I get lots of good prompts from http://www.thinkingten.com. I may pull this one out for a new task….
The only emotion I felt when I opened the oily glass door to the lobby of the motel was surprise. Not surprise at the moldy stench or the dirty carpet or the “America’s Most Wanted” aura surrounding the man at the check-in desk. I was surprised that I was surprised; I mean, what did I expect from a motel called The Back Door Inn? Chandeliers and a doorman? I knew better than that, and I knew I couldn’t afford to be picky.
FBI Poster man looked me up and down as I walked toward the desk. I knew I looked out of place. I had on a conservative black skirt, a silk blouse buttoned up to the neck, and my hair was in a nondescript bun at the nape of my neck. Funny how I always dressed so conservatively. This man had probably seen all manner of women and men and not-quite-sures. And yet I always wanted to look like the woman I had been and not the woman I was. Maybe it would have made him more comfortable to know that my fishnets were tucked into my large purse, along with an arsenal of makeup, perfumes, and tacky , bling-embossed combs. If he had seen the underwear not sold at respectable department stores hidden under my clothing, I would not have seemed to him to be so out of place. But money is money no matter how tight a woman’s bun, and the twenty-five dollars I tossed onto the greasy desk was enough to make him smile and hand me a key.
Room 123 was not too far down the hallway, but far enough from the desk to make me feel safer. Again, why did I care? I didn’t know anyone in this neighborhood, and I would never see the check in clerk again. Who cares who heard or saw me? But that wasn’t the point, and all this thinking was not why I was here. I was here because I had to be, and I repeated the room number to myself in a whisper as I texted it to the phone number I had pre-programmed into my phone. The same message as always: Room 123. Five minutes. Knock seven times.
As soon as I walked into the small room, the first thing I did was strip off the comforter. I knew these places; they never washed the comforters. I pulled out a small bottle of antibacterial fabric refresher, hoping it would waft through the air enough to mask some of the stale smell in the room. Then I settled into the small bathroom. The routine was ingrained. Fishnet thigh-highs clipped to the garters, hair taken out of the bun and swept into a comb, makeup enhanced to comical proportions, and blouse unbuttoned to reveal the cleavage enhanced by the lace bra. Skirt waistband folded once, twice, to raise the hemline. And don’t look in the mirror at the finished product.
The knocks – seven crisp sounds – signaled that transformation time was over. And the timing was perfect. It was enough time for me to become someone else, but not enough time for me to ask myself how the hell I got here.