Greg Fleniken traveled light and lived tidy. After so many years on the road, he would leave his rolling suitcase open on the floor of his hotel room and use it as a drawer. Dirty clothes went on the closet floor. Shirts he wanted to keep unwrinkled hung above. Toiletries were in the pockets of a cloth folding case that hooked onto a towel rack in the bathroom. At the end of the day he would slide off his worn brown leather boots and line them up by the suitcase, drop his faded jeans to the floor, and put on lightweight cotton pajama bottoms.
Most evenings he never left the room. He would crank up the air conditioner—he liked a cool room at night—and sit on the bed, leaning back on two pillows propped against the headboard. Considerately, to avoid soiling the bedspread, he would lay out a clean white hand towel, on which he placed his ashtray, cigarette pack, lighter, BlackBerry, the TV remote, and a candy bar. He smoked and broke off candy bits while watching TV. This is where Greg was on the evening of Wednesday, September 15, 2010, in Room 348 of the MCM Eleganté Hotel, in Beaumont, Texas—lounging, smoking, snacking on a Reese’s Crispy Crunchy bar, sipping root beer, and watching Iron Man 2.
He missed the ending.