The taste of cigarettes and cheap bourbon was stale in my mouth as I lay naked on my back, my eyes contemplating the old ceiling fan that whirred slowly overhead but my mind barely taking in its existence. Instead, I could think only of the soft hands that ran slowly and sensuously over my body, the sharp tips of their blood red nails leaving soft but stinging trails in my skin, and the sweet smell of perfume that hit my nostrils and seemed to seep into every pore like some insidious and instantly addictive narcotic.
The motel was seedy, but the rooms were dark, the price was right, and it was just enough off the beaten track to not attract too much attention. As our bodies became lost in the heat they were generating, I guessed that it wouldn’t have been the first time that more than one of the Ten Commandments had been broken within the seamy confines of Unit 12, with the cracked plaster and peeling wallpaper that looked like it hadn’t been changed – or even properly cleaned - since MacArthur made his infamous return to the blood-soaked shores of the Philippines. The Gideon’s Bible that sat in the top drawer of the Formica dressing table likewise looked as if it had remained untouched, save perhaps for the odd preacher who used it to pray forgiveness for his soul after having his way with some poor lost lamb who had unwittingly strayed her way into his revival tent.
I looked up and caught a glimpse of her face as it became momentarily illuminated by the harsh glow of the blue and pink neon that buzzed off and on outside our window, advertising the motel and its vacancies as if it were a dirty set of cheap women’s underclothes. I couldn’t say that I was in love with this woman….all I knew was that I needed her to live as much as I needed the oxygen that filled my lungs. But I knew what we were doing was immoral and wicked, and as much as I tried not to give a damn, I was always fighting within myself to overcome the feelings of guilt and ambiguity that often flowed and ebbed within me, like a tsunami that washed up onto an island shore before receding back into the ocean, leaving a trail of annihilation and broken lives in its wake.
She was the first dame I’d met in well over twenty years who made me go weak at the knees, and tremble inside like some pathetic little school kid who’d just been hit by his first case of puppy love. As much as I hated the mental seizures she brought about in me, the touch of her flesh and the warmth of her lips were like no other, and she was able to take me as close to heaven on earth as I’m ever likely to come. But deep down inside, I knew heaven was the last place I was likely to end up. The suitcase full of dirty cash, with the warm revolver and wedding band sitting on top of it, told me I was roaring down a one-way street to the big hot house downstairs. If my usual luck held out, my ticket would arrive in the form of a few thousand volts.
Where things are likely to go from this point on, I don’t think either of us really knows. Embezzlement and murder have a habit of keeping you on the move. Perhaps we don’t want to know where we are heading, or how long it will last. As much as we may try to deny it – to both ourselves and each other - the excitement and danger of the unknown is one of those invisible ties which bind us so tightly together, and makes staying alive for just one more day worth the effort.
Copyright John Harrison 2012