The first three paragraphs I wrote in response to the prompt “while everyone was asleep.” A few weeks later, we were looking at ways of revision and one of the suggestions was to write from a different point of view. I went back to my guy in the motel and wrote a piece from the guy on the other side of the counter’s perspective. This was my favorite piece to read aloud.
This spring, I took a writing class offered through Write Around Portland. It was called “Prompt” because each week we would meet and write for a limited amount of time–usually somewhere between 2-8 minutes–to a number of different prompts. As the school year grinds to a start and I have less time to write, I will be featuring excerpts from my writing class in lieu of the weekly essay.
I’m the overnight guy at a local motel. I arrive at work every night promptly at 11:00 PM, my bow tie fastened. I won’t leave work until seven in the morning. By eleven, most of the rooms have been rented, though I sometimes get a few stragglers: the people who have been driving too long and just need to crash for a few hours, or the night owls who prefer the emptiness of the highway. Every once in a while I rent a room to a couple for a late-night hookup, sometimes even to people I know. Those are the worst transactions; keeping the breezy professional air while thinking, “Brian, are you sure, man? How much, exactly, have you had to drink?”
I have to balance the books for the day and complete some housekeeping tasks, but a lot of my time is my own. I listen to music, or, if it is really late and no one is around, I play my guitar. But mostly I sit in silence. There is a comfort to the quiet, like all the people I care for are tucked away asleep and it’s my job to keep them safe.
Morning will come, as it does, and people will hustle out the door, smelling of soap and showers, or last night’s overindulgence. I settle their bills and send them on their way, then wander home to my own bed and sleep.
“Do you have any rooms?” Holy Shit! Is that Gary from school? Oh, god, please no.
“One bed would be fine, thanks.” It is him! Goddammit! Of all the motels in this city. What’s he doing here?
“Just one night, thanks.” Jesus. Does he know I’m still with Jessica?
“Nope. Normal check out time will be fine.” Christ. He does know and he knows this isn’t Jessica.
“Credit card.” No Gary, I’m walking in here with, wait. What was her name?
“That’s weird, I sent them a payment last week. Try this one instead.” It was something with an E. Evie? Evelyne? Evangine? Oh fuck it. I don’t really need to know her name.
“One key will do.” She looks good though Gary, doesn’t she? I bet you are panting at the thought of what we’re about to do.
“Wait, which hallway?” Dammit. I saw that look. I didn’t like that look. Who are you to judge, buddy?
“Second floor?” It’s not like you see how Jessica looks at me. Like I can’t do anything right. Like I missed the promotion and I’ll never make things right.
“Wait. Is this a non-smoking room? We need a smoking room, right, uh, honey?” The way I’m about to drill it to uh, Emily? Emma? Whatever. There’s no way I’m not smoking after.
“No, no trouble at all.” And she’s totally into me, I can tell. I bet she’ll do things Jessica hasn’t done in months.
“Third floor? Great man, thanks.” Look at that ass, Gary. Look at it.
“No wakeup call necessary.” Wait. Look at that ass. Did it look like that back in the bar? We were sitting down. But really, you think I would have noticed. I only had, uh. How much did I have to drink again?