Sharad LeMaster ran away from his own cult, and tried to hide from his followers by taking a desk job in a motel in the middle of nowhere, but when a certain lazy ghost from his past reappears, Sharad is lured into a haunted house and becomes the proud possession of the witch Eugenia, and gets caught between rival black market magic potion dealers in their fight over a girl who just happens to possess the most perfect skull ever destined to become a shrunken head.
Roland was never without his radio. Switching back and forth between salsa and contemporary rock, Roland's little radio went everywhere he went. You always knew when he was around. Even now, in the middle of the night, as he set about his work cleaning up the motel kitchen, the radio sat like a flightless canary on a nearby shelf, twittering above the faucet, the songs pouring through and around him like the water he used to wash dishes. Every so often he'd pause to change the station, from the one to the other, and a few minutes later, back again.
Josefa was a fan of silence at night. She would have preferred no music at all. The old woman came and went throughout the evening, always busy with a chore, never stopping to rest. In any ways, the motel was her own.
Although she only worked there, she knew everything about it. The little buildings were like her children; untidy, wild and in need of constant maintenance. Hadn't she seen a lot in her time? It was Roland who wanted to know, who kept asking her to stop and stay awhile and tell him stories. It was Roland who flashed her that smile, that friendly face, wily in the ways of the world, that tempted her to slow her chugging train.
'Oh, I could tell you', she'd reply, leaning for a moment on her mop, but always, 'later. The work is never done'.
'Of course' said Roland, 'the work comes first, and then?', he suggested. 'We could talk?'.
Josefa eventually agreed and pushed her buckets down the hall. Roland hummed along with every song as he worked, though it was his own that he was singing, all mixed up, whatever tune he felt to whistle or sing on top of whatever happened to be playing. Dishes needing to be washed and dried, counters to be cleaned, floors swept and all things put away. By the time Josefa returned, the kitchen was sparkling and neat and even quiet. He'd turned the radio off for once. She glanced around, approving. Roland, though new, was a good one, she thought, and so she offered him her smile, and offered to make some tea, but he'd already made some, and just the kind she liked, and so she sat, for once, and let him wait on her.
'So', she began. 'Where to start?'
'Anywhere', he replied, while gathering cups and saucers and a bit of dessert he'd saved from dinner, a German chocolate cake, enough for two.
'Anywhere is nowhere', she countered, and Roland smiled. She would need some prodding.
'Then tell me about David Morales', he said, and Josefa looked up, surprised. How could this man know about that already? she wondered. The queen of gossip was not used to being scooped, but a shrug and a crooked smile from Roland put her back at ease, and it was an old story anyway. Anybody might have told him.
'Do you believe in ghosts?' Josefa wanted to know, and Roland nodded and grinned.