Thursday, January 1, 2009

Western Inn Part Two

It's rude, crude and unedited. Still a lot of work to do but here it is...

What follows is a fictional account.


Any resemblance to places or people; living or dead is their own damn fault.


Rated R for Adult Language and Situations.


The Western Inn
7666 NW Route 66
Bethune, OK


... The office at the Western Inn was crowded with vending machines and stacks of new phone books. A thin plexiglass window sepreated the office from the waiting area with a door bell labled "Ring For 'Sevice'".


William George pressed the button and quickly released it as the tinny bell sounded from within the dwelling beyond the business areas.


A frail woman emerged from the tiny home beyond the office. "$45.00 a night."


With ten days until the first payday, a thin wallet and a bank balance in the red William George asked for a weekly rate.


"$185.00, plus tax."


He ponied up for a weeks rent figuring that he wouldn't freeze to death, at least not in the next seven days.


"Room 12 the last unit on the right."


Room 12. The last unit on the right. At least there would only be one neighbor at a time if at all. The lights were dim 40 watt bulbs. TV, bolted to the dresser. The toilet worked and there was hot water. (The bath tub could use all of the hot water it could get.) And the combination heat and air conditioner seemed to work.


'Home...", well, home for seven days at least. William George unloaded the Dodge, including the blanket and pillow that 'Mother' had sent along, "In case you have to sleep in the truck."


With every light on and the heat turned up to maximum William George climbed back into the Dodge.


Groceries. Enough coffee and bologna to last a week.


He laughed to himself, "I got some groceries, some peanut butter, to last a couple of days..."


In the tiny 'historic' motel room he ate a sandwich, washed it down with a beer and fell asleep with the TV on.


The next morning, one day closer to payday, William George clocked in at 05:30 and joined James for coffee.


Day two would be more of the same, scrapping sealer from the rivets and seams. In a different situation it would have been a bit humiliating, twenty years in the business and stuck scraping crap like a fresh A&P School Graduate.


Not here. Not so in the one place in the world where his reputation was still intact. 'Look at that! These other guys are standing around and Wills' over there scrapping like a machine.' 'That's Will.'


One day welded to the next.


William, perched under or on top of one wing after another found a hobby- Who's next? Contractors that established themselves were invited to 'Go Direct' and become permanent employees.


The others dropped like flies.


After Mitch Runyan went 'direct' he confided in William George, "Man, we tell all of the new contractors, 'watch out for James and Will. They'll fire you in a hot flash!'"


"Me? I can't fire anyone!"


"Bullshit. You fired that kid from Canada."


"The hell I did. I TRIED to but Keenan wouldn't let me."


"Whatever. When he, with all seven months of his experience, was standing next to you scraping and whining and saying that if he didn't get better job assignments he was going to quit, we all knew he was G-O-N-E."


"I didn't do it."


Laughing, the retired Navy Chief walked away.


William George's days consisted of work and nights consisted of TV and beers in Room 12.


Neighbors came and went faster than contractors.


Some of each were one and the same, "Where are you staying man?"


"Around the corner. At the Western."


"How is it?"


"Cheap enough."


"Cool. Maybe we can hang out."



"No. I aint your newest bestest friend. I'm here to work. I have no social life 'cause I don't want one. I leave this town to those that want it. I don't want it and I don't want to hang out."


"MAN, Will is a dick!"


"I told you, stay away from him. He'll fire you. Really though, he ain't a dick. He'll help you out and give you solid advice but he's real funny about who he lets close. Just don't piss him off. "


The Oklahoma winter melded into Oklahoma springtime.


William George figured there had to be an old adage about the weirdness that comes with blossoms and tornadoes because weirdness was hot on their heels.


As Mother Nature struggled, at times violently with her personalities, Spring fought for dominance.



Snow then rain then tornadoes then ice then blooms, blossoms and colors.


And, neighbors.


An older mechanic, came out from behind the desk and took his tool box out on the road. His gray hair and beard had immediately garnered him the nickname, “Kenny Rodgers”.



He was new to contracting. His attitude was fair and his experience deep but he was out of practice after years removed from the business of the hangar floor.


“Kenny Rodgers” took a room across the parking lot from William George and kept to himself.


One Friday afternoon a clatter outside drew William’s attention. A U-Haul truck was backed up to Room 11, next door.


Odd.


Saturday after work William returned ‘home’. As he entered the parking lot he saw an older woman, pencil thin and gray blonde. She was wearing a flowery house coat and large fuzzy slippers. At and around her feet swirled an over weight Chihuahua.


‘Don’t make eye contact for chrissakes.’


It didn’t matter. Before William had switched the engine to ‘Off’ there she was at the drivers window.


‘Great.’


“Hi! My name’s Sarah Jane.”, she thrust out her impossibly delicate hand.


William flashed his most insincere smile and briefly took the outstretched appendage, “William.”


The fat dog commenced her ‘talk to me talk to ME dance’, bouncing off of his shins. He looked down and groaned out loud.


“Oh, it’s OK. That’s my ‘Lola‘.” She lay heavily on the first syllable, Low-la.


“Hello Lola. Now go away.”


Door key at the ready, he retrieved the case of beer and groceries from the bed of the truck. Turning the key in the latch he heard the woman begin to speak as her Lola pressed her nose against the door jam.


A foot placed between the door jam and the dogs nose bought him exactly one foot of clearance as the dog pressed insistently. He raised his free hand, “I just got home from work. Nice to meet you Sarah Jane.”


He scooted the dog back (resisting the urge to punt the mutt), stepped inside and shut the door on the scene.


William put the groceries away and cracked the lid on a cold bottle of beer.


The weather was pleasant enough but there were storms building to the North and sliding slowly South. Unusual for springtime in Oklahoma. Traditionally spring storms built in the southwest and raced to the northwest.


Disappointed, he put grilling out on that first pleasant afternoon out of his plans and settled for a bologna sandwich, “Damn it.” He hoped Sunday’s weather would be “as advertised’ and the storms would hold off.


“Maybe she’ll be gone by then…”, it hit him, “The U-Haul… she’s never gonna leave!”


A loud exhaust diverted his attention. Not a finely tuned rumble but the boisterous cry of a neglected engine with a broken exhaust manifold.


Voices.


He snuck a peek from behind the curtain.


Sarah Jane and Lola were greeting another neighbor. ‘Great.’, she’ll have someone else to befriend.


He noticed that “Kenny Rodgers” pick-up was not in its space, “I don’t blame you. I’d rather be somewhere else too!”


Just after dark, a key or a coin tapped softly at the door. It was a key, he was sure. And, he was certain it was Sarah Jane and Lola.


He cracked the door, “Yes?”


“Could I buy a beer from you?” and held out a quarter. It was a coin after all. Her key must have been in the pocket of that freakishly loud flowery house coat.


He pushed the door to and went to the fridge.


When he turned his back she pushed the door open letting herself and her Lola in. Lola bounded straight up onto the bed.


Turning back with two beers, “Get that dog offa my bed!”


“It’s OK she knows you.”


“No she doesn’t. Get her offa my bed.”


Sarah Jane retrieved her Lola but instead of taking the beer and her quarter that William refused and leaving…


She sat on the tiny couch. Perched right on top of the stack of books and magazines adjacent to William’s spot at the laptop computer that perched on the ice chest cum coffee table.


William groaned out loud and tried to perform deep tissue massage on his own forehead.


“Drink your beer silly.”


‘’She’s old and bored and lonely and loveless and friendless and virtually homeless William. You can’t relate to that William? You can’t understand that?’’


William sighed out loud, “Get up a minute.” He gathered the books and magazines and carefully restacked them on an unused corner of the bed.


He twisted the top from a bottle of ‘Flying Dog Amber Ale’ and plopped down beside her on the tiny couch.


She proceeded to tell her story- She’d been ‘somebody’ in the social circles of the OKAY City, her mother was wealthy but wouldn’t share, it was for her own good, she needed to make it on her own but she had recently been evicted from yet another apartment, she worked at a diner right down the street, she was she was on a list to get a townhouse right down the street around the corner across the street from the Mexican Grocery, “Can I have another beer?”


Storms.


The war continued prevailing or failing, depending on who did the telling. The presidential campaign continued to fail, the candidates were pale examples of the same old guard, even with their change of race or their change of gender they were the same old same old. They touted change but they were still the same old same old. Any candidate that represented a real change was discounted or ignored by the press.

And the beat went on.

William George broke Lola from jumping on the bed. One quick punt put an end to that.

Sarah Jane drank beer and talked about her glory days.

William George watched the news or read a book or a magazine.

“Hillary Clinton is gonna save the world!”

“Huh?!”

“She has a plan!”

“Huh?! A plan?”

“Yeah! Hillary has a plan to save the world!”

“Huh?! What is it? What is ‘Billary’s’ plan to save the world?”

“Just watch TV.”

“Huh?! Hillary’s plan is to watch TV?”

“NO! Watch TeeVee!”

“NO! YOU TELL ME WHAT HILLARY’S PLAN IS!”
“Just watch Teevee!”

“No, you tell me. What is Hillary’s plan.”

“Watch Teevee!”

“Get the fuck outta here. You’re pissing me off.”

Then, Sarah Jane met a new fellow. She fell in love. She talked about how much money she would save if she moved in with the fellow. She went on and on about how wonderful it would be, saving money by moving in with the fellow.

It was all about money.

Mostly, her money. The dimes and dollars in her tip jar at the diner.

He proposed. She bought a ring. On credit. From a rent to own store.

Three days after she and her beaux met at the diner she tapped excitedly at Williams door.
“Look! Look at my ring! HE Proposed to me! We’re moving in! I’m going to save soooo much money!

“I think you missed the point.”

“No! No! You missed the point. I’m gonna save soooo much money.”

“OK, I missed the point.”

“Come over to my room. I want you to meet him!”


Hunter Thompson said, “When the going gets weird the weird go pro…” or something like that…
In the three months William had been holed up in the Western Inn, 1.1 miles from the hangar where he spent most of his time the weather had moved from winter to spring.

Warmth was overtaking cold. Leaves and grass were turning green.

Work had become a seven day a week roll. A rhythm.

In the world, wars continued. Progress was made or lost, depending on who did the telling. The never ending presidential campaign continued.

And there had been some odd occurrences at the Western Inn.

Odd knocks at odd hours of the night.

‘’Tap, tap, tap… at the door.

An older woman with a plastic shopping bag rapped at the door at two a.m.

“What?!”

“How much is a room here? My friend is in the office trying to get us a room.”

“I don’t know!”

“You wanna buy some hair clippers?”, she opened the bag.

“Do I look like I want to buy hair clippers? At two in the morning? Get the hell outta here!”’’

‘’Bang, bang, bang… at the door.

“What the hell do you want?!”

A young black man in hoodie, baggies and all the rest of the accouterment, “Take me to Taco Bell, it’s right down the street.”

“Get the fuck outta here!”’’

‘’Knock, knock, knock… at the door.

“What the… “Kenny Rodgers”? What’s up?”, William glanced over the old mans shoulder, “Where’s your truck?”

“Can you give me a ride to work?”

“Where’s your truck?”

“Can you give me a ride?”

“Yeah, sure, where’s your truck?”

“I spent the weekend in jail. Can you give me a ride or not?”

“Yeah, sure… I’ll get you to work. Sure…”

And…

Though there is a certain social convention that states: When you meet someone you extend your right hand and smile warmly. You shake their hand firmly but not too firmly and certainly not limply…

There are certain realities that state emphatically: Some people are not to be trusted, no matter how polished their smile or their hand shake.

As was the case one Sunday afternoon.

William was grilling a steak. The tail gate of the Dodge was down and providing a perfect table in front of Room 12.

Mr. Busted Exhaust Manifold emerged from Room 9.

‘Dumbass, you made eye contact! Why did you…?’

“Hi! I’m Reid Green, in Room 9.”, he stuck out his hand. His hand shake was firm but not too firm and not limp.

William shook his hand, firmly but not to firm and pressed his index finger into the soft tissue at junction of ‘Room 9’s’ wrist bones while looking the man in the eyes.

“I’m a welder. We’re building a new prison.”

William nodded.

“I make good money but it’s a long drive to work and back.”

William nodded and turned the steak on the grill.

“What do you do? What was your name again?”

“William, I work on airplanes.”

“At Will Rogers?”

“No.”, William pointed towards the smaller airport 1.1 miles to the north.
William went inside to check the potato in the microwave.

“Hey, what kind of guitar is that?”

“Stratocaster.”, William closed the door.

“What do they pay you to work on ‘planes?”

“Not enough.”

“I make $12.00 an hour to weld up the new prison. It’s a long drive from here.”

“Good for you.”

“What do you make?”

“Enough.”

“I almost didn’t get the job at the prison. I just got out. I’m a convicted felon.”

“Good for you.”

“How much do you make and hour?”

“My dinner is ready. Good luck with the job.” William double checked the locked truck and carried the steak inside Room 12.

The steak went down. The sun went down. The beer went down. Sated, William went down…
Somewhere in the night…

“GET ON THE GROUND! GET ON THE GROUND! GET ON THE GROUND OR I’LL BLOW YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!!! GET ON THE GROUND!!!!!”

William bolted up in bed, looking for the ground…

“GET ON THE FUCKING GROUND!”

Red and blue lights bled around the tightly drawn curtains.

'Looks like Mr. Prison Builder is going back to be a regular old prison resident.'

...

4 comments:

Steve at the Pub said...

A very compelling and easily identified with yarn.

Bob Barbanes said...

First, loved it. Loved the Talking Heads reference :) Loved the characters - - except the that the protagonist seems a little surly. Sounds like me in my younger days. He's been through a lot, I suppose, that "William George." Rough times, maybe. Or does living on the road do that to ya? How much of that is autobiographical?

It's been a long time since I've interacted with such people (itinerants?) in any way. Long time since I've heard people's stories - we all have them, and they are all important and terribly fascinating...to them. And they're all worth listening to, if for no other reason than the person usually needs to be telling it.

One hopes for "William George" that he finds the peace and contentment that so far seems to be eluding him. The question is, will there be a happy ending to this saga?

Good stuff!

Greybeard said...

This comment to your "Western Inn, Part II" post...
Liked it, a lot.
You sure you've never worked on fling-wings?

DAVID said...

Steve, Thanks for stopping by. Should we wind up in the same pub yer next pint is on me. "Yarn", I like that. It's more like a thread. I need to twist more of them together to make yarn and needle them together.

Bob, autobiographical? After two long years I figure you can tell. Answer, Largely yes. Everything in the Western Inn HAPPENED. I have a couple of nuggets to add to the final draft. (Gotta make it worth a re-read!)

Seems you told me you weren't a big fan of Joe Ely. Ely has a song called "Letter to L.A". '...don't forget, those lost souls in your shadows, they're friends of mine...' To me 'tales of woe' are a lot more compelling than 'tales of dough'. {Don't miss understand me. I met a guy yesterday that wrote a check for two brand new airplanes... a G4 AND a G5!}

I think "William George" has gotten pretty surley. In part because he's spoiled at work. And, as a defense mechanism. I've seen "Him" get that way before, in Teguc. "He" really is an easy going guy but when he's faced with futility, he recognizes it.

Graybeard! I've heard of you. Thanks for the comment. To answer your question, "Nope". My first two disapointments in avaition were related to "Rotor Floaters". While finishing A&P school I narrowly missed a job working on a Hughes 500 on a tuna boat in Panama!

Thanks Guys. Stay Tuned!