Chapter 5: Motel 666…

***DISCLAIMER***  I hate using that number combination in any circumstance.  Even the thought of it gives me the hibbie jibbies.  However, to remain true to my literary integrity, our experience must be described as such…

 

 

“America’s Best Value Inn: Free Hot Breakfast with Every Stay!”

It was the latest in a string of billboards looked upon with our dreary eyes, further shaming us on our drive away from Rock Springs that Sunday morning.

“Almost Home, Come Stay with us,” read the signs for Little America plastered across the interstate, of which a wrong turn onto I-80 West deepened the ignominy of our punishment; one wrong turn to double the amount of signs, staring down at us in full mockery over our brash decision.  “Little America, Didn’t we stop there last night?” asked Bill.  I just shook my head; another harsh reminder of a paradise lost, all in the name of frugality.

The beatings continued.  Days Inn, Comfort Inn and Suites, La Quinta Inn, Holiday Inn… each one with its own picture of a family in all smiles, partaking in some exciting hotel activity: lounging in the hot tub, playing in the pool, watching a thrilling show on the flat screen TV—they were relentless!  And they went on…

The evidence was stacked against us, our mistake obvious.  I knew it, Bill knew it—hell, even Gretch somehow knew it, and God knows she wasn’t going to let it down!

The worst though, was that they knew.  They all knew, their billboards unceasing with disgrace in order to make their points loud and clear.  We were to pay for our ignorance, our decision to stay at Motel 6 for a long, long, tim—

“KOA Campgrounds.  FREE WIFI!”

“Oh come… freaking… on…”

***

All of the warning signs were there, slapping us across the face the moment we walked in.  The wait staff was hesitant to serve; the patrons quick to eye us upon entry, an innate sense inside of them suggesting that we were indeed not from around here.  Our presence wasn’t the least bit welcome, like we were a couple of nerds setting foot in the roadside bar of a notorious motorcycle gang.  But of course, in typical, Hollywood fashion, common sense was ignored.

We wasted no time making our way into the bar section of Applebee’s upon our arrival the evening before.  It had been nearly a full day since the last time we tasted a brew, and we certainly deserved one, especially after such a long day.

“Howdy miss, I’ll take a tanker of your finest beer!” I told the waitress, my personality strangely chipper for the late hour.

“I’ll do the same,” said Bill.

“Okay.  Two Blue Moons coming right up.”

As soon as the beers arrived, our orders were placed.  Much like our beer drought, we had been without solid sustenance since we feasted on a half-cooked pizza from lunch, and if either of us knew anything, it was that a large variety of battered cheese and deep fried vegetables was required if we were to remain functional.  We ordered accordingly.

“Hey, I recognize this song!” I shouted as if I was a man of the cloth, professing the word of God on the street corner.  “Isn’t this the superman song?”

“Kryptonite I think, by Three Doors Down, except I can’t really tell.  All those bands start to sound the same after a while.”

“Haha, true!” I replied before taking a good sip of beer and peering out into the background of the Applebee’s dining area.  “Man… this takes me back to the year 2000.  What an awesomely horrible time for rock and roll.”  Bill and I shared a chuckle, and then a good swig of beer.

“Oh God, I can’t believe I actually liked some of those bands.  Creed especially.”

“What do you mean used to?  I still do!”  Bill laughed while I readied myself for my best Creed impersonation.  “Hold me naaaahaaa.  I’m six feyt frum di edg— an I’m thinkinn—an,” I sang, my voice deep, raspy, and barely comprehensible.  Both Bill and I broke out in a solid laugh, and again we took a good sip from our tankers as Three Doors down faded and a new song emerged through the restaurant.  “Wait, they aren’t—this can’t be…”

“…I think it is…”

“Freaking Nickelback???”

“Yep, I think we’ve officially reached the epitome of suck!”

“Ha!  God, it’s like we just so happen to stumble into the central hub for awful music.”

“No wonder Gretch likes Applebee’s so much!”

Mysteriously, Bill stopped mid-laugh and looked to the side, taking a large sip of beer with him.  “Hmm, that’s weird,” I thought to myself.  I brushed it off and continued with the banter.  “Oh man, that reminds me of this one time, my sister and I were visiting relatives and Nickelback came on the radio when we were on our way to pick up some Hardee’s for breakfast.”  I couldn’t help but chuckle during my own joke.  Bill remained quiet.  “Hmm, guess I’ll have to just be a little funnier then.  So anyway, that one song comes on, you know, ‘…The women come easy and the drugs dirt-cheap… and I wanna be a rock star…’ you remember?  Bill..?”  Bill shrugged his shoulders, barely a sign that he was half-attentive before looking off to the side again.  “…I mean, it was probably one of their worst songs, but she’s just belting it out, bobbing her head, getting into it, singin’ with so much passion!”  Bill gave me a quick glance and motioned his finger quickly across his throat in a peculiar way.  “What’s his major malfunction?  Man, she was looking like a big ol’ dork, thinking she was all cool cause that’s what all the kids were listening to at school.  You know, all the hicks and stuff, listening to total crap…  Bill, are you even listening?”

“…Oh… sorry, I was just—hey, check out the TV behind you.”  I turned my body to witness a bunch of basketball bloopers playing.

“So what? It’s the same thing that’s on the other TV.”

“…No, the one right behind you…”  Bill’s voice was much quieter this time, his nod more dramatic, not even making eye contact.

A glimpse was all I needed.  He was staring at me, a rough around the edges type of fellow, looking as though he had just come off a 16-hour bender at the oil refinery, most likely with the help of a few hits of meth.  He sustained a cold hard stare, and I’m not talking about the “I can’t keep my eyes off you,” type of stare—that I can handle.  It was more of an “I’m about to slit your G-D throat” type, enough for Bill and I to refrain from any sort of Nickelback jokes for the rest of the night, or even conversation for that matter.

“Here you guys go, mozzarella cheese sticks, beer battered onion rings, french fries, a patty melt, and a triple beef sandwich.”  The pace she set each item down on the table created a litany of tension, unbeknownst to her.  “Is there anything else I can get you?  Another beer maybe?”

“Just the check please.  ASAP!”

***

Our exit from Applebee’s was cautious and cryptic, taking every precaution to avoid a potential stabbing.  Neither one of us dared to take another look at the meth head; even the slightest indication of eye contact could induce agitation, and I for one wasn’t willing to find out the results.  And at 12%, we made sure our tip was above and beyond modest; no need to cause overt objection from the waitress.

“Dude, why are you running?” asked Bill.

“I’m not running, I’m just walking briskly.  Why are you running?”

“I’m running because you’re running.”

“Well it’s kind of cold out, and I’m only in a tank top!”

“Then let’s get to the car, quick!”

It was an all-out sprint the rest of the way and a swift entrance into the car, both of us scrambling to shut our doors and click our seatbelts in a timeliest fashion.  “Why are you changing the music?” asked Bill.

“I don’t know?  We listened to this album a bunch already.”

“Who cares?  We’ll change it later, just go!”

“Why, did you see that meth dude?”

“You mean the one who loved Nickelback?”

“Yea, that guy.”

“…No, I didn’t, did you?”

“He wasn’t at the table when we left… or was he?”

“I don’t know—oh no!”

“What if he follows us?  What are we going to do?  He might kill us—“

“Wait.  What was that?”

“What was what?”

“Didn’t you hear that?”

“I don’t think… unless—you mean… that?”

“GO!”  His words set an ignition, off into the desolation that was the industrial district of Rock Springs, which strangely seemed to expand across the full length of the town.

“Boy, there sure are a lot of semi’s around,” I mentioned to Bill.

“Yea, it’s like the whole town’s one dusty truck stop…”

“Weird…”

“…I know…”

***

Our search for the ideal hotel was much more scrupulous than originally planned.  It was imperative that we find a lodging establishment that had a fair rate without sacrificing standard of quality, criteria that seemed to be quite discriminatory in the Wyoming trucker’s hub.  Lucky for us, the selection turned out to be rather plentiful, considering the size of Rock Springs.  “They must expect visitors like us passing through often.  It’s a wonder why they aren’t as friendly towards them.”

The Hampton Inn: our first prospect.  Always a decent stay, and in fact, one of my favorite hotel chains.  But their treasured amenities, usually consisting of a workout room, hot breakfast and pool would not be taken advantage of at this hour of the night, nor in the morning before our next leg of the journey.  Thus, the $136 price tag was out of our range.   We continued on.

Quality Inn, $79.99 a night. “They have quality written in the name…”

“Yea, but we can do better,” I suggested.  Bill acquiesced.

Days Inn: 74.99.  “Let’s keep going.”

Econolodge: $69.99.  Super 8 Motel: $64.99.

“Let’s try one more spot.”  There was something even better out there, there had to be.  I had a good feeling about it.

“What about quality?”  We’re sort of bottom feeding now, aren’t we?”

“This is America we’re talkin’ about man!  Everything is quality!  It’s not like we’re some third world country, like Detroit or something.”

“I heard they don’t even have an Applebee’s there.”

“God, it must be horrible—“

Motel 6: 59.99 per night. “DING DING DING!  I think we have a winner!”

The Benz was to be sent into hibernation for the night in the scarcely populated parking lot of the Motel 6.  Bill and I sat in solitude, settled by the still darkness surrounding us.  “You realize once we do this, there’s no turning back, right?”

Bill thought long and hard for a few seconds.  He knew, as did I that a no-go decision would result in further contemplation, and to the weary traveler, an extra ten minutes of hotel searches can seem like an eternity.  He nodded his head in concurrence.  “Let’s do this.”

We passed through the lobby, a narrow hallway consisting of tiled flooring in need of a decent mopping, three vending machines, an ice machine, and the exhaust of an air conditioning unit strategically placed to turn the room into a makeshift sauna, of which I’m sure they shamelessly advertised on the brochure. “Ding,” rang the front desk bell, followed by five more before catching the attention of the concierge, a middle-aged lady, hair greased and shirt stained with two heavy bags under her eyes.  Clearly, you could tell that she took pride in your work.

“Welcome to the Motel 6,” she muttered behind a heavy yawn, her breath reeking of fresh tobacco.  “Smoking and non-smoking available.  Single is 59.99 a night, double is 64.99.  Parking is any available spot near your room.  Coffee is available from 5 AM to 10 AM in the lobby…”

Free coffee?  What a deal!”  Her monotonous tone gave us the indication that she had repeated those words several times; a phrase memorized many long shifts ago.  Bill shared the same look as I, trying to play it off as if we were expecting this type of behavior.  I knew Bill however, and Bill knew me, and I knew that he knew that I was just as disgusted as he was.  He would never express it though, not publicly anyway.  Neither would I.

“Yes, we’d like a room for the night,” I said to the lady in a casual manner.  “Double please.”

“I need a driver’s license and a credit card.”  No enthusiasm was displayed in her response.  I pulled out my wallet, my mind and body pulling on opposite sides of the hesitancy spectrum.  “This is a bad idea… this is a really bad idea…”  Similar words ran several times through my head to stop the pull of my hand across the counter.

“Is it possible to split the bill onto two credit cards?” asked Bill, a noble attempt to show courtesy.  A heavy sigh left her mouth, sending a heavy gust of a stale, cigarette aroma directly into my face.

“Well, technically yes, but it’s a pain in the butt.”

“Uhh…” Bill shifted his eyes and face, unsure of how to appease both my pocket book and the lady’s cryptic desires that translated into shear laziness.  “…I mean, is there a cash machine—“

“No worries Bill.  I got tonight,” I jumped in, an extra $30 dollars well worth foregoing the trouble of dealing with a less than competent hotel worker.

“Ok, you guys are in room 217.  Exit the lobby and take a right.  Walk all the way down to the end of the building and up the stairs,” she told us before handing us the keys.  It wasn’t until after the exchange where the thought of identity theft crossed my mind.

***

“Dear God,” cried Bill as we walked into the room, a sub-conscious reaction to a dire realization… it was an actual possibility that we were standing at the gates of Hell.

A discharge of AC cranked all the way up to full blast pumped out a high volumetric flow rate of air equivalent to the temperature of the room—roughly 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the outside temperature.  “…I think the air conditioner’s broken…” I blurted.  If Bill were a lesser man, he would’ve shamed me in a mocking tone for making such an obvious observation.  Or perhaps he was still in utter disbelief over the decrepit conditions, so much as to keep him from mentioning another word for the time being.  Whatever the presumed motive for his sustained silence was, it couldn’t deter me from my own, prompted by our “less than ideal” situation.  “Might as well make the best out of this…” It would be the first of many attempts.

I threw an innocent shrug at Bill and turned my attention towards the TV, leaving him to toy with the AC unit all by himself.  Nothing but static filled the black box, a full 20 inches of CRT wonder.  I probably shouldn’t have expected anything more from such an antique, a purchase made during the hotel’s grand opening circa 1990.  After a few technical adjustments, techniques that spawned from years of fine-tuning the settings on my Sega Genesis and Nintendo Entertainment Systems, the static settled on a local station airing a title belt bout of two professional wrestlers from a small, Midwestern market.  “I can work with this,” I thought to myself, satisfying my strange penchant towards watching grown men in tight spandex pound on each other in the middle of a ring.

The commentators went on and on about these guys like they’ve been studying their styles for years.  “…He’s such a technical wrestler, he can just pin you with so many different maneuvers…”

“Man, what kind of crap are these guys spewing?  None this guy’s moves are even working.”  The commentators kept going on and on though, as if everybody watching knew as much as they did about the two wrestlers in the ring.  And what’s worse, they expected us to take their opinions seriously.  “What a bunch of turkeys!”

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen my fair share of bad wrestling (see Bremerton Wrestling Blog), and these guys weren’t half bad, but let’s be honest, they were no John Cena.  But perhaps past my annoyance of a couple dingus commentators was the real story, a true underdog, presented right in front of us, the real reason to watch.  He wanted it so bad, a technical wrestler up against a titan whose skills were beyond his in every asset.  Yet, he pressed on, maneuver after maneuver with the heart of a lion, a Rocky like determination in real time, each attempted pin reaching closer to the three count needed to secure victory.  His opponent was wearing down beyond recovery, his body woozy and his head spinning.  This belt was his, and he was going to fight for it, no matter what it took.  Nothing could stop him, nothing could disrupt his spirit.  There was no way he was going to lose, barring an absolute miracle—

“Oh my—reversal—he’s setting him up for a powerbomb—Oh my God!  What a devastating finisher!” The commentators screamed, their excitement overly exaggerated just to piss me off.  Wait, what the hell just happened—

“One, two, three!”

“Ah, screw this!”  I shut the TV off, hoping to make a slamming of the door effect, or at least as much as I could with a firm depression of the power button.  I couldn’t believe it.  “It was like the guy was faking the whole time!  Both of them!  15 minutes of my life wasted!”  I retired my desire to watch wrestling that night, a little bit sweatier, and a little bit wiser.

“Well, I’m gonna grab a couple of Gatorades.  Do you have any change?”  It was a trick question.  I’d heard Bill’s hands rifling through his pockets mere moments before to empty its contents, trying to act as though he didn’t care for the sport of professional wrestling.  “Too bad.  His ignorance is no match for my keen senses.”

Bill stuck his hand in his pocket unwittingly as if he didn’t know what to expect.  “Uh… let me see…” His fist bulged out of his jeans, jerking about and trying to force out a pocket full of gold like it was trying to give birth.  “I think I may have some change—“

A swoop of an open fist shot out, followed by a sudden gasp of muggy air, an honest reaction before a clattering of metal hit the ground.  Bill’s eyes followed the path of coins as they dropped, rolling on an inevitable path under the bed well beyond our line of sight, deeper into the mystery that was underneath.  Bill stared at me, sending me a solid look of apprehension well beyond the moment the rolling actually stopped.  “Well, what are you waiting for?”  It was his change for cryin’ out loud!

It was a slow and hesitant maneuver, but Bill eventually found the courage to lower himself down to the floor and positioned his head under the bed.  One second later, the head whipped back up and Bill was back on his feet.  There was no emotion, no sense of panic.  He looked at me, shaking his head, his brow creased, squeezing the beads of sweat from his forehead and onto the floor.  “Nope.”

“It can’t be that bad,” I teased and jumped down to take a look myself. “There was at least $1.25 in cold hard cash!”

My hand pressed below the mattress, sinking into a mixture of dust and crumbled foam at least an inch thick.  I slowly turned my head and stared in horror.  There was a large build-up of debris adhered to my hand from the bond of sweat coating it.  “Don’t do it… don’t even…” The phrase ran through my mind over and over, an attempt to keep my eyes from wandering farther into the abyss.  But the feeling was too much to overcome.  It beckoned me, closer towards the disaster that laid ahead.  I had to look, that repulsive curiosity overcoming, much like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s when he wanted to watch the tape of Anakin slicing all those Jedi kids in half.

I suppose in the minds of some, it could be considered a gold mine, though I’ve yet to meet the bum with so little self-respect to subject himself through such degradation.  There were coins, lots of them… among other things, both legal and illegal; ancient artifacts from the early days of the hotel’s erection.  My eyes darted from piece to piece, all covered in a coat of dust, much like an old Egyptian tomb that had been freshly rediscovered after 1,000’s of years of dormancy, with Bill’s $1.25 being the latest of donations to the museum.  Among the exhibits were candy bar wrappers, food particles, playing cards, jewelry, keys, bottle caps, needles, and various other fluids, stains and items that… uh… let’s just say I find in the best interest of the reader to omit; items left over a span of years, decades perhaps, their owners coming to the same realization as us.  One: the motel’s policy to clean underneath the beds had either never been implemented or was non-existent.  Two, retrieving one’s items, no matter how precious and sentimental, wasn’t worth the risk of contracting a venereal disease, and with one simple look, I had become induced with a sudden urge to cleanse myself over fear of terminal illness.

In reality, I had been looking forward to such a cleansing the moment we woke up in Shaun’s apartment, as the 40’s we downed the night before still reared their ugly heads.  Besides, with a long day of hiking, driving, and going to the bathroom over and over again driving the desire for a warm shower, the catastrophe under the bed served as icing on the cake.

For a moment, as I felt the lukewarm water spray over my hands before it fell onto the yellow-stained porcelain, I was able to overlook the hotel’s deficiencies through the prospect of a thorough shower awaiting me, something I hadn’t had since Boise.  I stepped in and let the water pour over my head, choosing ignorance over the potential dangers of fouled water, knowing that the bar of soap graciously provided by the motel would work to eliminate most bacteria from the source, as long as every square inch of my body was covered.  I ran my hands through my hair, dried and sticky from a punishing two full days of heat and sweat, and I reached for the shampoo— “Wait a minute, where the hell…?”  The curtain swung open and my head turned back and forth in a frantic search for a means to wash my hair; to the counter, to the sink, to the floor, back to the shower, again to the counter, to the sink… “Son of a B!”

Upon suffering yet another disappointment, I exited out of the shower, the blistering heat proving that the time spent cleansing myself was simply a giant waste.  Bill stared emotionless at the moving image of two grown men dressed in tights, grabbing at each other in different positions with a river of sweat flowing down his shaking head.  In an unprecedented move, Bill had sunk to a new level of deplorability by turning the TV back on, but not even the male fondness for professional wrestling could shake the current heat index of our room. “Something’s got to give.”  I took his marching orders with full seriousness by letting Bill lead the way back to the front desk.

We stormed in with a mission in hand, having soaked in the cool 80-degree air as much as possible before walking through the Sauna to confront the gatekeeper once more.  This couldn’t stand. We deserved better… much better, especially for 60 bucks!  “What’s the deal?” asked Bill.

“Well, the air conditioner either works, or it doesn’t,” she told us, her eyes drooping ever more slightly, having added another coating of sweat and cigarettes to her scent since our last meeting.

“What do you mean?” asked Bill, baffled at her response.

“I mean, it either pumps out hot or cold. We can’t control which one. We’ve been having problems since February.” February… well, great. That would’ve been good to know ahead of time.

“Do you have any fans we can use?”

“Not tonight.  There aren’t any more fans left.”  Bill and I looked at each other in disbelief.  There was no doubt in our minds that she just pulled that out of her ass, though neither of us had the audacity to call her out on it.  The longer we lingered amongst her presence, the more we feared that our stay could turn an even darker shade of gray with the wrong phrase mentioned.  And the longer I thought about it, the thought that the motel’s deficient customer service record coupled with an overwhelming amount of disgruntled customers requesting fans for their rooms, so much that they had run out of supply seemed not only logical, but plausible.  And even if their supply was only one fan, technically she wasn’t lying to us.  “But sometimes, if you leave the window open, you can catch a nice draft…” Oh boy, a draft. That’s exactly what we want, a wide open window in the sketchy side of town, where Rock Spring’s finest have free rein to murder us in our sleep and take all of our stuff.  At least we have a draft though… too bad there isn’t any wind!

There was much disappointment in our lowered faces, one that siphoned down through our shuffle back to our room.  At the top of the concrete stair case outside our room, I took one final look back at the desolate cityscape that was Rock Springs, Wyoming.  Out in the distance, a shining light illuminated across a hill, just like the beacon of hope that Ronald Reagan was always so fond of.  It was so beautiful, so precious, and so close, yet so far away… There it stood, the Comfort Inn in all her glory, her patrons sleeping comfortably in their soft bed and air-conditioned room like the name suggested, equipped with shampoo and conditioner, and most likely a flat screen TV.  It was the girl of my dreams, the same one once within my grasp, but let go; and for what? A measly 15 bucks? I moped back to into our designated unit of the communist compound, for I couldn’t stand the sight of her, a shattered dream I gave up… one I’d never get back…

“Looks like we’re gonna need some of those Rockstars for tomorrow,” said Bill in passing before fiddling with window, seriously contemplating the advice the lady at the front desk gave us.

“Yea, too bad they’ve been sweltering in the back of the car…” My words faded and my body froze, my head cocked mid-turn.  A white, plastic bucket, originally gone unnoticed during our initial battle with heat exhaustion sat next to the TV unattended, its sole purpose to hold modest portions of ice.  Grandiose ideas flickered through my head, spinning and filtering from the very moment my eyes caught sight of the bucket.  “Wait a minute… we wake up by 8… 9 perhaps.  Ok, probably 7 with this heat.  I fill the bucket full of ice and put a Rockstar in there.  At this temperature, the ice will surely turn to a puddle of water by the time I wake, leaving the Rockstar chilled and condensating upon daybreak…  But there’s only room for one… Screw it, Bill can fend for himself…  An ice-cold Rockstar the moment I wake up, smooth consumption waiting for me, pouring all the way down my throat, soothing my esophagus on its way down, that blissful taste of sugar and chemical agents and… Oh… my… God…”

I snatched the bucket and headed down to brave the sweltering temperatures of the lobby one last time, now with a skip in my step having just received second life, life that was further replenished with the miraculous discovery of a fully operational ice machine.  Hope remained, if not but for a small glimmer within the few remaining hours of night.  Within the clutches of disappointment comes the potential for wisdom, even if it was at the expense of a good night’s sleep.

Many thoughts circulated through my mind that night as I laid in bed.  Was it the inadequate thread count of the sheets that kept me awake?  The steady development of rashes across my skin surely could’ve been a contributing factor.  Of course we were under constant threat of our Nickelback loving friend coming in and murdering us, as Bill decided it was best that he sleep next to a wide-open window.  The risk of suffering a heat stroke greatly outweighed the chance of any Nickelback loving meth addict snatching him through the window and performing terrible acts of cruelty.  If he were to come, I’d at least have a few seconds to plot my escape before he had a chance to come after me.  Bill, unfortunately, was doomed sitting in his current position.  It’s a wonder how he found the will to sleep with a surefire death sentence laying over his head.

And the evil pact I made to get passed the Tetons, all the rage and carnage brought about and consequences that followed, leading us to this God-forsaken place.  Man, the mind really is capable of doing dangerous things when Pink Floyd’s blasting in the car…  Was this really God’s way of punishing us for our actions? It couldn’t have been, for it was what we asked for—well, what I asked for… Bill was just a victim. I couldn’t understand how one person could be so forgiving, especially after putting him through an out of body experience and a night in Hell.  Lord only knows how Jesus did it for three.

Anticipation became the ultimate insomniac in the end.  My eyes periodically drifted over at my Rockstar, with small pebbles of water beads forming on the outside edge of the plastic ice bucket.  It was soon to be mine… all mine.  Only a few hours separated us.  I laid in that bed, under the ambience of stale air and passing traffic, thinking of the moment that liquid mixture touched my taste buds.  The harder I thought, the longer it would be, reliving my past childhood like I was awaiting the plunder of wrapped gifts on Christmas Day.  Out of all the madness and cruelty of such an abominable place, justice still existed, if only under the mercy of God.  I thought and looked forward to the moment, until the thoughts overcame the heat index, threat of death, itchy bed, and all other forms of stress, and I drifted into a soft slumber.

***

I rose from the bed the next morning, leaving several damp ovals where my body had once made contact across the sheets.  Nestled in the crook of the bed across from me lay Bill, his mouth hung open and eyes sealed shut as if he’d been shot with a tranquilizer gun.  Apparently, he had forgotten all about Nickelback man.  Either that or he killed him, so quickly and quietly that I hadn’t had time to notice.  Whether Bill was actually alive or not was the least of my concerns however; much more prudent engagements were on my mind.

The blurry image of a white cylinder pulsed next to a square, black box, images that slowly came into better focus with each hard swipe across my eyelids.  There was a prize in there, waiting for me, something incredible and tasty, a refreshing treat that had the ability to both quench my thirst and rejuvenate my dreary senses.  I rose and hobbled over to it, smiling, eager, ready for consumption.  It was so close, I could feel it’s cool touch radiating from the chilled water that had been left—wait a minute, where’s the water—why is the can still warm?

The horrible feeling of an uncontrollable sweat excreting from my pores reared itself back into reality as my hand clasped around a warm can.  What… in the hell… is going on—the cauldron of rage inside of me turned my head a darker shade of red as my next step soaked my foot in a puddle of water next to the dresser; a head already boiling from overexposure inside an insufferable oven.  Only a few explanations existed for this phenomenon, and with one phrase, I was about to eliminate most of them.  “BILL..?!”

Silence.  Complete silence.  Unconsciousness?  Ignorance?  Death…?  Murder?  Great.  One more stupid thing I have to deal with…”  Purely just another annoyance at this point.

I examined the room, looking for signs of intrusion, anything set out of place, anything out of the ordinary.  Hell, at this point, I’m not ruling anything out.  My head shifted and my body jerked about, desperate for reason.  This was all a complete joke, brilliantly executed by Bill—it had to be.  My ice cold Rockstar is hidden somewhere in this room.  He’s just faking he’s dead, that’s all… Well, he better quit faking pretty soon, cause all this faking is really starting to piss me off— My eyes glossed over the bucket and I froze, my explanation finally revealed.  The bottom had been punctured the whole time, long before we had arrived.  “Son of a B—”

“Huh?” said Bill, conveniently waiting after the onslaught of curses to lift his head and speak.  How could one motel in one town be the source of so much inhumanity?  What kind of evil must exist to produce such a perturbed establishment?  Why must we be subjected to such punishment?  Why God… why?

“Let’s just get the hell out of here…  As fast as we can.”  They were the only decent words I could muster without the use further foul language.

***

Miserable is being a meth addict living in Rock Springs.  Miserable is calling Nickelback your favorite band.  Miserable is consciously choosing to watch professional wrestling on TV to pass the time (I’m talking the small stuff, not WWE, which is actually pretty awesome).  The Motel 6 in Rock Springs was not miserable, it was not that ineffable feeling that was but a few short steps from a total anathema; it was something much worse.  Our drive out of town that morning wasn’t far off its mark.

We watched with humiliation as each hotel’s billboard sign pass, promoting total elation and rubbing it in our faces, brutal tools that facilitated the complete evaporation of our passion of life into the dry and rugged Wyoming landscape we had once adored.  Their words gradually faded into obscurity, a bully’s perpetual pounding, voiding us of any further feeling, and coldly accepting submission.

On the edge of town, though barely legible through my blurry vision and lack of my daily morning Rockstar, the message from the final billboard struck past my peripherals, reading loud and clear across a backdrop of a large 6…

Thank you for visiting Rock Springs, suckers!  Don’t come back… EVER!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s