Walks, 1.C.3, 600 words

With the exception of letting out the room the night manager is occupied by sleep, though Twill is incredulous of its depth. So often does the man visit it that its parlor must be near, just across a tissue veil from which he can see back to this world. Drawn out of his room at twilight, Twill hazards to press against the glass. Ratifying his suspicion the napping night manager squints up his watchcap toward the window but fails to sort through the reflections that build across Twill, sees himself tired and vague, perhaps not fully assembled in this world, and lets the cap heal back over his eyes. Twill walks across the chalk court and road over the rock field beneath the horizon to where it begins to turn up again to the mountains. A long milky braid of dunes threads out. The face of the night manager winks like a milky cutout over his blues, greened by the cold light and ferrous glass. Twill stumbles in the loose stones. He watches the motel from the dark in which he can’t see his hands. A hot homecoming glow flushes the window of his night neighbors’ room. A seasick face comes between the curtain and the window smoothed out behind the condensation that its hand hooks to wipe down. An oily deep-set fog still obscures the face in the lamp glare. Twill roughs it in with the lost face of the traveler who had turned to probe the dark soaking his room the other morning. For his knowledge that is the best he can place upon the blur. The curtain remains ajar. Twill climbs back out of the rock field tempted by the light across the dark chalk court. Brown, gaseous shadows tumble on the less brown walls. A flutter in the silence of bats arriving in the court briefly presages the mercury lights that shiver up followed closely by the hand pulling shut the curtain. Night and day whirl. At twilight Twill absently walks out across the chalk court. He sits at the edge of the rock field watching for the dunes to move and falling asleep in their sand. He sleeps the morning in his chair. At twilight, visible through mountain reflections, the night manager sleeps on the cot behind his transaction window. His watch cap is pulled over his eyes. A stick pen that has slid from the breast pocket of his chambray stands upright from the fragrant canvas between his neck and shoulder. The two chairs out upon the pad show hard, inhuman spindles and upright edges. Twill steals to room TWO and listens on his knees to the air conditioner below the window. The hum steals voice and life. A vent of lamplight rises above the sill through which only the wall behind the beds is visible. Lights mounted to the wall burn. He hazards to creep upward. Immediately below the sill a flayed skin smiles in a drape over the back of a chair. Hair is pressed into dark oil and milky jelly teeth catch green from the mercury lamps like a glistening kiss. Two shadows converge and advance on the wall. Twill runs from the arcade into the chalk court where a steel cloud unburdens the valley night of stars but doesn’t rain. Slipping from fear into the soothing skirts of a lost habit he walks deliberately across the chalk road and rock field to the thin taper of the dune edge. The distance is consoling. The trapped motel light from here is pregnant with drowsiness. It keeps adrift rooms from becoming homes.

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