January 15, 1980

San Francisco, California

The traffic outside roared and shook the walls of the cheap hotel. Mila heard Kyle come out of the bathroom and go to the other twin bed, and within a few minutes his heavy breathing told her that he was sleeping. Finally. She waited a few more minutes, then rose and quietly pulled on her shoes. She took the letter from inside her bag and went to Kyle's bed. Mila placed the letter on the table next to him, then bent and gently undid his suspenders, took off his tie, and tugged his shoes off. They'd discovered that the hotel had a semi-nice bar, but Kyle had been especially taken with their bourbon. Mila had had to half-carry him back to the room.

He groaned when she slid his shoes off and she froze, afraid that he'd wake. But he just shifted and didn't make any more noise. She rested her hand on his arm and smoothed his bangs off his slightly sweaty forehead. He'd gotten them cut shorter since they'd left Hotel Dusk. He said they made him look more like a professional salesperson and/or detective when they were shorter. She kissed him softly on the cheek and left before her tears could fall.

January 16, 1980

San Francisco, California

Kyle woke and immediately shut his eyes tight again. The light streaming in the window made his head pound, and really it was pounding hard enough already. "Ugh...Mila...how much did I drink last night?" he groaned. There was no answer.

"Mila? Hey, kid, I know I'm not the prettiest person to look at after a night spent drinkin', but can ya at least tell me how much I drank?" Still no answer. "Mila!" Kyle groaned and pushed the covers off the bed. Mila must have somewhat undressed him while he slept, because his tie was folded on the end of the bed and his suspenders were hanging by the sides of his legs. Must be in the bathroom... He flopped back onto the bed and noticed a small white envelope on the bedside table. It was addressed to him. He opened it.

Kyle-

You've probably noticed, but I'm gone. I can't stay with you anymore. I know Dunning said your friend Bradley killed my father but I want to find your friend and ask him why. After that, who knows? I'm thinking of going to art school, maybe. I don't know yet. Don't follow me, please.

Your shoes are under your bed.

-Mila

Kyle read and reread the letter, then folded it and slipped it into his pocket. The somber tone of the note had sobered him up and made his hangover a little less painful.

"Mila!" he yelled, and jumped up and tore the sheets off her bed. She'd acquired a sense of humor from somewhere, and he hoped to God that this was a bad prank of hers. He checked under both beds, the bathroom, the closet, and under the table, but she wasn't anywhere. "Mila..." They'd forged a simple friendship over the past couple of weeks, and her disappearing was out of habit for her. He pulled on the Red Crown jacket and its familiar weight settled over his shoulders.

" 'scuse me? Did the girl I checked in with yesterday leave?" he asked of the woman at the front desk.

"Yeah, she left 'round two this morning. Said you'd be worried and tol' me to tell ya that you shouldn't follow her." The woman went back to her magazine.

Kyle walked slowly back to his room. It surprised him how much he missed Mila. He knew this day would come eventually, but not this soon. Her presence had become a daily part in his life, and already he was missing that part. She'd brought a little bit of happiness to him.

He wasn't going to follow her, though.

He'd made a promise to give up the hunt for Bradley.

He and Mila would meet again. Hopefully sooner than later.