Allison Hull is in the lobby of the Broken Sky Hotel, smoking her first cigarette ever. The concierge spots her there by the stone fireplace, coughing through a little smile. Her arms are decorated with new tattoos, curved Japanese waves flowing from shoulder to wrist, sea monsters and flying fish, galleons and longships. To the concierge, who’d never seen the ocean, never been outside of Colorado, it looks alien and unsettling, much like the girl herself.
“Ms. Hull,” he says softly, leaning in.
She coughs and nods.
“We just received a wire for you.”
Allison glances up at him through the smoke, squints. “We received what now?”
“A telegram,” he says, handing her an envelope embossed with the Broken Sky logo.
She clumsily files the cigarette between her fingers and accepts the envelope. “Now how could I get a telegram when nobody knows I’m here?”
“They did not learn of your whereabouts from the hotel, I assure you.”
“Uh huh,” Allison says. “Remember when I gave you five bucks to tell me which bellboy your boss was—” and she makes the finger in hole gesture, dropping her cigarette in the process. The concierge picks it up and takes a puff.
“If you’d like,” he says, “I could throw your message in the fire. You could wonder what it said for the rest of your life.”
“You do that all the time, I bet.”
“I offer,” he says, exhaling, “but no one ever takes me up on it.”
“Those things’ll kill you,” Allison says, opening the envelope and unfolding the fragile paper inside.