A while later Carrie sat at a table at the Fruity Beanie Hut with a newspaper in her hand. She sat alone with Al, who chugged glass after glass of lemonade. He was drowning his sorrow in sugary fruit juice. Carrie scanned over the words of the article she was reading, not particularly interested in what it had to say, while occasionally taking a sip of water.

After the man won the fish, Al said that he wanted them to go back out to sea and catch another one. Unfortunately, Rachael and Sammy both said they had a formal dinner they needed to get ready for. After some thought, Al also decided that he wasn't really in the mood to go out again. So he and Carrie made their way back into town, hoping an opportunity would find them. He even brought his backpack full of videocassettes in case they happened upon a buyer.

"Oh Carrie," Al moaned, "Why does the world want me to suffer?"

"That's not true, Al," Carrie tried her best to sound chipper.

"Hey," Al slurred like a drunk as he called across the café, waving his glass in the air, "how 'bout a job, Mr. Fruity Beanie?"

"No way in hell," the portly man said as he walked by.

"Yeah that's what I thought, ya bastard," Al mumbled as he downed the rest of his drink. "Just think about it," Al said as he slammed his glass down on the table, "Is there anyone on the planet with worse luck than me?"

"Well…" The first name that came to mind was a close personal friend of Carrie's, and then came the obvious answer of countless suffering people all over the world. Al glared intensely at her. "I'm…I'm sure there are plenty of people who have it worse than you."

Al shook his head slowly, keeping his eyes fixed on Carrie. He didn't care about her response; he was more interested in the advertisement on the back of the newspaper. He pointed to it. Then he pointed out the window in the direction of the five-story hotel around the corner. Carrie followed his drift the best she could.

"Yippee!" Al yelled as he grabbed the newspaper and ran out of the café.

Normally, Carrie would have gotten up and followed. It had been a long day, however, and her body, especially her feet, was exhausted. So she remained in her seat, slowly drinking her water. Taking a little break certainly wouldn't hurt. After all, Al would just wander back after this attempt failed just like the others. Carrie cursed herself for thinking such negative thoughts.

"Yes!" Al said confidently as he stepped into the hallway of the hotel with his new light-blue collared-shirt and matching pants. He held his hands on his hips as he stared down the dimly lit, empty hallway. "Now this was the role I was…Only a real man can…A thing of beau…" The words didn't seem to come. "What the hell am I doing with my life?" Al asked himself as he shook his head, dragging a cart filled with cleaning supplies and towels across the floral-patterned carpet.

He went up to the first wooden door on the floor and knocked a couple times.

"Yo, anyone there? Housekeeping," Al announced. When it seemed that no one was in, he pulled out his keycard and unlocked the door. He cautiously stuck his head in and announced himself again. "For the love of crap; I've got to clean up after these pigs?" He trudged in and looked over the damage: messy beds, scattered clothes, empty dishes and a filthy bathroom.

"Ugh, how does Frankie clean every single day?" Al muttered, feeling the laziness setting in. "He must have some kind of masochistic tendencies. Well, I guess he just does it." Al kicked a shirt that was lying on the ground.

Al began tidying the place to the best of his abilities, mumbling to himself the entire time. "Dust, dust, dust. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Change, change, change. Scrub, scrub, scrub. This is horrible!" Al whined loudly in the center of the room.

Despite his griping, Al managed to clean the room fairly quickly and was able to move to the next one. But he realized that just doing it was not going to keep his morale up. This was going to be another bust unless he found a way to liven things up.

"Put your hands up!" Al yelled as he kicked in the door of the next room.

"Dust, dust, dust. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Change, change, change. Scrub, scrub, scrub."

"Release the prisoners!"

"Dust, dust, dust. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Change, change, change."

"Fire when ready!"

"Dust, dust, dust. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum."

"King me, suckas!"

"Dust…dust…meh. It's good enough," Al said, tossing a feather duster into the cart.

"Tits or GTFO!" Al was actually halted in the doorway. Having kicked in the door, he found himself immediately face-to-face with a shocked woman, who stared at him with saucer-like eyes from the middle of the dark hotel room. "Why hello there," Al said, happily going right up to her.

Her features softened slightly upon recognition. She crossed her arms and shifted her weight onto one foot. The woman had long black hair and dark red lips. Her shapely, well-developed body was clothed in only a lacy black bra with a silky, see-through material that hung down over her matching black panties.

"Ah, I see you've found me," she said with a teasing smirk. She didn't seem the least bit uncomfortable about being seen in such revealing clothing.

"Of course," Al said, rubbing his chin, "I've got a sixth sense when it comes to tracking down sexy ladies like you. I even surprise myself sometimes."

"Cha, cha, cha! Papa's ready for you, my darl-" A man danced out of the bathroom with nothing on, save for a pair of white briefs. Upon seeing Al, he immediately froze and walked backwards into the bathroom. He quietly closed the door.

After seeing that, Al turned quizzically back towards the woman. "Your appointment was with your grandpa?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Grandpa!" the man yelled as he threw open the bathroom door. He marched straight up to Al and began poking the slightly taller teenager in the chest. "Listen here, young man. You better have some respect for your elders."

Al puckered his lips for a second as the smell of familiarity loomed over him. "Hey, I know you!" The man was taken aback when Al jabbed a finger into his bare chest. "You're the little rat that got me fired from the porn shop!"

"Don't call someone old enough to be your father a little rat!" The man threw down his fists, causing his whole flabby body to jiggle.

"Stand back, Sexy. This man's just a sick, old pervert, the lowest scum on this Earth." Al turned around to face the woman and lowered his sunglasses so that she could see his eyes. "It's us young perverts that make the best company." She chuckled coolly.

The elderly man saw this. His face turned red with anger.

"Get out of my hotel room this instant!" He pointed towards the door.

"Fine," Al said with his nose in the air. He took the woman by the hand and led her passed the nearly-naked man.

"Oh no," the grey-haired man grabbed her other hand, forcing Al to a stop. "You're staying here."

"Ha," Al scoffed. "I won't let such a lovely flower go to waste on an old creep like you." Al lightly ran his fingers across the back of the woman's hand, as if treasuring a jewel.

"You impertinent child!" the man roared.

"Oh come on, Michael," the woman said, "He's just a kid. Relax." She had a mischievous smile on as she began running her fingers through Al's slick black hair. "In fact, maybe he'd like to join us."

"Absolutely not," both Al and the man said resolutely.

"Unless we take turns, and I get you first," Al added, smiling and pointing his thumb at himself. The woman smiled, showing off the contrast between her perfect white teeth and her dark lipstick. "You down for that, Pops?" Al asked. The woman rapped her arms around Al's shoulders and pressed her breasts into his back as she looked over his shoulders at the old man with expectant eyes.

"No way!" the man yelled, gritting his yellow teeth. "I'm not taking sloppy seconds! Don't burst into my hotel room and try to walk off with my woman, you brat!"

"Well, then," Al said as he stepped out of the woman's embrace. "It looks like there is only one way to handle this like respectable gentleman." Al raised his fists as if he were a boxer. "Loser gets the winner's leftovers."

"Fine," the man said, as he awkwardly raised his fists before his droopy body. The two began circling around the room, staring each other down and springing up and down on their toes.

"Um…excuse me," a meek voice said right as the two men prepared to deliver the first blows of their duel.

"Not now, Carrie. I'm about to teach this geezer a lesson in proper courtship," Al said, socking the man in the arm while he was staring at the girl in the doorway.

"Al…" Carrie said, the light of the hallway spilling into the dark room from behind her.

"You'll pay for that," the man said, "Hyaa!"

"…that man…" Carrie continued.

"We'll see about that," Al said, "Wakakakaka!"

"…is a senator." There was a glare on her glasses as she held up a copy of the newspaper. The headline read "U.S. Senator Tours California," and beneath it was a clear picture of the man that now stood nude before them.

"Huh?" the old man froze in place, staring at Carrie in shock. Al socked him in the face, and he fell to the ground. "Wait, I can explain!" the man said hastily after getting to his feet.

"Dude, you're a married man and you were about to score with this hotty on the pretense of doing work for the government? Nice," Al held up a fist, but the man refused to bump it.

"I can't let my constituency find out I'm having an affair," he said frantically. "It'll ruin me! I'll be disgraced and have to resign my office. I've worked my whole life to get to this position." He inhaled deeply, as if he was about to cry. "I was even going to run for president next year. I'll do anything. Just please, oh please, keep quiet about this!" The man folded his hands as he got on his knees and begged.

Al laughed at the sight.

Carrie stepped into the room, averting her eyes uncomfortably when she saw the attractive older woman in lingerie. Carrie dropped Al's backpack filled with videocassettes in front of the begging man. On each one was a recording of the cooking show she, Al and David made the previous day. She swallowed hard.

"Do you think you could buy these?" she said with very little confidence.

"What are they?" the man asked as he unzipped the backpack and took out one of the black, outdated tapes. "Movies?"

Al immediately jumped in and explained the video, highlighting its exceptional quality in content, cinematography and acting. He negotiated hard for a good price and then strong-armed the senator into buying the whole bag. Carrie didn't really want anyone to see her in the video, but it seemed like it was going to be enough to pay off Al's debt.

"Yahoo," Al cheered, cash in hand, "Come on, Carrie. Let's get out of here."

"Aw, you're leaving me," the woman in black pouted.

"Sorry, Babe; duty calls," Al said as he headed out the door, keeping his eyes on the money as if it would jump from his fingers and escape if he looked away.

"Oh, but maybe you'd like to stick around and have some fun with us." The woman placed her hands gingerly around Carrie's waist, bringing their hips together and her beautiful lips close to the high school girl's. "What do you say, Cutie?"

"S-s-sorry, I g-gotta go," Carrie stuttered as she blushed. The pigtailed girl took a step back and bowed apologetically. Then she took another step back and bowed. Then she took another step back and bowed. And by then she was in the hallway and turned to follow Al, who was already at the elevators.

The woman smiled and waved as the old, chubby man on the floor cried into his forearm.

"Hahahaha!" Al laughed as he led Carrie across the hotel lobby, after he changed out of his uniform and quit his job. He fanned himself with the cash in his hand. He suddenly stopped and went up to Carrie. Hiding his mouth behind the back of his hand, he whispered into Carrie's ear, "Don't look now, but you've got some suspicious liquid dripping out of your pants leg."

"What?" Carrie shrieked. Wide-eyed, she began scanning the ground and examining her feet.

"Yeah," Al said enthusiastically, "And it's called ge-ge-ge-genius!" He laughed wildly as Carrie blushed again. "Oh Carrie, what a pal you are; what a buddy; what a friend. You came in there and showed that punk whose boss like a beast!" Al draped his arm around Carrie's shoulder as he praised her. She smiled tiredly at Al's happiness. A man in a suit came running out of his office, effectively ending Al's rapture upon his approach.

Back in the kitchen of the beach house, David sat at the counter watching Frankie chop onions in preparation for dinner. The setting sun still cast an orange light through the window when Frankie heard the door slam loudly. Al, with a thoroughly defeated frown, stomped in and sat down on a stool at the counter. Carrie followed behind, yawning as she took a seat next to him.

"I guess things didn't work out so well, huh?" Frankie said, scooping the onions into a bowl. "Thanks for trying, though. It looks like you guys had a hard day."

Al took off his sunglasses and rubbed his eyes.

"Doors," he said grumpily. "Kicking the doors in was enough to 'damage the wood and break the locks.' What's with that cheap-ass hotel?" He groaned. "And we were so close, too."

"Well, I think you were closer than you thought," Frankie said, putting the bowl aside. He leaned against the counter and looked at Al's tired face. "You're off the hook."

"You sure?" Al wiped his forehead and crossed his arms as he rested them on the granite. "What about your damn car repairs?" Al asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Your sister called me this afternoon while I was looking for tables. She said she tried calling you, but you weren't answering." Frankie said, getting a glass and filling it with water. He passed it to Carrie, who was really sunburned and dehydrated. "She just wanted to know what you were up to. I told her you were job hunting, and she said she would cover your share of the car repair bill."

Al's head dropped so that his forehead was pressed against his arms.

"Oh c'mon man," he said quietly, "you said okay? Seriously?"

"I tried telling her that you'd handle it, but she insisted," Frankie explained. "You know Rebecca. It's impossible to argue with her; for me anyway." Al moaned. "She just wanted you to enjoy the rest of your summer vacation. Don't worry, Bud. You'll have plenty of time to thank her when we get home."

"Yeah, you're right," Al said, sounding even more depressed than before.

David looked from Al to Frankie before clearing his throat.

"Hey Al, I think there's a volleyball game going on right now," David said. "All girls; pretty hot. They're all in tiny string-bikinis. Want to go check it out?"

Al straightened up and jumped off the stool. He wrapped an arm around the slightly shorter blonde boy.

"Davey-o," Al said with a tired smile, "you always know just how to pick me up. A little strip-volleyball it is then."

"That's not really-"

"Onward my partner in crime!" He began leading David towards the back door, but stopped suddenly and turned back towards Carrie, who had fallen asleep at the counter. She snored cutely as her chin rested in a cradle made by her folded arms. He walked back behind her.

"Al, don't you dare molest her in her sleep," David said sternly.

"Chill out, Bro-Fo," Al said with a wave of his hand. He gingerly moved Carrie's pigtail, and with his nimble fingers, removed his golden earrings that she had been wearing all afternoon. He replaced them in his ears. Al smiled affectionately as he patted Carrie lightly on the head. "Thanks for everything today, C.C."

Al grabbed his sunglasses off the counter. He bared his teeth in a mischievous grin as he pushed the dark glasses up his nose with his middle finger until they were just where he liked them, low enough to look over the top, defeating the purpose of wearing sunglasses, but still making him look cool. He chuckled confidently. David gave a relieved smile as Al returned to form. The black-haired teenager then led his blonde friend out the backdoor and into the light of the setting sun.


Next Time: Well, its been fun following Al and Carrie these past few chapters, but I think it's time we got this story back on track. Does that mean we're going back to seeing Rosaline's meager attempts to find a boyfriend? The answer to that question: No.