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.
Jake and Skad were drunk, but not so drunk they'd let Arnie get away without paying up, and the cards in his hand were garbage, just like they had been all night. He hadn't even wanted to play to begin with, but Jake had noticed that queer pack of cards sitting on the edge of the bar, the ones with the laughing crows on the backs, and the three of them had found themselves playing hand after hand like there was no end to the night. There was an end to Arnie's money all right, and he had come to that end real quick. The two of them were having a high old time, yucking it up every time Arnie had to push his chips their way, and the sound of their barking laughter, like a couple of hyenas in heat drove him to want to break a chair on their heads. He rubbed the sweat off of his forehead, looked down and saw a card on the floor, just laying there, bird side up. He thought just then that he'd really like to have the last laugh –– a real big laugh just like the bird –– and as his hand went for his gun, he thought hey, maybe that's what the bird on the back of the cards had been telling him all along... maybe the bird was saying, "Arnie, sometimes you gotta laugh it up big and let the bullets fly!"
We like the being of her inside us, little girl Rosa, so dark, so inward looking, so secret wishes keeping. To the man man Romeo, she is quiet and obedient, to the Romeo girl Madge, she is well behaved, and all the time working and working to make nice our window eyes, our hard white shinies, our tree-skin ground. She peels off the hiding shrouds from the sleeping places, she lays down fresh hair for the feet, she brings and she takes away. She touches us all over with quick little hands and they forget to see her eyes, so they are not knowing her. But we see her pretend woman hips in the mirrorways, and we see her eye sparkles sliding sideways when the boy man Slappy passes near, oh yes, we are all the time seeing little girl Rosa's eyes, so we are knowing her very well. Sister girl Maria waits for her, lonely in our belly, but we want to roll little girl Rosa around on our tongue, we want to hold her in our mouth, tucked between teeth and wall for slow tasting, happy waiting, sister girl Maria has gone quiet, she will happy wait too.
Slappy didn't like to admit it, but the new maid seemed to be working out okay and it was a relief to have some help. As soon as Rosa got to work, he and Madge could see she was a better bargain than her sister had been, so just to be on the safe side, they took care to keep room number 12 locked up and not let her in there. Madge insisted the girl get to stay in the room right next to the lobby and was very mother hen about her, even going so far as to take her on a shopping trip to San Angelo when she realized the poor kid only had the clothes she'd arrived in. They had a lot to do to get ready for the guys that were on their way from the city. From what Slappy could find out, there had been trouble between the Boss' guys and some other gang of Irish bastards from Boston, some of the Micks got nicked in a fairly ugly way and now some guys had to come lay low to avoid an all out war. Listening to the reports on the radio about Poland falling to the Krauts, Slappy couldn't help thinking the world would be a better place if guys would just stay in their own neighborhoods, and keep their noses out of other guy's business.
Finally, here you are, I been waiting for you for hours. I only had one or two, though, I know how you feel about me being messy out in public. When other guys tried to buy me one, or talk me up with those lines of crap, I told them to dry up. It ain't right to leave a girl sitting in a bar alone for so long, people get wrong ideas. But you're here now, and it's all over with, so let's just be glad together, okay? Here baby, have a drink, it'll remind you to love me.
The surprising thing about Rosa, was how little she had seemed to care about her missing sister once she'd looked around the motel and had her questions answered. Madge had walked her around the motel courtyard and showed her the rooms, dreading what the girl might see in the room where her sister had disappeared, but when she took her into room number 12, it had just presented itself as a clean, empty room with no sign of any kind of violence, no strange odor, and though Madge held her breath in the silence, no cries coming from inside the walls. Rosa had been quite impressed with the washing machine, insisting Madge show her how to work it before they continued with their tour, and had stared wide eyed in the lounge at the fancy red pool table, the piano, all the mirrors in their gilt frames on the red walls and the paintings of the matador, the bull and the Spanish dancer. She'd said she couldn't understand why her sister had run away, because it seemed like a very nice place to work and would she please be allowed to take her place? Rosa's understanding of English was little better than her ability to speak it, but with Madge's basic Spanish they could communicate well enough and once she got over feeling awkward about the lost Maria and convinced herself there was no need to explain the odd circumstances of her disappearance, Madge found she liked the younger girl. The motel had been without guests since the last guys to stay had gotten into that terrible fight and shot the hell out of the motel and each other, but there was a whole new gang on the way according to Romeo, so she was really going to need the help.