There was nothing but a bunch of dead flies on the window ledge. Beyond that, the patched asphalt of the parking lot and beyond that, a bunch of sandwich boards lined up like the bottom row of a house of cards.
Becca dropped the smelly orange curtain shut with a sigh.
She wasn’t sure what had prompted her to get into the man’s car – let alone why she’d asked him to be taken to a motel. She had no idea what she had expected but she felt thoroughly disappointed.
The man had immediately fallen asleep face down on a putrid orange and brown comforter which was covered with so many glossy cigarette burns that the orange flowers looked like they were infested with aphids.
At first, Becca had quietly sat in a chair by the bed, imagining he’d wake up and tell her what to do next but he’d been asleep fifteen minutes so it looked like he was just going to snore.
Becca leaned back in her orange chair to appreciate the atmosphere. She had never been in a divy motel before but had someone asked her what she thought, she would have said that Room 7 was more real and more honest about itself than everything and anyone else in her life.
The room wasn’t pretending to be a home away from home. It didn’t matter that it didn’t have feature walls or that people thought its bedspreads were shitty. You weren’t going to put a spin on it and make it into anything else: it was a room for sleeping and fucking – and if people didn’t like it, they could go someplace else.
Becca noticed some of the simulated wood veneer had been peeled off the bedside table exposing layers of plastic and glue beneath – the sedimentation of desperate affairs and last minute road trips to Wonderland.
Becca wanted a piece, too. She needed a souvenir of her excursion to reality so she could look back at it and remember the time her life felt like it belonged to her.
She tried to dig her nails under a strip of veneer but she couldn’t get an edge and there was nothing to jam it free. Still, she wasn’t leaving without a memento. She got to her feet and crossed over to the print that hung by the door but discovered it was screwed into the wall. It was a faded landscape of a grassy field which was somewhere between yellow and brown, between alive and dead. And that, Becca supposed, was something.
Becca spotted a book of rumpled matches on the dresser and stuffed them into her pocket, glancing over her shoulder to make sure the Man hadn’t seen her. She didn’t think he’d care but she wasn’t going to take a chance.
She turned back towards the bed and inadvertently walked over the Man’s pants. As Becca picked his trousers up off the floor, his wallet slid out of the back pocket and hit the rust carpet with a soft plop. Becca hesitated a few moments then picked it up.
The leather was dull and barely had any stitching details left on. It could have been road kill; a squirrel or a groundhog after a few hours under rush hour traffic.
The ID and credit cards were slightly warm which made part of Becca want to gag because technically, the heat had come from the man’s ass and Becca wanted very little to do with that.
She learned he was Dwayne Jennings of 1024 Pinecrest Ave. He appeared to be a much calmer person on his driver’s license than he was in real life. In real life, Dwayne Jennings had pretty much lost it when Becca told him she was fourteen. He’d shouted and paced and sat down on the bed, wringing his hands, saying his life was ruined.
Becca had felt sorry for him, so she’d taken her top off to let him look at her boobs. He had cum. Almost immediately. Without touching her and practically without touching himself. It had been a whole lot of noise about nothing. He’d thanked her. She said he was welcome, although reflecting on it, she wasn’t sure it had been necessary to be polite back.
As Becca slipped the driver’s license back into Dwayne’s wallet, she discovered a picture stuck to the back of his card. It looked pro – like one of the school year book pictures. Dwayne, looking like he’d been stuffed into his suit like cannelloni with his arm wrapped around a woman wearing a shiny green dress which hugged her rolls of fat. She looked like a pupae about to rip open except she would never transform into anything beautiful.
Not that she considered herself more beautiful. It’s just that Becca could tell whether something was muscle or fat, whether it jiggled or bounced. She knew where the secret pockets of fat hid – below shoulder blades and over knees like avalanche crusts, waiting to let go and cascade down the sides of a calf or the underside of an arm. It was useless knowledge and she hated herself for dissecting people like that but it was one of the ways she could talk with her mother.
The week after her father had moved out, Becca’s mom told her they would have to pull together to get through the tough times and taught her to mix drinks: rye and sevens, screwdrivers, white Russians, gin and tonics. Becca would measure the shots and bring the drinks into the living room on a tray with some peanuts in a dish. Everyone told her she was cute. It wasn’t until she was eleven that Becca noticed all her mother’s friends were men. And it wasn’t much later after that, when she got her boobs, that her services were no longer required.
Becca had tried to keep a positive outlook on the situation. Life could change in the blink of an eye but no one could take away her hostessing skills.
Becca chucked the photo of Dwayne and his pupae into the wastepaper basket and graciously carried Dwayne’s suit and underpants into the bathroom to hang them.
NEXT WEEK: Becca lights Dwayne’s fire.