For the last fifteen or so years I've been living with a bunch of dead guys at a motel in West Texas. Like the characters in my stories, I'd really like to move on, see the world, go places. But I'm just like them. Anchored by love, worn down by circumstances and fascinated by how much there really is underneath it all. So I keep writing their stories and tell myself that someday, when I've got this all out of my system, I'll write deep, meaningful literature about... something else. In the meantime, this is a place for the short attention spanned. I'm making a commitment to keep it small here. Flash fiction and scenes from the life inspired by, The Bella Vista Motel.
Madge stepped into room number 12 reluctantly, ready to run right back out should she find that something awful had happened again. She gazed around the room, taking in the perfectly made bed, the dust-free night table with a sparkling clean glass ashtray, the mirror above the dresser spotlessly reflecting a tray that held a water pitcher, glasses and a big, black telephone, everything just as it should be, cleaned and arranged exactly as Madge had instructed, but she saw nothing that could have been the source of the glass shards all over the floor. Just as she was thinking that the girl must surely have broken something by accident, panicked and run away out of shame or fear that she'd be beaten for it, Slappy walked in, looked around also, shrugged, and picked up the broom that lay on the floor near the dustpan, his shoes crunching on the scattered glass. Then it hit them both... a wave of odor that permeated the room – burnt, metallic, bloody, with a strangely female edge – a smell like sex gone wrong that caused Madge to gag a little, cover her nose and mouth with her hand, step back and nearly slip where the glass fragments had dissolved into fat globules of water spreading out on the floor and diluting the blood into meaningless pink puddles. The smell disappeared as she caught her balance, cursed the wet floor and hands on hips, complained, "If that girl thinks she can walk off and not finish her work, she's going to learn different when I get a hold of her." She stared into Slappy's eyes briefly, challenging him to make a smart remark, but he just shook his head and brushed past her muttering, "I'll go get the mop."
The suicides irritated Romeo. As he scanned the names in the guest book – noticing three that had checked out the hard way – he heard the creaking moan of rope against tree limb coming from behind him, and sensed swaying movement heavy with death and alive with malice. In his experience, the ones who did themselves in had a deep, ugly kind of anger that wouldn't come out in the open to be dealt with man to man. You couldn't have a good fist fight with one of those guys, then shake and have a beer. They were more apt to scheme, and hold grudges, to wallow in self-pity and plan their exits in the best possible way to leave behind mess and upset for all – like the guy who blew his brains out in the pool, turning it into a giant bloody punchbowl, or the one who'd been so motivated to hang himself, he'd broken through the plaster in the ceiling of room number 11 to expose a beam – oh yes, suicides loved to make dramatic messes. And just because what they seemed to want more than anything else was the last word and unending attention, Romeo refused to acknowledge the possibility that there was really anything hanging in the tree behind him, and instead looked up at the dogs who stood watching the walkway leading back out into the motel courtyard with expectant expressions and wagging tails.