Bukowski would have loved this place a real fleabag motel no fridge no ice, some cigarette-burned ancient RCA TV bolted to a low bureau, strips of pressed wood peeled off, sits next to a Gideon Bible; lamps tilt at weird angles, chairs of ripped fake leather, in worse shape than Salvation Army retreads; grey-white walls marred with black boot heel marks near the door; dirty handprints smudge the wall near the bed; a bullet hole marks the wall just above the TV; the plastic covers of the electrical sockets are cracked, split; brown water stains the gray ceiling tiles. yeah, this is a Buk place, a real roach motel. a six pack, maybe something harder, would make it habitable. out back, on the other side of the parking lot, the steady clickityclack and haunting whistle of a freight train as it passes a crossing makes this dump almost romantic. well, at least the sheets are clean. and anyway, all I need is a place to sleep and shower and shit. it’s perfect for all that.
10:40 p.m. Just getting settled For bed. Phone rings Hello? “Hello, I need you to come To the front desk.” Indian accent, Why? “You need to fill out Some papers.” What? “For the police.” What? “You need to come here, Something about your neighbor in 234.” What? “I don’t know, you need to come down here Right away.” All right.
I hang up, Confused, Put my shirt on, Grab my wallet and keys – Whoa! Maybe that’s a bad move. Some mugger might be waiting Just outside the door. But I might need an ID. I take out my money, credit cards, Slip them under the mattress. (Strange, I’d never think of doing that at home But in this rundown Indiana fleabag motel with Bullet holes and bootheels marking the walls, I worry.)
Maybe the call was a hoax. A ploy to get me to open the door. Wait, what if it’s really the cops And they need my contacts in this burg? Maybe I should take my address book. Nah, if they need them I’ll just go back to the room.
I open my door, Step out, No one around except The trash-fed stray Cat that hangs around the stairs. She meows loudly, Scurries away. I descend the cracked concrete stairs, Glance at my rented car. No stranger there; Bright lights allow No shadowed lairs. I round the corner To the front office Door’s locked. I spot a woman inside Waving me to a security window Like a self-serve gas station at night. I rap on the window And a Paki-Indian-Bangledeshi Man walks up. “Can I help you?” Yeah, what do you want? “What do YOU want?” I dunno, someone called me Told me to come down here And fill out some papers. “Sorry, no one called.” Someone did. “Not from here, my friend.” But someone said there was a complaint From room 234. “I am sorry, my friend, but no one called.” No call? “Someone did the Same thing yesterday. Sorry.”
I go back to the $25 a night room With mold in the shower And crusting the Air conditioner.
I am convinced the mugger Had positioned himself To strike when I return. But I am greeted only By stray cat In the open garbage bin Maybe he’s already in my room Maybe he slipped in there While I was gone and He’s cleaned me out. I walk around the corner To the strairway, Stare at the door to 234 -- No sign of life I open my door, Silence. No one here, Nothing missing, Just one big Fucking pain in The ass practical joke.
I’ve been robbed of nothing Except my sleep.
Abandon All Hope
“Hope springs eternal,” now there’s a lie I’ve seen the infernal work of the pedophile sadist, the lifeless little girl carefully posed naked in a rain-swollen ditch, legs spread, teeth marks on thighs, satanic signs carved into prepubescent breasts. I wrote the news stories that ruined your meals. They should post large notices at the entrances of all maternity wards and the foot of every birthing bed. “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” This world you inherit is the most horrible, most horrific of all of Dante’s rings of hell.
BIO: David Allen is a retired journalist, freelance writer, and poet living in Central Indiana. He is the poetry editor of Indiana Voice Journal and vice president of the Poetry Society of Indiana. He has been published in many literary journals and has two books of poetry, "The Story So Far," and "(more)" available at Amazon.