makes his way to the second floor. At the staircase, a door leading to the basement reads, “Janitorial Staff only, No Entre!” He goes up the stairs and heads down the hallway towards the bar. The bar is empty except for the bartender behind the bar cleaning glasses.

Sylvester: What’ll it be for you, my friend?

Blonde Man: Tequila.

Sylvester: Very good choice. That’s the best stuff we’ve got here. Are you here for the big conference this week? Getting a jump-start?

Blonde Man: Just passing through. Wasn’t planning on staying the night, but who knows, I could get rich at the casino.

Sylvester: You could try, but most people just leave that casino broke, broke and high, or dead from an overdose.

Blonde Man: If a lot of people end up broke, there’s usually someone ending up rich.

Sylvester: You’re right about that, and the drugs don’t grow on cactus either. These three buildings are the home of one of the oldest rivalries in the desert.

Blonde Man: Rivalries, huh?

Sylvester: It started with bootlegged alcohol during prohibition, but it turned into drugs and girls. And it’s a small place for two groups to be going after the same business. There’s a lot of money to be made when one of the conferences rolls through, and there hasn’t been one in a while.

Blonde Man: Who are they?

Sylvester: The rival groups? Well the Baxters are on the top floor of the hotel, most of them are managers here and they also run the casino. The Rojos are mostly janitorial staff at the hotel and the casino, but they also run the liquor store. The Rojos typically operate out of the basement of the hotel. Neither group owns the casino, liquor store, or hotel. The owner is not really around, but he employs them all, Baxters and Rojos. It makes the rivalry even more complicated.

Blonde Man: Baxter’s up there, Rojo’s down there, me right smack in the middle.

Sylvester: If you are thinking what I suspect, I’m telling you, don’t try it.

Blonde Man: That kid was right, there’s money to be made in this place. Which one of them is stronger?

Sylvester: Which is stronger? Well… the Rojos are stronger. Especially Ramon.

The Blonde Man finishes his drink and nods goodbye to Sylvester. He makes his way back towards the stairs and returns to the door that reads “Janitorial Staff Only, No Entre!” The Blonde Man looks around slowly and tries at the doorknob. It’s locked. He knocks twice. No answer. He knocks again. There’s a sound of rustling and crashing from behind the door. It’s getting louder. The door bursts open and a man is hurled to the floor, bloody and unconscious. The man who throws him looks at the Blonde Man with a furrowed brow.

Ramon Rojo: What you want?

Blonde Man: I’m just passing through, looking to make a few dollars. Seems you just became short a man.

Ramon Rojo: Tito was stealing from the stash. We don’t tolerate disloyalty here. What makes you’d think I’d hire you, a stranger, anyways?

Blonde Man: I’m a man who knows how to get things done. Anyway, I hear a big conference is coming to town. Be a shame to miss out on the money just because you’re down a man.

Ramon Rojo: I’ll tell you what. You prove you can be trusted and then you can work for me. There’s a Baxter over at the casino that’s been roughing up one of our girls. Nobody roughs up our girls. At least, not unless they paid to do it. He didn’t. So, I want you to go to the casino and get rid of him. Kill him.

Blonde Man: Consider it done. Boss.

The Blonde Man leaves the hotel and heads towards the brightly lit casino. He stops when he gets to the door of the little liquor store. The ceiling lights flicker. There are no customers in the store. He takes a look around the corner. A group of girls dressed in high heels and tiny dresses scurry towards the casino. From the casino, a large man carrying two briefcases makes his way to the back of the liquor store. He leaves without the cases and heads towards the hotel. A woman sits behind the counter inside. The Blonde Man pulls open the glass door and the bell rings. The woman behind the counter looks up, startled by the noise. Her eye is bruised and her lip is cut. She’s been hit recently. The bottles on the shelves are covered in dust. The beer in the fridge has long past drink by dates.

Julia: Strangers aren’t supposed to be in here.

Blonde Man: Just passing through, ma’am. I won’t be long.

Julia: Please, just go. If they find out someone’s been here…

Blonde Man: What can you tell me about those girls headed to the casino?

Julia: They’re working.

Blonde Man: Do you know about anyone getting rough with the girls?

Julia: Ben Baxter gets rough, yes. He’s usually at the casino.

Blonde Man: Ben Baxter do that to you?

Julia: Me? No. I just watch the store. You have to go. I can’t say anymore.

A door at the back of the liquor store opens. The Blonde Man quietly exits and heads towards the casino. He enters through the casino’s large double doors. The sounds of slot machines, music, and chatter accompany the bright flashing lights inside. Sitting at the bar in the back of the casino is a balding, overweight man in a tightly fitting suit. The girls from the liquor store are standing around him. His stubby fingers grab the girl on his left’s butt. His right arm pulls another girl closer to whisper something in her ear. She pulls herself away with a disgusted look on her face. The bald, fat man starts to laugh and reaches for the drink in front of him. He takes a sip and continues laughing. The Blonde Man makes his way towards the casino bar. The balding, fat man’s laughter continues. As the Blonde Man takes a seat on a barstool, the laughing stops. One of the girls shrieks. The blading, fat man grabs at his chest and falls back in his stool. He comes to the ground with a thud, hitting his head hard on the floor. He’s motionless. The bartender jumps over the bar and rushes to the fat man on the ground. He brings his ear close to the fat man’s nose to listen for breathing. He places his fingers on the fat man’s neck to search for a pulse. Nothing.

Bartender: He’s dead. Somebody tell Robert upstairs.

The Blonde Man slowly gets up from his stool and heads towards the group of girls that was just standing with the dead fat man.

Blonde Man: Who was that?

Working Girl: That… That was Ben Baxter.

The Blonde Man looks around. A group of men in suits comes down the stairs and huddles around Ben Baxter’s body. Two try to lift him, but the body doesn’t budge. Two more join to help and are finally able to lift the body. The four grunt and groan as they shuffle their feet and carry Ben Baxter’s body around the corner towards the back of the casino. Once they’re out of sight, there’s a loud thud, followed by a loud, “Shit, don’t drop him again!”

The Blonde Man makes his way back towards the hotel to talk to Ramon.

Ramon Rojo: So, did you take care of it?

Blonde Man: That’s right. Ben Baxter’s dead.

Ramon Rojo: I knew I sensed something about you! And now you’ve got yourself a job. I think your skillset is just what we need this weekend.

Blonde Man: As long as the money’s right.

Ramon Rojo: Right down to business. Good. I like that. Trust me, the money will be right, but we’ve got to get through the conference first. Out-sell and out-muscle the Baxter’s, that’s how it’s going to have to work. They’ve got the means to set their prices much lower than we can. We can’t let them do that.

Blonde Man: And that’s where I come in?

Ramon Rojo: Exactly. You’re going to make them put their prices so high that nobody would even dream about buying from them. That way, we’ve got the only girls to sell and we’ll have the cheapest product. Shit, we can even offer a two for one special!

Blonde Man: So you want the rest of the Baxter’s to end up like Ben?

Ramon Rojo: Like Ben!? No, no. There’s still a hotel and casino to run here. Try not to kill anybody else. At least not until after the conference.

The Blonde Man returns to the hotel bar to speak with Sylvester.

Sylvester: You’re going to get yourself in trouble with all of this, Blondie. Do you even have a plan?

Blonde Man: What can you tell me about the woman at the liquor store?

Sylvester: That’s Julia. She’s Pablo’s wife.

Blonde Man: Who’s Pablo?

Sylvester: Pablo’s the poor bastard who’s on the line for almost all of the Rojo’s crimes. They’ve got him so tied up in it they can make it look like he’s the kingpin behind it all. Pablo and Julia have a little boy, and they’re trapped here because Pablo got himself stuck as the fall guy.

Blonde Man: Just an innocent fall guy, huh?

Sylvester: It’s not like that. Pablo’s a good man. He got into this by mistake. The three were just passing through a few years ago, just like you. They were headed to Los Angeles where Julia has family that could send their son to school. They needed to make some more money to make the rest of the trip, so Pablo took a delivery job from the Rojos.

Blonde Man: And Julia and the kid?

Sylvester: They’re all trapped here. The Rojos got her at the liquor store. They beat her every now and then to keep her silent. There’s not much any of them can do about it.

The Blonde Man gets up from the bar and leaves to go to the casino.

Sylvester: Blondie! What are you going to do?

The Blonde Man passes through the empty hotel lobby just as the phone at the front desk rings. He stops walking and looks around. The phone continues to ring. He picks it up.

Blonde Man: Hello?

Woman on the Phone: Hi, is this the Best Western?

Blonde Man: That’s right.

Woman on the Phone: Ok great. I’ve been trying to get through all day. No one was picking up. Anyways, I’ve been calling to let you guys know that the Billiards Tables Manufacturer’s conference is going to have to cancel for this weekend. A bunch of the main speakers came down with a nasty bug. I know it’s all non-refundable and whatnot, but this weekend’s just not going to work. Sorry!

The woman hangs up the phone and the Blonde Man sets down the receiver. He heads outside to his motorcycle and lights a cigarillo. A highway patrol officer pulls up next to him on a police motorcycle.

Motorcycle Cop: Nice bike. I used to have something like that when I was your age.

Blonde Man: Thanks, officer.

Motorcycle Cop: I usually never stop here, but I pass it all the time.

Blonde Man: You don’t say.

Motorcycle Cop: This weekend’s supposed to be our annual desert counties law enforcement conference, but nobody took over booking the event after our old guy retired last year. This Best Western’s my last hope.

Blonde Man: You know, I was just speaking with the manager. A different conference just cancelled here. Rooms paid and all. He gave me the job of trying to find people to fill those rooms. He said empty rooms – paid for or not – still lose money. You know with the bar, and room service and all. It seems to me like it’s both our lucky days.

Motorcycle Cop: You’re kidding me?! That’s great news? Anything I need to fill out or sign or anything?

Blonde Man: No sir. Manager just said find me some warm bodies to stay at this hotel and make sure they like drinking.

Motorcycle Cop: No problem there! My boys are no strangers to a taste or two off the clock. That casino looks like it’ll serve for some good R&R too. I guess I’ll see ya this weekend, friend. Oh, and tell your manager not to worry. We’ll be in plain clothes. Wouldn’t want to spook any of your other customers with so many cops around.

The officer gets on his bike and rode away. The Blonde Man finishes his cigarillo. The cigar’s ember fades away against the bright lights of the hotel and casino. The liquor store teeters on the dark desert void behind it as its ceiling lights flicker weakly, in and out. The Blonde Man heads to the liquor store. The door opens and the bell rings.

Blond Man: Are we alone?

Julia: I told you, you cannot be here. Please, go.

Blonde Man: Is it safe to talk?

Julia: Quickly, okay?

Blonde Man: Can you and Pablo and your son get out of here if you had to?

Julia: They’d come for us. We can’t go.

Blonde Man: They won’t. Tomorrow, after the guests arrive at the hotel for the conference this weekend, you guys can leave. Nobody’s going to come for you.

Julia: How do you..? Why are you doing this?

Blonde Man: You remind me of someone I used to know, that’s all. Just get out of here tomorrow. Alright?

Julia: Thank you! Thank you!

The next day, law enforcement officers dressed in street clothes driving their own vehicles begin to arrive at the hotel. Behind the scenes, both the Rojos and the Baxters are preparing their drugs and girls for sale. The plain clothed officers fill the bar. Some head over to the casino. And still more arrive and check into their already paid-for rooms. That evening, the first panel is held in the downstairs ballroom. Both the Baxters and the Rojos have their people working the room to figure out who to sell to. They have to decide who looks like they want drugs, who wants girls, and who wants both. The Blonde Man takes a look into the conference room and heads up to the hotel bar.

Sylvester: Blondie? You’re not dead yet?

Blonde Man: Not dead yet.

Sylvester: You know these guys are cops, right?

Blonde Man: Oh, I know that.

Sylvester: Did you? You set this all up?

Blonde Man: It’s just how things played out. I figured I’d help it along.

Sylvester: You’re crazy, Blondie!

Blonde Man: Behind the dumpster in the back of the hotel, I’ll leave you one of the briefcases. You’ve been a lot of help to me, I want to repay you for that.

Sylvester: Yeah, if you don’t get killed or arrested first! Jesus, Blondie!

The Blonde Man makes his way towards the back of the liquor store. Julia, Pablo, and their son have already left. In the back of the liquor store, the Blond Man grabs two brief cases. He opens one. A bright golden glow illuminates from the case. He closes it. He leaves one of the brief cases behind the dumpster in the back of the hotel for Sylvester. He gets on his motorcycle with the other.

As the sun begins to set over the horizon, the Blonde Man starts his bike and rides off down the highway. Gunfire erupts from the hotel and in the casino. It’s a shootout between the Baxters, the Rojos, and the plain clothed police. Passing him in the opposite direction is a long line of police cars with sirens blaring headed towards the hotel. The Blonde Man rides over the horizon line and out of sight, and the sun slips away into darkness. The bright lights of the casino and the hotel are over taken by the red and blue flashing from the police sirens.

Fade to black.