Port in a Storm by
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It was a dark and stormy night.  No, really.  Water deluged the windshield, completely overwhelming the wipers and forcing the car to creep along the interstate, risking collision  ahead or behind.  The goal had been Galveston.  Now it was survival.

It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a light of hope.

Suddenly, a light of hope!  An exit sign that read “Seely” and a nearby pink neon flamingo.  We couldn’t be picky, and with great relief found ourselves checking into the lonely motel  tucked along the freeway.  Two women and a dog?  No problem.  The room was small and basic, predictably shabby but dry.

As we were starting to settle into our refuge, the neighbors arrived.  It sounded like a good-sized crowd, and we could hear every word. Hubbub, laughter, welcomes, then music from a boom box.  A woman’s voice urged, “Crank it up, Jaime!” And he did.  The local teenagers were apparently just starting an all-night party, and we were unwitting guests through the thin wall.

We returned to the check-in desk.  The clerk was unfazed by the party, but sympathetic.  “Oh yes, they drive me crazy too.  Sometimes they keep me up all night!”  This was clearly a regular thing.  Was there, um, any alternative?  She took pity and thought maybe we could use the room above the office.

That room was remarkable for being at least twice as large as our former cubicle, filled wall to wall with three double beds with assorted drab covers at odd angles, good for a really large family or a sad orgy.  Quieter though.  We chose a bed in the corner, gingerly touching the thin and dingy sheets that seemed like they would tear with the slightest tug.  The grimy bathroom had a scary toilet with a spongy floor next to the base, and a hole in the floor.  Using the shower was unthinkable.  The strong odor of disinfectant wasn’t reassuring.

We slept in our clothes.  Early next morning we left, unsure if we were more grateful to have escaped the storm or the Flamingo Motel.

Profile photo of Khati Hendry Khati Hendry


Characterizations: been there, funny, well written

Comments

  1. At least it wasn’t the Bates Motel, Khati!

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Wow! At least you were safe from the storm. And away from the noise? And had the sympathy of the clerk.

  3. Suzy says:

    Wow, that is quite a motel story, Khati! So glad you have a pic of the pink neon flamingo! And that you survived the experience, escaping both the storm and the seedy motel. Considering you’ve been on the road for a while, I’m impressed you had time to write this story!

  4. Marian says:

    Yuck, what an experience, Khati, but you were out of the storm and lived to tell the tale. I’ve had a couple of similar (but not as dramatic) visits to crummy motels that I’d rather forget!

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    You capture the “yuckiness” of hotels like The Flamingo perfectly, Khati. As a child, we stayed in many of these. Searching for a “vacancy” sign in late afternoon often resulted in a room like yours. Once, we crammed an army cot into a room with two twin beds and the five of us stayed up all night as freight trains rattled the room.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Yes, you can definitely relate. Since the advent of mobile phones and online booking, we have had fewer of those last minute disasters. But have certainly been caught short, including getting stuck in a Motel 6 that charged over $200 for a bad room.

  6. Dave Ventre says:

    Long ago, driving home from my brother’s second wedding, a vicious snowstorm drove us off of NJ Rt 22 and into a very sketchy little motel, the kind with hourly rates. We also slept fully clothed, with a chair wedged under the doorknob and all the wire hangars precariously piled atop it as a crude alarm. The various noises and snatches of conversation in the hallway were actually pretty funny.

    Surprisingly, the car was still there the next day.

  7. John Shutkin says:

    A great, creepy story, Khati, and very nicely told. And, yes, per Dana’s comment, you definitely wanted to stay away from that shower. “Yuckiness,” as Layrie noted, is exactly the right term for the hotel — and your experience.

    You also started your story with the perfect murder mystery opening line cliche. Though “any port in a storm” would have been equally applicable.

  8. Brliiant, Khati! I love the opening. The goal had been Galvaston, now it was survival! The images are so clear, the sheets so thin they could tear, the terrifying bathroom. I recoil and want to back out the door as I read. Fabulous vignette!

  9. It’s a great opening chapter for something.

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