I am sitting at the table in a cheap hotel off Conz Street. There is football on the TV, but I do not know who’s playing. I have taken all the money out of our bank account and talked my way into a hotel room with cash and no credit card on file. I’m wearing an old t-shirt and soccer shorts, no socks, and loafers. It’s the first day of 2017, and the temperature in Northampton is thirty-one degrees.
I am scratching words into the notepad that I’ve pulled from the desk drawer, while someone on the TV runs for a gain of seventeen. I write one sentence that’s promising, but everything looks weak under hotel branded letterhead. I dice it up with box cutter replacement blades I’ve stolen from a Home Depot in Hadley. I do this a few times. The notepad is getting thin.
Through the window of my room, I watch a car pull in and idle. A young man steps out but leaves the car running for a girl inside. She’s glancing at her phone while he’s paying for their room. She zips up her parka, and she’s playing with her hair. He doesn’t give her a room key, but he opens the passenger door for her, and the two walk past my window. They’ve not packed anything.
I run the shower, guessing at how to make the water hotter, and lie down on the bed while the mirror slowly fogs. I change the channel and catch the last five minutes of Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show (they’ve rerun because she’s gone). I cut the corners off a fifty-dollar bill from the middle of my wallet, and settle in to watch whatever HBO plays next. It’s “Batman vs. Superman,” and by the time it’s over, the shower’s running cold, and the mirror looks like it’s crying.
I write a note for myself— four sentences that I think sound good together— and fold it in my wallet.
In the morning, the young man’s car is gone, and outside it’s gotten colder. I throw away the blades and geometric scraps of paper, pay my bill, and leave, and somewhere outside of Chicopee, I take the note, unfold it, rip it across the middle, and throw it out the window. It didn’t mean a thing. I’ll write some more tomorrow.