Early Friday morning James Wilson rolled up to the Lhasa Shangri-La in his 4WD Jeep Wrangler. The day was crystal clear and bitter cold. James’ greeting to the doorman took physical form as his breath turned to ice. The weather forecast showed a storm moving in, but it was slow and wouldn’t hit the area until later that night. Brig had chosen his departure time well.
Inside Brig was settling his hotel bill with cash. He was burning through the remaining renminbi, but what did he care? As far as he was concerned, he only needed enough money to cover his expenses for the next three days, and he still hadn’t touched the U.S dollars. Whatever money he had left he would leave for James, and perhaps a small amount in his backpack for the person who would find his body.
As Brig walked out of the lobby and towards the Jeep, James observed that he was still, excruciatingly thin, but today there was a bounce in his step and color in his face.
“Your hearse awaits,” James announced from the driver’s seat.
Brig shook his head, “That’s not funny,” but chuckled nonetheless. Either Brig had finally convinced James that he really wasn’t going to kill himself, or James was being uncharacteristically insensitive. Brig knew it was the former and threw his new lime green Ortovox backpack next to James’ gear in the back seat of the jeep and climbed into the passenger’s seat.
“Are you ready?” James asked.
“As I’ll ever be!” Brig conjured his best James T. Kirk impression and commanded James to “Engage!” but The Star Trek reference was lost on the Kiwi.