In June of 1998, I was seventeen years old, newly graduated, and ready to smoke and drink the hell outta my summer! To say I was less than excited to learn my parents had collaborated yet another family vacation with my Aunt Alice and Uncle Pat, is an understatement. I knew better, or better put MY PARENTS knew better to ponder one second on the idea of me staying home. The only saving grace was that my cousins Katie, who was my age, and her little brother Kevin, two years younger,were along for the hall, too. I was an only child; Katie and Kevin were the equivalent of my brother and sister, so the trip couldn’t be all that bad. We were ALL going to the Smokey Mountains and we were ALL going to have a fun and memorable time. No one knew, yet, of the memories that awaited.
It was near midnight when the stop of my mom’s ’94 Cavalier forced me awake. I nudged Katie to get up as my aunt’s green Caravan pulled up alongside us. “Where are we?” Katie asked, as she let out a yawn. I surveyed the parking lot, glanced up and laughed, “Music City ‘Otor’ Inn” pointing to the red, flickering, neon sign that topped the motel. Just then, Kevin emerged out of the van and came up to my window.
“Check this place out!” he said. His voiced was filled fifteen-year old, boyhood excitement. “I think that’s a hooker over there! He discretely nudged his head in the direction of a women in a spandex, leopard-print dress, with matching stilettos.
“Shit. We are on the WRONG side of Nashville, what the hell?” I said back to him and we started laughing. By this time, I could overhear my mom suggesting that we drive a little further into to town to find a more suitable place to sleep for the night. Unfortunately, her plea fell on the deaf, tired, completely stubborn, and mildly inebriated ears of my uncle.
This was no Best Western. This place wasn’t even comparable to a Motel 6! As we walked up the concrete steps to the second floor of the motel, we passed several discarded 40′s wrapped in paper bags and hear the sounds of sirens in the not-too-far distance. I teasingly asked my dad if he had to pay by the hour. My humor at the present moment, clearly, did not amuse him, as I received no response. I still could not pass up the opportunity for jokes and as we entered the run-down room, I pondered out loud, ” I bet Dolly stayed in this very room. I can just feel her presence here, can’t you?” I still received no bounce-back jokes from my dad. This was clearly not his idea but he obviously didn’t want to argue with my drunk uncle over his stellar choice in motels.
It was as if we had been transported to a scene from a 70′s porno. The decor; dim, amber lighting; and smell all screamed DIRTY! My eyes canvassed the room and stopped on the wall just above the two queen-sized beds. No, I was not admiring the room’s artwork. My eyes were fixed on, what looked like huge blood splatters. I gasped and pointed, “Mom!”
“Oh, Abby. It’s probably just soda.” I was definitely not convinced.
“I’m not sleeping on these sheets!” I stated through my teeth.
My mom responded in her most-motherly voice. “You girls get your sleeping bags out and sleep on top of quilt. It’s only one night and we will be gone before you know it. Just ge t some sleep.” Katie was not one to rebel so she headed to the bed. I crawled in my sleeping bag, using it as a protective barrier and sat in the yellow, pleather chair in front of the TV. Thank God this piece of shit, scum-ball motel had cable.
I sat up all night in the chair, questioning what sort of filth lay hidden around me. Music videos, cop sirens, and my thoughts kept me occupied. I wondered what the motel clerk must have thought when he saw our two families pull into the parking lot earlier. I also wondered what my idiot friends were doing back at home while I was stuck in the Roach Motel.
Soon enough, the sun rose, and before long my Aunt Alice was knocking on the door with video camera in hand. “This is just to unbelievable not get on tape!” she said with a rested laugh. She scrolled over the room, getting every nearly every preposterous detail to show to anyone who dared disbelieve our verbal accounts of the No-tell, Motel. She said our blood stained wall trumped their moldy doughnut under the bed.
Laughing hysterically, my mom noted,”Nothing beats the cum-stained chair Abby sat in all night!”
I shot her a glare of disgusting disbelief. “I’m sorry, Ab. I just didn’t have the heart to tell ya and I really didn’t wanna hear any more bitching!”
We packed up in no time at all and headed towards Gatlinburg. About a half mile down the road stood a big Holiday Inn advertising a HUGE indoor swimming pool…No one said a word.