Back in the hotel room, Jack brushed his teeth, watching himself closely in the mirror. How hyena-like he looked with his teeth bared as he brushed them, his lips pulled back enough to show the gums. And how neat the hotel room was. Everything in his place. Plastic Dixie cup with strange-tasting, almost sweet, water. Hotel soap, unused and wrapped in paper on a little dish by the sink. He liked clean hotel rooms—they way they looked wrapped, and complete, and contained. Particularly hotel bathrooms. Endless clean white towels, a paper strip over the toilet seat cover. He hated removing that paper strip. It seemed to sully the room in a way that could not be changed.
He was not used to staying in hotel rooms alone. When Sarah was alive, they took a few trips a year. Sarah liked to find bed and breakfasts in Vermont or New Hampshire. Places with floral curtains and high piled beds. She loved old places that smelled of cedar and mahogany. Fireplaces in the dining room and the owner’s black lab in the garden. The room he was in now was nothing like those places, but he liked it. He liked the wrapped soap and starched towels and the tightly made bed. His own clothes he had folded away in the dresser, everything in its own compartment.
Sleep came quickly and as he lay in bed he felt the pull of the ocean at him as the edges of his mind grew quiet and everything got dark.