So far I am grateful for two things: that my uncle’s credit card hasn’t maxed out, and that the weather here is overcast.I can’t stand the stars anymore. It’s too real.
I drive during the day, I only stop for gas. My radio is always on, it is always loud. I have been Motel hopping.
I hadn’t slept in two days.
The first night on the Road I turned in before sunset and found a motel that let me park my car directly in front of my room. The GoPro on the trunk of my car was set to film the door to my room the whole night. I kept my portable radio on as loud as I could without pissing off my neighbors. Then I waited.
That first night I was inside before the sun had set, but after driving all day I was pretty hungry. I know I should have stopped to eat while I was on the road, but honestly, it was hard enough for me to not be within earshot of my car’s radio. My uncle seemed pretty convinced that the “owls” only came out at night, but honestly, there is no way of knowing if that is true. Buying the GoPro and the portable radio was nerve-wracking, only being near the sonorous tunes of the radio helped me stay calm. So, while there was still light out, and after I got set up, I ordered pizza.
The delivery guy was late.
My stomach was turning, cramping even. I kept my blinds open just a tad to see outside and kept the radio near me. An hour went by. Then an hour and a half. It was dark out. When he showed he didn’t knock.
“Pizza’s here!” the twenty-something local said. He just stood outside, pizza bag in hand. He was already looking directly at me when I peeked at him. He would not pass the hood of my car, he would not get in front of my GoPro.
The radio started to fry.
“Pizza’s here! Aren’t you hungry? I bet you’re hungry.”
I covered my window completely. The static on the radio grew more intense. I did not dare move from where I stood. “You don’t have to pay if it’s late,” he said. I was frozen in place. I counted every second of that minute, kept my breathing shallow. I stared at the door’s knob, hoping to god that it didn’t turn. At the end of the minute the static faded, then the sweet sound of music played again.
I wish that I hadn’t, but I peeked out from behind the blinds then. The pizza guy was gone, and the motel’s parking lot glowed a dull orange from the street lamps. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was too early for that.
Out near the street, standing on the edge of the road was four owls. All of them looking directly at me… No, into me.
I understand why my uncle kept his windows totally blind now.
I spent that night much how I spent the one in my uncle’s trailer: terrified and without sleep. I was on the road the very second the day of light pierced the morning dark. I slept in my car with the radio at full volume parked on the side of the road. I slept too late.
I tried to find a motel room early this time and had the sense to at least stop at a drive-through for food. The first motel I came across, however, did not have any rooms available on the ground floor. “You can have one on the second or third,” the attendant said sweetly, she didn’t even question why I had a portable radio, she just smiled. “I’d be willing to give you a deal,” she said. I looked to see if she had a shadow. The radio never once frayed. I was getting paranoid.
“No thank you,” I said as I left.
It was risky, but it was necessary. I needed a room that my car could park in front of. I was far out into the country, however, and the sun was beginning to set. I drove faster than I have ever dared. I eventually found another motel, but by then I could not be too picky. They had a vacancy on the ground floor, I could park my car there. The light outside had become a dull purple. I took the room and nearly ran there.
There was a problem.
The motel was pretty shady, and there isn’t enough hyperbole in the world to overstate just how shitty it was. If the front desk had no lights, I would have assumed it was abandoned. My window had only one blind to cover just one side.
The static on my radio began to cackle before I got fully inside. I don’t think I have ever slammed a door behind me that hard.
I ran straight behind the only blinds, knowing that it didn’t hide me. I just didn’t want to see them. The cackling stopped. Nothing happened for a very long time.
It was impossible not to look out my window. I knew that it wasn’t over, and I wondered how my uncle had dealt with this for as long as he did. I sadly wondered if I would ever see him again. By one in the morning, I saw my first owl.
By two in the morning, there was half a dozen of them. They stood beneath a street lamp. They had no shadows. Their eyes as dark as the void that we call the sky. Each eye looking at me, or where I was going to move before I knew I was going to be there. The radio static was constant.
By three in the morning the owls had disappeared, all at once, the moment I blinked. My radio went back to normal. I closed my eyes and breathed in deep, when I opened them, she was there.
Standing next to my car was a blonde woman, scantily dressed with red lipstick and long legs. “Hey there tiger,” she said with a hand on her hip. “What’s your name?”
I did not answer.
“Why don’t you come out and show a lonely girl a good time?”
I didn’t move.
The radio frayed just slightly.
“You can show me a good time, right handsome?”
The street lamp in the distance shut off.
“Is this your car?” She asked as she went to its locked door. She smiled a Mona Lisa grin.
She opened it with no resistance…
[Part 1.] [Part 3.]
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