From last time ...
"Well, to begin with, Jake didn't kill those guys."
"He didn't? Then who did?"
"Didn't Jake tell you? No, I don't suppose he did. I did, Billy. I did ... and Jake paid the price."
And now ...
It was near midnight when Billy pulled the car into Ma's dusty parking lot. The light was still on in the lobby.
Billy and Sarah walked through the door and found Ma sleeping, with her head on the counter. Billy coughed.
"Huh? Wha?" Ma's head popped up.
"SARAH!! C'mere, girl. Lemme look atcha."
Ma came around the end of the counter, Sarah stepped into Ma's arms and they hugged.
"I'm sorry about Jake, Sarah. I know how you felt about him."
"How could you know? I barely knew myself."
"Oh, I knew, even if you didn't. I'm not so old that I've forgotten what love is like. Besides, it was writ all over you like green ink on a dollar bill. And I don't blame ya. He was a good man ... like a son, to me. I'm gonna miss him."
"Yeah. Me too, Ma. Me too."
"You been ta see him?"
"Yeah. Billy drove me out to the Res to see him. They've got him all wrapped up, Indian style, I guess. It's like it's not even him. I was gonna go for the burial, but I think maybe I'll just stay here. In that room back there, if that's okay."
"Sure, darlin'. That's just fine. You can stay in that room as long as you like. Billy. Bring in her stuff."
"She doesn't have any stuff, Ma. Just this little bag."
Billy help up Sarah's small overnight bag.
"Oh, that's okay, Billy. There's plenty of everything she needs right here. Right?"
"That's right, Ma. Everything I need is right here."
And for a moment, Sarah hugged Ma tighter than she'd been hugged in a long, long time.
"Alright. Enough of this lolligaggin' around here. Sarah, you grab some towels and yer key and go hit the hay. Billy - you stayin'?"
"No, ma'am. I gotta get back to the Res. I gotta help with the buryin' in the mornin'.
"Well then, set the lock on the door and turn on the light over the doorbell, will ya? The switch is right there next to the door."
"Sure Ma. G'nte. G'nte, Sarah."
"Good night, Billy. And thanks."
Billy waved and turned on the light, set the lock in the door, and walked out into the night.
"He's a fine young man, but he's no Jake. Get a good night's rest, Sarah. There's a lotta stuff we gotta talk about in the mornin'."
"I know, Ma. Good night."
Sarah leaned over and kissed Ma on the cheek.
"Thank you, Ma. I love you."
"Go to bed, girl. I'll see you in the mornin'."
Sarah walked down the hall and turned the key in the lock to the room she and Jake had shared for most of a day and a night, almost a year ago. She opened the door, stepped into the room and switched on the light.
It looked just the same as it had back then. Of course, there was no reason to expect it to change. But the sameness of the place struck her, hard. The bed covers. The shade. The little night stand next to the bed with the small shaded lamp. And the clock. The Big Ben clock with it's loud tick tock. Things she never really noticed before, but suddenly seemed to have taken on importance. And she was glad. Glad that this place hadn't changed. Glad that this one place could be her shrine to what they had - to what they might have had.
She laid down across the bed, clothes and all.
"G'nite, Jake. I love you."