Prompt 008: Motel


Photography by Todd Hido, an American artist and photographer with a wealth of experience and whose work focuses on housing, both urban and suburban, and landscapes across America. See plenty more of Todd’s great work on his website,

From out of fatigued eyes he spotted a sign promising fuel and food and beds so Ìñigo rolled the sedan into the service station and parked it out of view of the passing traffic. It seemed late to him but there was still purple light in the sky as the sun started its descent behind distant clouds. Across the forecourt he walked, barely concealing a limp and trying to ignore the pool of blood that was collecting in his left boot, to a dimly lit administrative cabin where a young man sat behind a desk and rose to attention when he entered. A radio hidden under the desk hissed as Ìñigo asked if they had any rooms. The man replied that they did.

“No room service. No cleaning. Nothing. I am not feeling good. Privacy please.” Ìñigo requested with conviction and stared at the clerk with a grimace. An attempted smile. The clerk hesitated, laughed nervously.

“Ok sir, I understand. Sure thing. Just be sure to leave your key with us when you go.” He was young, perhaps not long in the job, and kept glancing out onto the forecourt. It struck Ìñigo that the clerk was nervous – whether that was down to inexperience or Ìñigo’s presence he did not know for sure. Maybe he had detected his desperation. In a wavering voice he asked for payment and a signature.

Ìñigo grunted, Sí. It was the last of his money. The clerk took the cash, avoiding eye contact where possible. Once the payment had been made he led Ìñigo across the car park to an unremarkable room, finished and furnished with modest decor. As requested the window faced away from the motorway but it still sounded close, so once the cashier handed over the keys and left, Ìñigo shut the window and drew the blinds.

He began to run a bath and found a battery powered radio on the bedside table which he brought into the bathroom and turned the dial until he was listening to a talk show about sports. They spoke quickly and with passion and vigour and he could understand little of it but their voices meant he was not left alone with his own thoughts. He lowered himself into the bath and cleaned his wounds and stifled his cries while he sat there. Sat there until the room grew dark and only once he began to shiver in that cold pink water did he get out.

On his bed he lay still but did not sleep. He turned on the television and stalked through channels of static to no avail which illuminated the room in bright white light but he would not get up to alter the settings. Instead Ìñigo flung the remote at the wall, rolled over on to his front and screamed into the depths of a pillow. He cried and he may have slept but when he lifted his head from the tangled sheets it was morning.

The television had found a program for him, one in his native tongue and for a moment he forgot he was in a foreign country, scared and alone and tired. He thought he could hear his name being called and his family were near, and his friends, and they were all together conversing in spanish and laughing and drinking wine. When he came back to the motel room with light creeping in from under the door and around the blinds he knew then that he must go home.

© Nicholas J. Parr, 2015

  1. JAKA said:

    An excellent piece of writing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: