In the early version of Landing, Chapter 10 covered the drive the Fox family takes to Phoenix, Gabe’s crazy James Bond story, scoping out a wrestling facility, checking into the hotel, planning for the mission the next day, Maya and Gabe getting ready for bed, Gabe telling Maya a story from the past, and Maya staying up as Tarren suffers from a nightmare in the room next door.
Needless to say, the chapter was loooooooong, epically long, and there was little action. I ended up having to take a bushwhacker to it. A lot of material ended up on the cutting room floor, including Gabe’s James Bond story and this short scene of Maya and Gabe checking into the hotel. In many ways, Gabe is Maya’s salvation. When he teases her, she knows that she is loved and accepted. This scene underscores that relationship and how much Maya depends on Gabe for the sense of family he represents.
After an hour, Tarren drops us off at a motel and goes to get food.
I don’t like the place immediately. A vending machine outside the office emits a high-pitched whine that caresses my brain with the tender touch of an ice pick. We enter the office via a screen door filled with dead flies, and the fat guy at the front desk finishes goggling a Playboy photo spread before looking up at us.
Gabe proffers his fake ID and signs us in as the guy runs his prepaid credit card. I look over Gabe’s shoulder.
“My name is Mercedes Dantes,” I hiss at him.
“Nah, I’m pretty sure you told me it was Buffy.”
“I told you that I’d turn your rabbit into stew if you ever called me that again.”
The guy turns around and hands Gabe back his card.
“This is my sister Buffy,” Gabe announces loudly. “She thinks you’re hot. Can she have your number?”
“Uh?” The guy looks at us. “Is that, like, a joke?” His energy field is slow like molasses, like how Gabe’s gets when he’s been smoking pot.
“Yes, most definitely a joke.” I grab our bags and go outside.
Gabe earns a hard punch in the arm as soon as we’re alone in the first room. He yowls about it until Tarren gets back with the food. Then all is forgotten in the flurry of sandwich wrappers and ketchup packets.