Saturday, April 19, 2008

IT: Short Fic

This motel is completely for shit. I bet they rent rooms out to whores, by the hour. The lobby smells like mold. I don’t know why it picked this motel. It has a discount for Comfort Inn, and I saw one just down the road.

Maybe it plans to kill me, this time. It says that it will, all the time. It paid with cash. It picked a shit motel.

“Shut up,” I tell my smart-self. She just makes things worse. “It isn’t here to kill you. It probably just wants to snag a whore.”

The lady at the desk shows me where the public phone sits. It is white. I can see dirty fingerprints and Christ knows what else on the handset. Gross.

I pull a folded scrap of paper from my pocket. I got it at an ER, about six months ago. I can’t remember what town that was. Now the paper is faded and torn. I can read it, though. I press the motel key for “toll free.”

Some woman answers. “Battered women helpline,” she says cheerfully.

My mind is flooded with stuff that I could say. I can feel the motel clerk’s beady eyes on me.

Nothing comes out. I could tell her about the time it knocked out my tooth. That’s an easy one. The really hard stuff would never come out. There aren’t words for that stuff.

I could tell her how it put me in an unplugged chest-freezer for a whole night. That was the night I stopped calling it a “him” – a man. No man could do this to his wife.

That night in the freezer, I could barely breathe. The air was stale and smelled of spoiled milk.

Every now and then, it would open the door and stare down at me – smiling. Sometimes some spittle would rain down.

It held me down with its heavy hands and burned my thighs with its cigarette. My fourth foster father used to do that. When I married it, I thought all that shit was behind me.

It acted like a man, back then. I guess it was just like a trained animal that could walk on its hind feet. I could smile and joke and hug. It could say “I love you.” It couldn’t sustain the act forever, though. Not much past the honeymoon.

I thought it all over in the freezer. There was plenty of time to think. I thought I would die in there.
It just kept laughing at me. It said, “I should have put you in there a long time ago. You’re nothing but spoiled meat.”

It said my cunt is loose. It said that I smell. Then morning came, and it just opened the freezer. It let me out as if nothing had happened, at all. That’s the way it is. You never can tell.

I remember again that I am on the phone in this shit hotel. The lady on the other end isn’t saying anything. I try to think what I could say.

I could tell her about the hospital. I walked downtown in the snow. They put me in a paper gown and made me lay on a metal table. Then they brought in some sweet-faced nurse aid to hold me down. Everyone holds me down.

My cunt can’t be loose. It can’t be right. It hurt too much when they did the “pap.” Then they took three swabs. I heard them click like the safety on the gun it keeps under our bed.

It hurt. I cried. They held me down. I bucked and gasped like a landed, dying fish. Then they said, “Everything looks okay.” They “documented my burns,” then they gave me that phone number and sent me on my way.

“What’s going on for you?” the phone-lady asks. She reminds me of where I am. I’m at some shit hotel with it, again.

I think for a moment, but nothing comes. I feel like a deer in the headlights.

“It – he says I smell,” I whisper.

The lady on the phone said something sympathetic, but I didn’t catch it. The desk clerk is snickering at me. She ducks her head when I turn toward her, but I know she was laughing at me.

“Forget it,” I say, and hung up the phone. I flip the desk-bitch off and go outside.

I walk down the concrete sidewalk to 104 – It's room. I know it would still be asleep. It drank three bottles of Nyquil.

It does not look peaceful when it sleeps. This is more like going for a hike and accidentally stumbling upon a grizzly bear, slumbering in its cave. Your only thought is, “Please don’t let that wake up.”

I look around for something to do. The room smells like cough syrup and sweat. I can’t turn the air conditioner on. The rumble might wake it up.

T.V.? No way. Might wake it up. Shower? Sound of the water might wake it up. Radio? No.

I notice the bedside table. There must be a Bible in there. And a phone book. If I get tired of one, I can read the other.

I get the Bible and start flipping through. My mom used to do that. She would let it fall open to random pages and act like the first sentence she read was a special message for her.

It says “Isaiah 66.17-24” at the top. I look down at the middle of the page.

“For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, says the Lord; so shall your descendants and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the Lord. And they shall go out and look at the dead bodies of the people who have rebelled against me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be abhorrence to all flesh.”

I look around the room – just thinking. The sound of its snoring is the only sound.

This whole thing reminds me so much of my mother. It all comes back to me, how she used to carry that bible around.

“A prophet isn’t recognized in his own town,” she would say. “Just kick the dust off your feet and move on.”

It sounded like crazy talk, back then. But it’s beginning to make sense. Isn’t that what I do with my life? I am always just moving from town to town. Maybe it’s time to kick the dust off my feet – this time on my own.

I walk to the bed. It is snoring away. Its nose and mouth are wide open and rattling with air. It is face-up with its hooked-nose pointing to the ceiling. If you couldn’t hear the snores, you might think it was saying a prayer.

“From new moon to new moon, all folks will come to worship God,” I whisper to myself. I pick up my pillow. It is free and clear – lying down by its feet. This is easy – far too easy. This isn’t coincidence. This is meant to be. I think of the shit motel, the fake name, the bible in the drawer – yes. This is all for me.

“They will go out and look at the bodies of the dead people that rebelled against God,” I whisper. “They shall kick the dust off their feet and move on.”

I put the stained pillow down over its face. I hold it tight – so tight. I lean down with all my weight.

It struggles. It hollers. It kicks and swings. It gets me good in the ribs. No matter – I can take it. I have been trained.

Everything is clear as I stand over it. Everything falls into place. It brought me here to murder me. God put it in its place. How else could I be strong enough to win this fight? I am. I can see its strength ebbing away.

Maybe five minutes pass before I take the pillow away. It feels like the length of a day. When I move, it is peaceful and quiet, like. It doesn’t look like a grizzly bear in its cave. It looks like a weak, beaten thing.

I just stare at it for a good long time. Then I put the bible away. I can have a good shower before I leave. But first, I kneel down at the bedside. Its body is on the altar where I pray.

“Thank you for Nyquil, God,” I whisper. “Thanks for bringing me to your word, today.”

I get up. I am free. I will knock the dust off my feet and walk away.