Blurb: Betty’s running away from someone. Jimmy’s running away from dark events in his past. At the seedy Paradise Motel they’re staying at in Florida, everyone’s running away from something.
Here’s a sneak peek:
Jimmy McKeough didn’t sip on his bottle of beer. It was summer in Florida and you had to drink your beer fast or else it would get lukewarm quicker than an alligator death roll. A cold beer was all Jimmy had to enjoy in life. He took a few more mouthfuls of the imported beer and raked his fingers through his messy sandy blonde hair that could use a haircut, and looked out over the pool area of the cheap motel he was staying at.
He leaned his lanky body against one of the poles that supported the second floor section of the shabby U-shaped motel. It had about 50 rooms, most of which were vacant. The walls of the motel had once been white, the paint had stripped and it was in long need of a renovation. The doors to each room were turquoise to give it that Floridian feeling. A rectangular pool was placed in front of the U-shaped two-storey building, surrounded by a dry lawn with a scrawny metal fence enclosing it. There was a parking lot for the residents on the other side of the fence to his right where the U-shape opened up to the busy street.
Jimmy drank some more from his bottled beer and looked over at the white plastic furniture, that could use a cleaning, which were spread around the pool area. He would usually spend his evenings in one of the chairs, drinking his beer. Today was no exception. He was a creature of habit; he’d bring take away food with him after work which he ate in his room, after which he had a shower and a cold beer. Then he went outside to down a six-pack or two by the pool until it was time for bed.
He had taken a shower and his beer was half-empty so he went back inside and got another one from the small fridge and strode over to one of the white plastic chairs and sat down with a deep sigh, putting the cold beer underneath his chair in the shade. He’d longed for this moment all day. The sun was setting, grasping its long golden tentacles over the building as if it wasn’t ready to let go of today just yet.
Jimmy had stayed at plenty of motels during the last eight months, heck, he could probably write a guide book for cheap motels in the area. But he had lived at this place for two months now. It was all right; not too many junkies and hookers that caused problems. Not the cleanest place he’d stayed at but he was okay with it, it was cheap, and most of all he liked the fact that it was almost vacant. It had some regulars, like him, but most of them kept to themselves, and the ones that didn’t he got along with fine.
Speaking of which, Jimmy could hear the familiar sound of shuffling feet on the concrete behind him. He didn’t have to turn his head to see who it was; he knew it was Bert from the sound of his slippers. Bert was an old timer, a retired cop in his seventies whose wife had kicked him out due to his gambling habit. The guy liked to play the ponies, a little too much. He was the stubborn kind, the type that would never go to a retirement home – even though this was Florida and there were basically more retirement homes here than motels. The irony.
“Hey Jimmy,” the old man let out, somewhat short of breath from dragging his feet over the concrete from his room to the pool area. Bert was staying in room 4 on the ground floor, close to the entrance so he had easy access everywhere.
“Hey Bert,” Jimmy turned his head and greeted him with a crooked smile and watched Bert slowly take a seat in the chair next to him. “Shit, I’m fucking not twenty-five anymore,” Bert exhaled and chuckled after finally sitting down in the chair that creaked a bit, with a pack of canned beer on his lap.
“None of us are,” Jimmy agreed and drank from his beer. It was getting warm, so he emptied the bottle down his throat and put it on the ground.
“How was your day?” Bert said with a hoarse throat, the air made a whistling sound in his pipes when he breathed.
“Shit, as usual,” Jimmy said with a blank face. He hated his job, and talking about it made him feel as if he was still at work. But Bert always asked, out of politeness he guessed, it was part of their ritual. Bert chuckled again and opened one of his own cans.
“You want one?” Bert asked.
“Nah, thanks, I got one,” Jimmy said and reached for the new beer under his seat and opened it. The two of them drank their beers in silence for a while. Dark clouds were coming in above them and Jimmy enjoyed the breeze sweeping forgivingly over his tired face.
“Hurricane season’s comin’,” Bert muttered, glaring at the sky.
“Yup,” Jimmy said. He wouldn’t mind some rain.
After a while they were joined by Andy, the twenty-something junkie that had shacked up in room 22 for the last two weeks. He was wearing a dirty white sleeveless shirt and skinny jeans sagging on his behind. His tall, skinny posture reminded Jimmy of Goofy, all arms and legs.
“Hey guys,” Andy said and pulled up a chair next to Bert and Jimmy. He had a cigarette in the corner of his mouth and a bottle of Jack in his fist.
“Hey,” Jimmy said. He actually liked the kid. He was funny. Sadly he was hooked to smack. Jimmy didn’t think he’d live to see thirty. But there wasn’t anything he could do about it. People did whatever the fuck they wanted. And he was no savior, that’s for sure. He drank some more of his beer.
“Andy, I was just telling Jimmy here that I think a storm is coming,” Bert said looking up at the dark skies. Andy looked up at the grey clouds hovering around the evening sun.
“Oh, yeah?” Andy said. “Wouldn’t mind some rain,” he said and drank straight from the bottle, then rested it on his thigh. His foot started drumming against the concrete ground, a nervous tick he was unaware of doing.
“That’s what I thought too,” Jimmy said and lit another cigarette. He noticed a big, black Escalade pull up at the parking lot. Some woman getting out.
“Great minds think alike,” Andy said and laughed out loud. He sounded like a hyena when he laughed, Jimmy thought. The three of them turned their heads when they heard the clicking sound of high heels on the ground behind them. It was Dani, the black transvestite in room 44.
“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,” Dani said and giggled as she approached them in fishnets and a red mini skirt. The three of them smirked. “Well, look at them clouds, do you think it’s gonna rain?” she said and sat down in an empty plastic chair next to Bert. She had a tumbler glass with something yellow in it, possibly a screwdriver, Jimmy guessed. Dani sucked on the straw with her red lips around it. She had done her makeup, all set for the night.
“That’s what we all think,” Andy said, exhaling smoke in the air.
“Oh, shoot, that’s not good for my business,” Dani complained and stroked a few strands of her wig back from her face. Yep, she was a working girl. Never brought her clients back to the motel, though. She was smart. Jimmy liked her.
The four of them were a motley crew, but they respected one another, stayed out of each other’s way, passed no judgments. They all had their reasons to stay at the shady motel.
“Just wear a raincoat, it might attract some loonies,” Andy suggested with another high-pitched laugh.
“You might be right,” Dani said, pursing her red lips.
The loud sound of a suitcase being rolled over the concrete grounds behind them made them all turn around and look. A new resident was approaching from the reception area. It was a curvy woman in tight, white jeans and wedges who was pulling a large suitcase behind her. A colorful silk scarf hid her hair and dark sunglasses hid most of her face.
“Welcome to Paradise!” Andy yelled out to greet her. The others chuckled.
“Welcome to our lovely resort!” Dani shouted, holding her drink up.
“The last resort!” Andy added and gave out a giggling laughter, and the others joined in on it.
The woman didn’t respond, and Jimmy watched as she stopped at the door next to his and fumbled with the keycard.
“You got yourself a new neighbor there,” Andy said and turned to Jimmy with a snicker.
“I guess so,” Jimmy muttered. He didn’t like it. There were plenty of vacant rooms all over the building. “Just my luck,” he sighed and had another mouthful of beer. He hoped she wasn’t going to stay for more than one night.
Copyright © 2019 Victoria Wallin. All rights reserved.