The blinking neon sign should have been a warning. Then the room number—pure bad luck. And the night clerk’s goatee, Jesus. You needed gas, don’t we all. A back wheel jammed while crossing the parking lot. Wheel of Fortune. The Price was Right. Jeopardy. I’ll take Cheap Motel Thrill for 300, Alex. What is femme fatal?
The drapes wouldn’t close. Both double beds held memory foam outlines, foetal position. The brown sink water tasted fine. God is Man yelling was underlined with blood in the desktop Gideon Bible. No Dakota black mining hills, no women running off with another guy, no Racoon Saloon. You had come for isolation and that’s what they served with a side of canned beans. Towels as thin as tissue paper. The local livestock auction on TV, you could bid over the phone if a hankering, then the inevitable scream timpani-ed across the lot with only your car and you under the vacant sky. You’d left your lover’s pistol in the glovebox.
You’re good at running in forests at night. But this thing flew. Doubling back when you believed the coast clear, of course, you’d left the keys bedside. Fog rolled in as if invited. You slide under the chassis to bide time, focused on silent exhales. Oil like water tortured the forehead. Could an exhaust pipe spear a thorax? Did the rental insurance policy cover delusion? At dawn, you regretted not studying more psychology? A wasted life on film. Should-haves turned Tsunami.
When you entered the diner for eggs over-easy, the natives snickered—they knew what you didn’t. Alex, I’ll take All Work and No Play for 200. What is Red Herring? What is don’t touch your own face it could kill you? Caught you looking so you asked for it, the waitress said while squirting ketchup in your eye. That banana peel slip was the missed clue. Enjoy your meal, you glutton.
David Morgan O’Connor is from a small village on Lake Huron. After many nomadic years, he is based in Albuquerque, where a novel and MFA progresses. His writing has appeared in; Barcelona Metropolitan, Collective Exiles, Across the Margin, Headland, Cecile’s Writers, Bohemia, Beechwood, Fiction Magazine, After the Pause, The Great American Lit Mag (Pushcart nomination) , The New Quarterly and The Guardian. Tweeting @dmoconnorwrites.