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Igor had been on audit for the last eight months, after the new owner bought this property from the Patels. It was a cash cow, because people wouldn't dare use credit cards and document their stay here- either that, or they lived there for months at a time and got a cash discount. The government only found out about maybe, maybe 20% of the rental activity here. How do you prove a room was occupied? They didn't even have key cards. No fucking way.

Naturally Igor was paid under the table. He had to be. His presence in America was legal, but him working wasn't. He could be trusted to account for all the hotels receipts-actual receipts-and make the requisite transfers to the owner in the old country. He wasn't paid nearly enough. It's hard to find people with integrity when your venture is illicit. Plus the shit he had to deal with.

It was 0030, and Igor was settling into his desk. Going over the books-both of them- and writing emails to the owner. Invoicing social services-some of the few receipts upon which taxes would be paid. It was uninteresting. It took about an hour. Igor took his mind off it for a minute, and ruffled through the cabinets. He found a jar of instant coffee-aha! a pack with two USA Menthol 100's left. He was more of a Marlboro Man, but a cigarette was a cigarette at this point.

He heard the lobby buzzer go off. He was about to put out his cigarette when he looked at the closed circuit monitor and realized it was the police. He walked out to the front desk with the cigarette still burning in his hand.

"Igor," one of the officers said, and set a picture on the desk, "Lewis".

"I'm sorry," said Igor. "I cannot confirm nor deny any reservations. Our guest's information is confidential." Igor was holding up four fingers. The officers nodded and proceeded out of the lobby, to go check on room four. Half an hour later they hauled Lewis' ass away.

Igor went to room four with some boxes to pack Lewis' shit for when he came back. He would not be welcome to extend his stay. He went into room four, and said fuck in his native language. Propane tanks. Fire extinguishers. A bunch of useless shit-laptops taken apart, smashed cell phones. Bicycle parts. The special cleaning company would need to be called, the room could not be sold for at least a week, and his boss would not be pleased. The profits for today and tomorrow were gone, thanks to Lewis. Igor snapped pictures with his cell phone, even though he was trusted enough.

He locked the room. Now he just had to do his best to keep this quiet. The police wouldn't blab as a courtesy to Igor, but things get around in such a small town. That's when a car pulled in.

1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. Flat tire. Mother, late twenties, little boy, about four. Igor told her to wait, without asking any questions. He went into the office and got out the Maglight and took the last of the cigarettes. He then looked at the tire's size and went behind the hotel. For some reason the Patel's kept shit back there-old appliances and auto parts left behind by the Lewis' and other losers. There were a couple tires. He found one, on a rim.

"Honey," said Igor to the woman. He managed to call her honey without sounding like a pervert at all, the way only men with foreign accents can. "This here is not exactly the same size. Its close enough, better than a donut. And it doesn't have much tread left either. Replace it with a real one as soon as you can. If you can't afford one immediately, its probably good for a month or so."

Igor replaced the tire and sent the woman on her way, knowing good and well that she would get all she could out of that tire.

At 0600, it was time for the wake up. The county housed paroled sex offenders here. They were not to be at the hotel after 0600; they were to seek employment. Igor didn't have to take it upon himself to wake them, but he didn't want them around, sitting on collapsible chairs outside their rooms, 40's in paper bags, smoking cigarettes, cursing. He knocked on the door, then made entry with his key. "Sorry sir, you must leave." "I'm mad tired, be cool." Igor's demeanor changed. "Hey, kidtoucher, get the fuck off my property." Same thing at all 11 of the rooms.

Igor's relief arrived at 0710. He put the money in two piles, one being him paying himself. He then walked to the gas station. For the bigger pile, Western Union got what they charged and his boss got the rest. For the smaller, the same, with his wife in the old country as the beneficiary.

Two more months, thought Igor. He bought a stale croissant and a cup of tea, went back to the hotel, and went to bed hungry.

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