I am working on an A-Z challenge, this one featuring short pieces of fiction. Today’s letter is V for Vacancy.
What Every Man Wants
The sign outside the motel read “Vacancy.” What Brandon saw in front of him was not what he was hoping for, but it was better than having to spend the night in the back seat of his compact car. There was a lot to be said for that, especially since the temperature had fallen well into the forties, and no amount of persuasion could convince him that he would get more than a smattering of sleep. Besides, this wasn’t the best part of town, so what more could he expect?
The motel was one of those dilapidated affairs, with a string of rooms which ran perpendicular to the highway, so the farther away from the roadway you were, the less exposure to the sounds and smells of the big diesel trucks there would be. With that in mind, he requested a room as far from the front of the motel as possible. Once inside, Brandon was hoping that after driving more than fourteen hours, nothing would prevent him from getting a good night’s sleep.
He was trying to make it from San Diego to Seattle in two days, and he was fairly certain that he was on track. Originally, he thought about flying, but when he compared the price of an airline ticket, plus car rental, to the price of gasoline, as high as it was, he decided that driving was the better ticket. Besides, if he drove, then he could bring all of the clothes and food that he would need, without having to contend with suitcases on the airplane. All in all, he felt he had made the right choice, even if the fifty bucks he had just plunked down for his room, was not originally in his computations.
Inserting the key into the door, he shouldered it aside, and dumped his suitcase on the bed, and put the double-bagged sack of provisions on the wobbly table under the window. After making use of the facilities, he closed the curtain, and looked around for a thermostat, so that he could crank up the heat. Seeing none, he realized that the radiator was an old-fashioned arrangement, with simply an off/on knob, so he gave it a twist, and set it on the highest point on the dial. He turned away from the heater, and headed back to the bed, where he found the remote, and more out of habit than any genuine interest, he flicked on the television, and began to scan the band.
When the knock came on the front door, it startled him, and he jumped involuntarily. Walking over to the door, he paused and asked, “Yes? Who is it?” There was no peephole to peer through, and he felt a little too cautious to just open the door.
“You don’t know me; my name’s Sally,” came a feminine voice, “and if you will open the door, you won’t regret it. I have something that I think you will want.” The voice was sultry and inviting.
Brandon wondered what that was supposed to mean, but he still hesitated. “I’m not sure what you’re selling, but I’m pretty sure I have everything I need. Thank you, anyway.” He had a pretty good idea what she was selling; thanks, but no thanks.
Instead of leaving, the voice continued, “I think you may change your mind, once you open the door. Every man wants what I have to offer,” she went on, “especially men on the road. I have a money-back guarantee on what I’m selling, so you can’t lose.”
A money-back guarantee? Brandon scoffed at that. After all, he had a girl friend in San Diego, and the last thing he was interested in was female companionship and the risks that accompanied it. “No thank-you. I’m in good shape. Thanks, anyway.” There, that was easy, he thought.
“Listen, Honey. You ain’t even seen the merchandize; how can you be so sure?” The voice had taken on a slight edge of desperation, which was not lost on Brandon.
“I don’t need to see the merchandize, if I already know that it’s not for me. What I really need is sleep, and you’re keeping me from it. Good night,” Brandon said, with what he thought was a note of finality.
“What’s the matter, Big Guy? Are you afraid?” That edge in her voice sounded sharper.
“No. Should I be?” What would it take to convince this person that he was not interested?
“Oh, come on, Sugar. Only opening the door will allow you to see that you’re the one who’s about to miss the boat.”
“Well, my boat has already left the dock, so not to worry. Good night!” WIth that he walked away from the door, and over to the window, where, without drawing the curtain, he could see, sideways, the area right out in front of his door.
There, on either side of the door jamb, were two figures, dressed in baggy black clothes, perched on either side of the woman, and seemingly ready to pounce on anyone who opened the door from the inside. Taking one of the two chairs away from the table, he wedged it under the handle to the door, and called 911. He may have missed the boat, but he would live to sail again, down in San Diego. Say goodnight, Sally.