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An Excerpt from A Week’s Worth

Pages 67-70

They arrived in the night to an uncrowded freeway dipping toward Marina del Rey. Mac directed Sadie west as they rounded the corner from Pacific Avenue and Driftwood. A pungent scent of hydrogen sulfide blowing in on the breeze consumed them.

“Oh my God, it smells so good here,” Sadie said.

“Yeah, it’s seaweed rotting on the beach. To be more specific, sargassum seaweed.”

They rounded the turn at Speedway and slowly drove north on the little sand cay just south of the Venice Pier. Sadie looked around curiously, taking in the dimly lit street.

“You remembering any of this?” Mac asked. “It’s been a long time.”

“It’s too dark. Maybe. Do I turn here?”

“Yeah. See, you remember. And then pull up to the garage on the left.” He reached into his satchel bag.

The place was a safe haven, a hideaway from most of Los Angeles. A rarity that if someone asked where he lived, they usually didn’t know of the Marina Peninsula. It was kept secret for those who knew, the beach tucked away to the left of Venice Pier. A place to come home to after long days of work fifty miles in every direction but west, where the beach lay. Quaint, quiet, and hushed.

Mac directed his mom to drive the little white VW into the parking area at Catamaran, and they pulled up in front of a parking garage. He pointed the remote-control clicker at the garage gate. “Let’s see if this thing still works,” he said, squeezing the gadget. A red light flickered, and the rust-orange gate jerked to life and disappeared behind the wall. Sadie pulled in and did a three-point turn to an empty spot.

Stepping out like rusted ladders, they stretched and gathered their belongings. Mac insisted taking his mom’s bags, which she willingly gave up. She held her purse and the small food bag as they began to climb the two flights of stairs. With two duffle bags and satchel over his shoulder, he followed behind her. At the top of the landing, Sadie stepped to the right, and Mac punched in the door code. The door buzzed open, and he nudged it wide with his knee, then elbowed the light switch and illuminated the room.

The apartment was still warm from the sun. It was rectangular in shape, twenty feet deep. A mirror ran two-thirds the length of the space from the big windows at the front to the kitchen entrance. There was a redwood slab for a dining table that stuck out of the wall and matched the floor. It had two chairs. To the left was a couch in front of a stone fireplace and a space where a television had once been. The holes from the wall mount where still present. And past that, a staircase that went down to a bedroom. Another staircase on the right past the kitchen went up.

He set the items on the table and turned to his mom. It had been a long day. Many miles driven, much smoke inhaled, and the underpinnings of family reminded. He wanted to keep things upbeat. But instead, he simply said, “Shall we brush our teeth, wash up, and go straight to bed?”

“Yes, please. I’m tired.”

“Just want to say thank you for driving. You wanna sleep upstairs or downstairs?”

“Downstairs. I don’t want to climb anymore.”

“I understand. Okay, follow me.” He dropped his satchel and brought her bags down the hallway to a second set of stairs. “It was a cool lifestyle I had, being here for five years.”

Sadie didn’t respond. She was struggling as she navigated herself down each step, holding the railing and taking heavy breaths. Mac asked if she’d like him to run her a bath or shower before bed. She opted for the shower, so he set her up with fresh towels and made the beds, then went to his bathroom and brushed his teeth. Calling down the stairs, they wished each other sweet dreams.

Back upstairs on the third level, Mac lay in bed, then a low hum buzzed with a barely audible double bleep. His cell phone. He looked at the screen. Blue eyes beamed beneath ski goggles of a pretty woman’s face in the snow. A soft, raspy voice said hello after several clicks. “This was unexpected. How’s it going?”

“You there yet?”

“Just got in. You tracking me?”

“Hardly. You’re doing the right thing.”

“I sure hope so.”

“Did you talk to your sister this morning?”

“No.”

“You should.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I gotta go.”

“Okay.” And the phone went dead.

Like counting sheep, he drifted off trying to recall all the street names that made up the Marina Peninsula. Anchorage. Buccaneer. Catamaran. Driftwood…

***

Not far away in a dark room another phone rang, and a groggy man answered.

“Hello?” he answered, sounding annoyed.

“It’s me. Put the old man on.”

“He’s dead.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah, I’m fucking serious.”

“How?”

“COVID.”

“I’m sorry. Ugh.”

“It’s late. Why the fuck are you calling?”

The caller had a nasal voice with a WASP sound. “He’s back.”

“Who’s back?” the man demanded.

“The guy you warned me about from a few years back.”

There was a long silence. “Are you sure?”

“I looked him up. Howard MacGuffin.”

“He just showed up?

“Yeah.”

“Alone?”

“With some woman. What do you want me to do?”

“Nothing for now. Fuck. I need to think.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll call you tomorrow.” And the line went dead.

Excerpted from A Week’s Worth by Thyme Lewis Copyright © 2022 by Thyme Lewis. Excerpted by permission of Palmetto Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.

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