Anyway, I asked how many units they’d rented, and she said three, but that two were Rabbits, and that she and Bill had done up those rooms in the night. I never catch on to jokes very fast, and that one went about a mile over my head, so I asked how a rabbit got to be a customer. She laughed and said she’d forgot to explain about Rabbits. It was a word Bill had invented for people who rented a room for an hour or two or three of sex. Rabbits breed like a flash, you know, so he’d thought it was a funny way to refer to that kind of customer. He even had names for the regular Rabbits. Mustang Rabbit was a guy who drove one, and the kind of car he had was the first thing Bill noticed about a person. Thursday Rabbit was a guy who came only on Thursday nights, and Rose Rabbit always arrived in a van marked with the name of a florist about twenty miles off. I thought that was pretty risky, but people around here don’t travel a whole lot, so I guess he figured he was safe from getting spotted.
The second thing I noticed was this pretty, polished wood box, and right away I thought of a coffin. It was too small to be coffin, though, except for a midget or a kid, so I asked what it was. “Oh, that’s my cedar chest,” she said and then explained that when she turned eighteen her mother’d given her that. In it she was to keep nice things for when she got married: fancy towels and napkins and bed sheets and nightgowns and things like that. Some girls call them hope chests, she said, and her face just then looked about as hopeful as a prisoner’s when they lead him down the hall to get gassed or electrocuted.
Well, the poor old Tower only had a little sign, and if it looked like a slow night, which most of them were, the Wolfes didn’t even turn it on. Bill told me once it cost more to light the sign for a night than they made off one room. All they had space to claim on their sign were “phones in rooms,” which might have been a large selling point in another century, and “free tv” on the second line, although they just had an antenna and got only four channels, one of them PBS, which never had anything good on it.
Another thing about the sign was that, like most everything else at the Tower, it didn’t work just right. Sometimes several of the letters didn’t light up, so you could see a bunch of nonsense up there. “Looks like Chink talk,” my dad would say. At other times it would turn out to be accidentally funny, and Bill and Evelyn’s sign was famous even before I worked there. Of course, this was not the kind of fame anybody would want. It was like being famous because your nose is two feet long. People in town would drive by just to see what their sign said that night and maybe get a laugh. How do you know when your town is boring? When some of the excitement is to watch a sign make mistakes. Brother.
Tower Motel Excerpt 6 Dec 2019
One night when Dad was drunk, and he was drunk most nights, he gave me one year at home, without a job, after I graduated. Then he would kick me out. In English class we read a poem by somebody – maybe it was Carl Sandburg, but I always confused him with some other white-haired guys – who said home was the place where they had to take you in if you went there. He didn’t say anything about time limits, but then Dad had done a lot worse in English than I did, so he didn’t know that.
AVAILABLE AT AMAZON.COM – A NEW NOVEL BY LARRY STANFEL
THE TOWER MOTEL
A dysfunctional couple struggle to subsist on a decaying, small-town motel bypassed by the Interstate highway. The man spirals down beneath a chronic disease, his alcoholic wife shrinks from the world and turns ever inward on herself and her cheap, grasping friends, and their wastrel, teenage son wends his own way. It is a tragedy of love, despair, revenge, loyalty, and murder narrated in the vocabulary and through the eyes of their sole employee, an uneducated young housekeeper. Her ground-level philosophies and pithy observations paint cutting, often humorous, portraits of the unfortunate characters, their trials, and the world around her.
This exciting novel, in the spirit of film noir, tracks believable people trapped by their own humanity and schemes. It lies in wait with twists and turns for adult readers of every level. Read it and contribute your review to this website.
288 pages of realistic entertainment available at Amazon.com for just $8.85, it is the first of a forthcoming series of novels and novellas by Larry Stanfel.
Please watch this space for news of my forthcoming novel, The Tower Motel.
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