Copyright ©Martin Hanley 2014
Every once in a while time and space convene to allow our lives to move at obtuse angles in order to form beautiful yet desperate triangles. And at these pivotal intersections if we’re lucky or some would say unlucky we can experience opaque moments where time itself seems to slow down, sometimes even stop altogether. You’ve reached a point where words are meaningless and sometimes best held back as these lost moments are only ever transparent when viewed retrospectively.
The shivering girl smiled as she approached the motel room door. Jeff blocked her path and her expression changed dramatically . As if things weren’t bad enough he blurted out an ill-advised apology “Look I’m really sorry about this Promise, last night was great but that was then and this is…” His shallow words were frozen mid sentence as his wallet smashed into his chest and fell to the slushy ground below. Promise’s breath streamed out of her like a rampaging dragon “Fuck you very much too, you lying sack of..!” Reacting Jeff automatically countered with, “Promise, calm down please. Let me pay for a cab for ya, ok?” As he began to stoop down to pick up his wallet, Promise Decarbonnet exploded ” Fuck you and your cab!” With his phone ringing Jeff retreated quickly inside as the steaming hot coffee and delicious bacon raps smashed into the motel room door to the fading melody “Go fuck yourself asshole!”
Seconds later Jeff discovered his phone beneath the duvet and checked back outside to see if Promise was still hanging around. The phone’s exotic ringtone stopped bleating; he knew exactly who it was and what she’d be saying. Pacing while combing his graying locks he finally poked his head outside to make certain his tantric partner was gone for good. The world beyond the car park looked empty and silent; the snow had begun to lodge and soften the harsh edges of the decaying city limits. Even the rusted old neon sign “The King’s Inn Motel” with its three flickering letters appeared warm and festive beneath its brand new frosted coating. Jeff picked his sodden wallet up from the coffee-colored slush and scanned the trail of footprints as all evidence of Promise began to disappear.
Finally relaxing a little he shut the door and began checking his wallet’s contents. Sodden bank notes, his credit cards, they were all there and he soon realized that all the young woman had spent was the price of their breakfast.He’d misjudged her totally and as he guiltily glanced across the room he noticed something glinting behind his guitar. His missing presumed stolen wrist watch was hanging off the tuning keys. He felt relieved and foolish in that very same moment as he grabbed his phone and checked the call log for Sally’s number. He hit dial and called her muttering “Come on Sally pick up”.
On the second ringtone she answered and Jeff greeted her with a smooth performance “Hi Sal, how’s it going babe? Hey listen I’m so sorry I missed your messages earlier. Rough crowd last night; I slept right through; phone on silent! You know how it is.” He could picture Sally calmly placing her espresso down but he was surprised and pleasantly relieved to hear how downbeat her voice sounded when she answered “I’m sorry too about all those messages Jeff. Really difficult day here too and you know I’d been looking forward to hearing from you.”
Sighing Jeff collapsed onto the bed as the sense of relief began to grow. In his most positive sounding voice he promised Sally “Let’s go get that decadent breakfast at the Meridian this weekend, ok babe?” Waiting for her reply he thanked the Universe for granting him a second reprieve. Sally hesitated as another phone began ringing. She apologized I’m sorry Jeff I have to take this, it’s my mum and you know what my mum’s like. Call me as soon as you get in please?” He smiled to himself as he kissed her goodbye. The calm serenity after the call was shattered as someone began knocking at his door again. Jeff froze at the thought of Promise’s return and for a second or so the resulting nightmare scenario accosted his mind. Maybe she’d forgotten something but then he was pleasantly surprised to see his buddy Rory appear at the window, blowing on his hands while smiling and waving. Jeff grabbed the wrist watch and kissed it lovingly, slipping it onto his wrist and fastening it tightly.
Outside the snow was cascading down again masking the ugliness of the motel’s empty car park. Jeff blew on his hands and pulled his grey hoody up before carefully placing his treasured guitar in the rear seat of their van. Rory winked at him “How’d it go last night bro? She’s a fucking animal eh; been at all our gigs. Promise, yeah that’s her name right?” Jeff shook his head as if he wasn’t sure and grabbed some snow up to form a snowball. Rory continued “She’s not right you know, in the head I mean”. Jeff ignored his last comments and threw the snowball, hitting Rory mid chest. His ginger buddy continued on ribbing him about their shared love in. After a few more snowballs had been thrown Rory relented “OK, OK what goes on tour stays on tour! No worries man!”
In that moment the skies cleared and the watery sun began to break through as the low hanging snow clouds caressed the smoggy horizon. A chill gust of wind slammed the passenger door shut as Jeff made his way across the forecourt to the run down looking office. Inside however it was cosy and warm. Jeff rang the bell on the large formica counter and a smiling teenager popped his head up. The young man with his greasy hair tied up in a ponytail was a sight to behold. Wafer thin, his skeletal frame was lost inside the ill-fitting cheap suit displaying his name tag; Dean Smith. The clerk thanked Jeff as he returned the key. He was clearly starved for company in this lonely hospitality outpost.He attempted to broach a conversation with Jeff “Clearing up out there. Looks like the thaw will soon be here.” Jeff smiled and nodded back; he wondered what it must be like to be part of the furniture at the Kings Inn motel. The clerk hung Jeff’s key on a hook and added ‘ Would you like to fill out one of our customer survey cards sir?” The weary musician smiled cynically and tipped the young geek five dollars before heading back outside.
As he exited the office the air was still, the shrill wind had relented and the snow had finally stopped falling. On the freeway a long stream of commuter traffic would slow their return journey up considerably but despite all Jeff was smiling as he hopped into the waiting van. Rory beeped the horn in a celebratory fashion as they skidded into motion and merged with the long line of traffic. After only a few yards progress the traffic halted and then edged forward in spurts again. Jeff indicated to the band’s drummer come chauffeur that he was going to get some shut-eye. He relaxed in the well-worn seat and thought about the office clerk’s throw away weather comments. As he wiped the condensation from the side window he was able to see that the sun was already turning the pristine wintry scene to a grey and icy sludge. And before too long the season’s hidden debris and waste would also be uncovered by the thawing ice and snow.