Checking In, Checking Out

I’m coming to you live from my dorm room where I should be fast asleep, getting some much needed rest before finals week.  I think we both know that there was a fat chance of that ever happening.  Right around finals I always seem to become quite fatalistic.  Que sera, sera and all that jazz.

Because I can’t think of a good segue, I’ll just jump right in.  A few nights ago I went on another urban exploring adventure to an old motel about an hour away from campus.  It was right smack in the middle of nowhere so I knew cops weren’t that big of a threat, but the location was next to a busy highway and a gas station.  To me, it would definitely be worth the risk.

I’d seen the motel on the way back from a spontaneous day trip and I hadn’t been able to get it out of my mind ever since.  There were three buildings that made up the property and I thought they looked beautiful, what with the reddish-brown and turquoise color scheme.  At first I wasn’t even sure if the motel was abandoned, but after a little research I determined that it shut down about 5 months ago.  The only real clues that it was closed for business would have to be the absence of cars in the parking lot and the tall weeds sprouting from all the cracks in the pavement.

Here’s an aerial view of the main complex from commercialsearch.com

I was kind of scared that we’d end up busting into a room and frightening a weary business man who was in bed watching an old rerun of Seinfeld or something.

Nevertheless, I still headed out there one evening with my coworker and her boyfriend.

I was excited because my lock picking set had just arrived in the mail and I couldn’t wait to try it out.  The practice lock it had come with posed no real challenge for me.  I was confident that the motel doors would be quite simple to pick, as long as there were no deadbolts.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to practice as much as I would’ve liked.  There aren’t too many locks in the dorms aside from the ones on your neighbor’s doors.  My own dorm lock was quickly picked by yours truly, but I broke it in the process.  Oops.  (Luckily I was able to get it replaced for free, since I claimed that it suddenly stopped working out of the blue.)

Either way, I figured if I couldn’t pick the locks on the doors I could always just do the old credit card trick and we’d get inside just fine.

When we arrived at the motel it was nighttime and a storm was brewing.  Total horror movie weather.  I half expected Freddy Kruger to be waiting for us at the bottom of the motel’s pool or something.  But no, there was only a hubcap, a bucket, and an life preserver in the sludgy green water.

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I was a little nervous when we pulled into the complex because there were two cars in the parking lot.  The truck had a flat tire so we reckoned that they hadn’t been moved in a while, but I didn’t want to startle anyone who might have been living in one of the vehicles.  We didn’t see another soul that night, thank goodness.

The porch lights were all still on… it was eerie.

The first attempt at breaking into a room proved unsuccessful.  Apparently my lock picking skills weren’t as good as I’d hoped, and the credit card trick was useless.  I think I’m going to invest in a bump key for next time.  Andrew* finally just took a screwdriver and pried open the door.

Most of the furniture was still there, but the rooms themselves were a mess.  Some had carpet torn up, some had the air conditioning units ripped out of the walls, in one we found a big ball of insulation in the bathtub, etc.  There was a TV on every single nightstand.  That really made me wonder.  Why was this motel abandoned in such a hurry that these things weren’t hauled away or sold?

Perhaps the creepiest moment came when we walked into the third or fourth unit.  There was an armchair positioned in the middle of the room directly in front of the mirror.  Not the TV, the mirror.  I got chills up my spine when I saw that, but I’m easily spooked so I tried to just brush it off.  We poked around for a few minutes, then turned to leave.

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I grabbed the doorknob and twisted.  It refused to budge.  I fiddled with the lock.  Still nothing.

“Uh, guys?” I said in a shaky voice.  We had two seconds before I busted a window.

Luckily, Andrew remained calm and jimmied us out of there with our trusty screwdriver, but I’d been rattled.

We poked around a little more (and discovered some lovely graffiti), but decided to leave once Claire* said she found evidence that someone might be living in a room.  Apparently there were bags of clothes and blankets in one of the units.

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All in all, it was a nice urban exploring trip to distract me from the exams that are coming up.

Hope you’re having a great week,

-V

P.S.  I’ve submitted the manuscript of my latest novel to several agents, so hopefully I’ll hear back from them in a few weeks.  I’ve already gotten a few rejection letters but I’m not discouraged!

Actually, I participated in the Twitter event where on April 19th, marginalized writers were encouraged to tweet a pitch for their novels that had diverse characters and themes with the hashtag #DVpit.  (My book is about teen mental illness and features a queer protagonist, so if that’s not diverse I don’t know what is.)  If a literary agent liked your tweet, that meant they were interested in your idea and wished to receive a query letter from you.  I didn’t expect much, so I was ecstatic when an agent liked my tweet.

My fingers are crossed!

 

*Names have been changed