First Night

22 hours running

“Police are asking for any witnesses to come forward.”

The newly renamed Gregg Vincent sat on the motel room bed just west of Thunder Bay, Ontario. He had just watched the news report on how his previous life had ended on the floor of the woodworking warehouse where he worked.

His wife had told how he had walked out after a fight. She sobbed in the right spots and appeared contrite. Considering the insurance settlement she would get, he knew better.

Police were asking for help as there was no weapon found at the scene. Of course, he had the gun in the glove box of the SUV.

As soon as the news was over, he crawled into the shower. He turned the heat up to where steam came from the shower head and rinsed the soap off of him. He felt the tension release as the water ran over him and turned his white skin pink.

He dried off and slipped under the covers naked. He lay back on the pillow and flipped the television back on to see the latest hockey replays. He jumped when the room phone rang. He slowly pulled the handset from the craddle. “Hello?”

“Mr. Vincent?”

It took him a moment for the name to register. “Yes, who is this?” He blinked his eyes wide again. The exhaustion almost had him.

“My name does not matter. I do, however, know that Gregg Vincent is currently on a slab in a police morgue in Toronto.” The voice was deep with an obvious British accent.

The silence that followed was acknowledgment of the caller’s statement.

“A little more than twenty hours ago I watched you switch ID with the corpse. Considering your wife’s crocodile tears, I would say we have done you a great favour.”

“What do you want?”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Vincent, we will be in touch when we require your services.” The phone clicked as the caller hung up.

He sat on the bed for a moment with his eyes darting around the room. He got off the bed and checked out the curtains to see if anyone was watching. The snow had picked back up again and made it extremely difficult to see very far.

They knew where he was. Could be a homing device on the truck. Could be they had the credit card watched for use. Could be someone following him.

Regardless, he had no real options until daylight to change any of that.

After getting a glass of water from the bathroom tap, he lay back down. Due to the exhaustion of already being away almost two days, he fell into a troubled sleep.

Normally he did not remember his dreams. This night, however, he had a dream of being in a shark cage with sharks snapping all around.

The alarm woke him at six just as one of the sharks broke through the cage. He looked out the window and saw the sky was still dark. Two vehicles, his SUV and a white PT Cruiser were in the parking lot and being carpeted by the snow.

He had the motel’s continental breakfast, checked out, and at 6:30 he ran again.

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