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Room 204

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You poor, wretched, pitiful creature I thought to myself as I watched the man overdose on my bed. Just another day in the life, I suppose. His name was Fred Wrangler, I believe, but he was known on the street as Indy. It is almost sad to watch these humans do these things to themselves, fill themselves with poison, break sacred vows, and lie, but one does it with the morbid anticipation of an animal being seduced by a viper. I felt an upsetting sense of the familiar as I watched the man fall back onto the bedspread, eyes glazed over and frothing at the mouth, twitching. The hours passed silently. Queue the obese cleaning lady with the broken soul to walk in, stopping short as she sees poor Fred lifeless on the bed. Twenty minutes later, the police arrive and take the poor man away. Fred, Freddie, Indy, names were unimportant now, he was just another body to be processed.

Oh, but it wasn’t always like this, the overdoses, hookers, and all. Sometimes it still isn’t. The Regis Motel sat squarely next to the ocean, attracting all sorts of customers. Happy families, athletes, or groups of backpacking students would make their way through my doors and I was always happy to house them. They admired my comfort and the balcony that looked to the abounding sea. Small children ran their hands down the wallpaper, attracted to its newness. I, Room 204, watched them with a bliss I terribly miss. My myopic view of happiness and the future of the Regis motel sadden me to a fault.

It’s interesting to see just how quickly things can change. An insect can go from crawling, plump larvae to a shriveled, dead fly in just the span of a few weeks. Humans, whom I find far more interesting (and tragic), can go from optimistic, happy individuals filled with idyllic views of the future to suicidal, listless and broken creatures within the span of a few months if the wrong things happen to them. Unfortunately, the Regis Motel went the way of the human, so to speak. A devastating oil spill had ravaged the beach. The news was quick to report it, and all the rooms of the Regis Motel were filled with reporters. However, once the dead turtles and dolphins stopped washing ashore and no more oil could be seen, the people filed out, slinking away like beaten dogs.

No one came to visit much since the town was ravaged by that oil spill. Out of sight out of mind I suppose. The people had forgotten about us. The news was too concerned with smarmy politicians and reality shows to care about a dying building. Lonely cleaning ladies and janitors re-made the same beds and cleaned the same unsoiled bed linens. I waited. As the motel dropped its prices, people slowly came wandering in. I remember in horror the first time the police took a body away; no one will ever know exactly what happened to that woman but me. I remember the first time I saw a man cry, shaking from the welts and bruises that covered his body after being beaten and robbed for $30. I remember watching the walking skeleton vomit her lunch back up after stepping on the scale. These memories, I don’t recall them fondly. However, someone needs to remember those whom the rest of society has forgotten.

As the maid prepared me for whoever would come in next, I was filled with a sense of exhaustion and sadness. Tears of humidity ran down my window panes. Peeling carpet revealed my concrete skeleton. Unwanted loneliness is perhaps one of the most painful things to bear. Lucia finished tucking the in the sheets with the tired floral print and gently dusted a yellowing sign on the door that said Enjoy your visit and thank you for rooming with Regis! As if.

The next man that came in went by the name of Tom. He was a tired, haggard looking man. Too poor to afford a meal, yet too hungry to care. As he surveyed me like others had done in the past, he kicked off his tired, leather shoes and sat down gingerly on my bed as if he was afraid the ruin of others was contagious. Although his face was tired to the point of seeming inhuman, his eyes were hungry, fierce, and alive. Tom picked up the remote and turned on the TV. He was first greeted by a hiker searching for coffee in the Amazon jungle as the natives held a writhing python, their artificial smiles mocking the camera. Irritated, Tom went to the next of the 8 channels. A movie in Japanese was playing. A ninja was running away from a burning building as the old emperor looked at his burning city from a balcony. Channel three yielded a romantic drama about a poor farm boy reunited with his rich playmate from his youth. Channel four showed a reality TV show featuring young twenty-something’s blinded by the intoxication of their youth. Frustrated, Tom moved on to option five, six, and seven. After ten minutes of channel surfing, Tom turned the TV off and started up an old laptop. Rubbing his hands together in anticipation, Tom set his hands on the keyboard. Sometimes, he would muse out loud. I answered him back with simple silence. He typed for hours, devoid of food and water. His story consumed him; I could see it in his eyes and feel it in his agitated dreams. Sometimes he would erupt into a fit of rage as the illusions of his mind's eye lay limp and listless on paper. Sometimes he would scream, other times he would cry. I comforted him with the gentle hum of my air conditioning and sterile scent of Lysol. It pained me to see him stare at his account balance, like a deer in the headlights.


For the next three months Tom would come in and out. One day, he came stumbling in, emptying the stolen goods he had gotten at the Stop ‘n Go across the street from his pockets; a Twinkie, coke, and pizza pocket. From time to time he would stare out tired and enervated out at the sea, idle hands resting by his side. I think he liked the view of the silent, dead ocean. It was more or less the same every time he visited; he would kick off his shoes, run through 7 out of 8 channels, and then start his work on his novel. I did not know where he lived or why he came and went, for the odd job I assume. I was simply proud to have a writer, someone who created, especially since Room 203 next door only had the occasional cheating congressmen. It is not easy, being a motel room. I was designed with purpose for a purpose. A room should surround and protect the air inside of it, separating it from the outside world. Our walls should act a membrane, keeping out small pockets of nothing separate from the outside. Essentially, we were built for the preservation of nothing. Tom seemed to understand this, he was very into buildings and philosophy and the sort.

However, this time when Tom visited, after a woman who swindled others out of money for a cure-all diet pill, he was different. His actions were frantic, and his eyes wild, he looked at his crummy watch while pacing like a caged animal. For twenty minutes he walked back and forth, back and forth, cupped hands held to his mouth like a prisoner waiting to be executed. At 4:30pm, he yanked the laptop open and jammed on the power button. His eyes focused intently on dim screen, he opened his email. His reaction moved me. Tears streamed down his face, and his hands trembled. Covering his gaping mouth with a grimy hand, he sobbed. Bony shoulders shaking violently, he took gasping breaths like a drowning man, as he gently leaned back on my wall, using me as support as he quietly sank to the floor. His book had finally been published.

Tom’s book had been wildly successful. I had heard raving reviews on the news about it as well as seeing the janitor reading it instead of mopping the floors. Although his life was now public knowledge, no one would ever know him as I had. No one would see the poor, starving man throw fits of anger at an idea that couldn’t be translated onto paper. No one would ever know how he only searched though 7 out of 8 channels. No one would ever know the Tom who shoplifted for a meal. Furthermore, no one will ever feel the pure joy that I felt as I watched Tom open that email on that fateful day. People will wonder, only I will know. If only walls could talk…





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