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And there’s nothing short of dying...

It’s late in the afternoon.

That’s half as lonesome as the sound...

I’m singing along with the tape, waiting for the moment when we have to stop.

Of the sleeping city sidewalk...

We have to stop before sundown or else it’s bad luck.

And Sunday morning coming down...

Eventually Kate pulls up at a motel somewhere and gets out to take care of the manager. I sit in the car and look at the car park. It looks great, all smooth and dark with shiny white lines and tiny numbers for the parking bays. Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble over this car park.

After a while I decide I want to stretch my legs so I get out of the car and head over to Reception. A sign on the door says ‘Welcome to Shangri La’. I push open the door and see straightaway that it’s not a proper office at all. It’s more like somebody’s sitting room. There are a couple of armchairs, a small colour telly on a smoked glass coffee table and a bubbling fish tank. It’s home away from home. Kate and the manager are leaning over a small desk doing the paperwork. They both look up at me when I come in.

Hi there, I say.

They say nothing but keep on watching me. The manager is a tiny fellow, dead pale and scrawny, with white hair on top which looks real neat.

Rego? he says.

Kate gives it to him without even pretending to think.

I drop into an armchair and start to watch the telly. There’s a massive white teapot with pink lips sitting in a yellow car and he’s chatting away to a big red pencil. Not too fast Mr Doodle, says the teapot. He sounds as if he’s about to start freaking out or something. I’m not surprised. The pencil looks pretty fucking wild to me. It keeps telling the teapot not to worry. Oh do be quiet Terrence, says the pencil in a gruff voice. The teapot has a high-pitched voice but I can tell the same person is doing the voices for both the teapot and the pencil. That’s pretty cool, I reckon, having more than one voice like that.

Eventually the pencil dumps the teapot by the roadside and drives off in his yellow car. I feel a bit sorry for the teapot, being left like that, but it’s probably all for the best. It’s obvious that pencil is a real psycho.

Hey, mate...

I want to ask the manager if he knows what happens to the teapot in the end but he’s far too busy with Kate right now to pay me any attention. Never mind. It can wait.

I think about going out to wait in the car but then I notice the dog. It’s a fat little thing fast asleep behind the other armchair. It’s got short white hair and a mottled pink and brown belly. It looks like a pig in disguise.

Nice doggy, I say. What’s your name then?

I look up at the manager again to see if he can tell me, but he’s still only got eyes for Kate. I reach down to give the dog a stroke and when it wakes up to bite my hand, I can really feel it hurt.