Jacob paces the room. He kicks a box in front of him against the opposite wall and looks at his watch. "4:46. Where the **** is he?" Martin sits slumped against the wall. His face is paler than it should be, his hair in his face. He is nursing a bullet wound in his stomach. It's deep. He was using a handkerchief but it soaked through so he tossed it on the floor. Now an old t-shirt is at his aid. The bleeding has slowed but persists. He's not scared.
"You know what's funny?" asks Martin.
"Allison and I were going to go away for the weekend. Up the coast. I planned on taking her wine tasting. You know how she loves the wine from that restaurant I always take her to. Instead I’m here." Martin laughs to himself, coughing slightly. He looks down at his wound. "I need a drink."
"I’ll get you a drink as soon as we get you patched up. Whatever you want. Just keep on it, try to stop the bleeding. As soon as we hear Carlos pull up in that old piece of **** sedan of his we’re home free." He looks at his watch again.
Martin looks up and takes a deep breath. Jacob leans in and peels back the soiled shirt at Martin's belly.
"I don't think I'm going to make it," says Martin.
"You'll be fine. Just keep a good amount of pressure on it."
"Look at all this blood. I'm tired, I'm getting tired. Damn it, I loved these jeans."
"Relax. He'll be here. I just hope Carlos isn't too drunk to get us to a hospital. We don't need to get pulled over. Don't need that **** getting a DUI on us."
"He better hurry. It's getting cold."
"What's getting cold?"
"I mean, I'm getting cold."
Jacob walks to the window and peers outside. Several pedestrians occupy the sidewalks. One woman jogs by wearing a headset. Expensive cars slow down at the intersection. Big sunglasses in their rear view mirrors. Jacob shakes his head. "Man, I hate Southern California," he says. "So many lost souls. No one knows anything. They just scurry about like rats. No direction. Look at that one. Where you going, bitch? And that guy hates working there, you can tell. Look at him clean the tables. Never thought you'd get this far did you pal?"
"Alison is **** around on me." Martin is staring off into nothing. It's been on his mind a while. Jacob pauses. "Yeah, I know."
"Yeah," Jacob looks back out the window. "Everyone knows."
"Everyone? Who's everyone?"
"You know, “they”, people, everyone. It’s no secret, the girl ain’t right for you."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Look man," says Jacob. "This is Hollywood. People are shallow. One minute you’re loved, the next you’re hated. You’ve done some acting before, you know how it can be here. You never know who you can trust. Allison, she isn't the kind of girl to settle down with. She's too superficial."
Martin pushes too hard on his stomach which causes him to gag and cough. Jacob crouches down in front of him and lights up a cigarette.
"Hey, I told you no smoking in my room," says Martin. “Not anymore anyway."
Jacob takes a drag off the cigarette and then puts the butt in Martins mouth. Martin takes a long hard pull and coughs.
"You know how I've been trying to quit." Martin pulls the cigarette from his mouth. With the other hand he uses the shirt covering his wound to wipe the blood from his mouth. Blood pours from the hole in his stomach. He quickly gets the shirt back over the wound and takes a rough, deep breath.
Jacob lights another cigarette.
"Look, we go way back," Jacob says. "I've been meaning to tell you about it. But I've seen you two together. I've seen how happy you are. I just couldn't bring myself to say anything."
"I don't understand. She means the world to me. Where did I go wrong?"
"It was just your time. You can never really plan for these kinds of things. People spend all their energy trying to direct something that's already mapped out for them. There's nothing you could have done to prevent where you are."
Just then Martin starts a coughing fit. Jacob grabs another shirt from the closet and cups Martins mouth with it. "C'mon Carlos. Where the **** are you?"
"God damn it," Martin says, "That was my favorite button down."
Jacob drops the shirt on the floor and steps back. Martin leans his head back against the wall. His complexion is worse. He has no strength. So much blood.
"Is that why you shot me?" Martin asks.
Jacob looks at Martin and then down at the floor. A pistol lays near the foot of the bed. A bullet shell nearby. Jacob looks back at Martin. The two are caught in a stand off. Smoke pours from Jacob's mouth. Blood pours from Martin's stomach. Martin doesn’t have much time.
"Tell me," Martin says, "It's okay."
"It wasn’t supposed to be like this. But here we are."
"She's got you then."
"The Black Widow doesn’t want to get her little hands dirty, but she certainly wants to reap the benefits. I was given an offer I can't refuse."
Jacob kneels by his weak friend and says, "I know I’ll be soon to follow you."
"You're a real piece of work my friend."
"We all have our price."
Martin no longer has a grip on the rag at his stomach. The blood flows freely. It's soaking through the blankets on the bed.
Jacob extinguishes his cigarette and the two men shake hands.
Martin begins to fade. He knows it. His stare becomes fixated. Jacob watches the whole time, never breaking contact with the eyes. He watches his friend die.
One slow, deep, final exhale.
Jacob stands up slowly. He grabs the cigarette from Martins hand and stubs it out on the carpet. He then walks to the window and draws the shade. He looks back at Martin, then at the closet. He walks to the closet, pushes a pile of books away to reveal a small safe. He kneels down and quickly dials in the combination.
The safe opens without trouble.
From the safe Jacob pulls out a few stacks of cash, several letter sized envelopes and a small box. He takes a backpack from the closet and fills it with the safes contents. He spins around, swoops up the revolver and tosses it in with the goods. He conceals the safe and stands up.
Backpack over his shoulder, Jacob exits the bedroom, shutting the door behind him. He walks through the clean white living room and out the front door of Martin's apartment. He closes the front door gently. He walks down the stairs to the sidewalk. He rounds the corner and lights up another cigarette. Then Jacob is gone.
Back at the front of the apartment building an old rusty sedan pulls up and parks. A man steps out of the vehicle and closes the door.