Santa Fe, NM

The neighborhood in Santa Fe is dark except for infrequent strobes of yellow and blue lightning that illuminate bulky thunderheads. Fat droplets of rain hit the pavement and smack with a sound that can only be likened to raw meat being dropped on a marble counter. Through an iron gate, onto the dark porch of a brown faux-Pueblo house where a cardboard cutout of Will Ferrell dressed as an elf smirks in the flickering light. The small voice on the phone says the door will not be locked. The door is locked. Is it the right door? The one with the dog in the other side? "Yes," he small voice says, "there should be another couch surfer there." The dog does not bark in response to knocking on the door, though it is rumored to be friendly. Windows in the door offer disjointed glimpses a cluttered living room illuminated by the soft, chilly glow of a CRT. Law & Order reruns. Television actors. Their voices are audible through the thin wood, overblown intonation, stagnant pauses, weepy outbursts. The episode is about the rape of a retarded person.

Knock knock.

The dog is quiet as the windows in the door buzz softly. A traveler's backpack vomits clothes off a sofa onto the floor. Next to the door, a bedroom window yawns. There is no screen. "Go for it," the little voice says. Heavy, wet boots squeak. Interior doors open. Inside the living room, Law & Order continues: "their lawyer might argue that it was pity sex..." The dog wags its tail and snuffles around the boots. Numerous sofas line the living room walls. They are covered in stuff. Mounds of stuff. Laptops, clothes... people. A shirtless man covered in tattoos is passed out next to the door, oblivious to the televised drama, the loud knocking, and now the dull thudding of boots near his head. Is he breathing? Softly. The dog pads around the room and presses its wet nose against things. The air is close. "I... just... can't believe this!" a woman chokes through tinny television speakers.

There is wireless. Wireless is all you need to locate a cheap motel. Phone calss. Reservations. Doors open and close. The dog scuttles around excitedly while the tattooed man lies on the sofa like a corpse, his waxy skin gleaming under the flickering blue television light.

Lock the door. Close the door.

Outside the rain has stopped, leaving the air pungent and fresh.

Heavy boots crunch on gravel. A wrought-iron gate squeaks. In the distance, the porch is black except for the sickly, radioactive light from the windows. Red button: thwacka-thwacka. Thumper engines sound like helicopters.

Go, go, go.