It was a short drive to the Mount Shasta City Lodge, a tired two story unkempt motel complete with an unmarked gravel parking lot littered with weeds. On either story stretched rows of identical chocolate colored doors standing out against the beige stucco walls. The architecture was an ugly reminder of the 1970’s, and looked as if neither fresh paint nor pressure washer had touched the building since its grand opening.
City Lodge were the only words left shining on the glowing neon sign; flickering every now and again threatening to go dark. Much like the neon sign out front, the motel, too, was completely dark save for the lit reception area just beyond the main entrance.
“We could sleep in the car.” Ivan offered through a mouth full of cheese puffs as Jack parked in front of the motel.
“What? And miss a chance at being murdered in our sleep by a deranged knife wielding inbred psychopath? Surely you jest, sir! Surely you jest!”
“You joke, but dude back at the gas station fits the bill for psycho serial killer. I bet there’s all kinds of missing persons cases that could be solved if someone were to dig up that parking lot.”
“No way, dude. The last time we slept in the car I woke up with you cuddled up to me drooling down my favorite jacket. I love you and all, but I don’t love you that much.”
“First, yes you do! Second, I wiped it off with a napkin…”
“That had ketchup on it.”
“Fine. But if we die, it’s your fault!”
“Fine. And you can give me shit about it for all eternity when we’re in Hell.”
Jack was first out of the car pulling his backpack from the clutter in the backseat. Throwing the backpack over his shoulder he grabbed his black corduroy jacket from the floorboard and tossed it at Ivan as he stepped out of the car.
“See! It still smells like ketchup.”
“Fuck you.” Ivan tossed the jacket back into the car and grabbed his olive drab canvas satchel.
“Be gentle. I love that jacket!”
Inside fluorescent lights buzzed overhead reflecting off sterile tile floors. The reception area wreaked of old mops and standing water. Dust bunnies clustered in every corner and under the two plastic chairs in the waiting area. A lone desk with a grizzled middle-aged man sat on the far end of the room.
He sat with his feet reclined on the desk chuckling at an episode of the Twilight Zone on a small portable television. He ignored Ivan and Jack as they stood at his desk waiting for him to acknowledge them.
After several moments Jack cleared his throat with great exaggeration adding in a couple coughs for emphasis. The man rolled his eyes, ran a grubby hand through his thinning grease matted hair, and shifted his head in their direction.
“What?” His voice, graveled like the parking lot, carried with it disdain and impatience.
“A room. You have those, right? Can we get one?” Jack returned the disdain with his own sarcasm.
The man eyed Jack and Ivan with suspicion. “I got one room with two beds.”
“One room, huh? All booked up? We’re in such luck to get your one room with two whole beds.”
“One room. Want it or not?”
“We’ll take it.”
“Eighty bucks. How you payin’?”
“Eighty bucks? For a room? Here? We paying for the cockroaches in the room as well? Is there a continental breakfast?”
“No breakfast. Eighty bucks.”
“Goddammit. Take cash?” Jack pulled out his wallet counted out five tens, three fives, seven ones, and fished out a fistful change. He dropped the money unceremoniously on the man’s desk and watched as he gathered it up and counted it all.
“You’re a nickel short.” The man grumbled.
It was Ivan’s turn to contribute. He pulled a quarter from his pocket and threw it on the desk. “Keep the change.”
The man pocketed the cash before rummaging through his desk. He held out a key connected to a brass tab with the numbers “208” stamped on it.
“Out the door, up the stairs, last door on the right.” He pointed to the main door as Jack snatched away the key. “And don’t push the beds together! I don’t want any of that faggy shit in my motel!”
“Fuck you. Don’t spend all that money O.D.’ing on whatever shit you smoke.”
“Check out’s at noon!” The greasy man bellowed after Jack.
Ivan raised a middle finger high in the air as they walked out the front door.
“If you make it through the night.”
He waited for the pair to round the corner out of sight before picking up his phone and dialing. It rang several times before someone picked up on the other end. He didn’t wait for the person to speak. “Looks like it’s gonna be one helluva festival. Got a young couple of faggots holed up in 208, spread the word.”
He hung up, kicked up his feet, and returned to chuckling at the television on his desk.