Bluebird Inn – I

It was 9:00 PM, Kevin was about to close up for the night when a car pulled up at the Bluebird Motor Inn. She seemed distraught; her eyes were puffy as if she had been crying for days. She glanced furtively at the crackling neon sign that read, “B-UE-IRD M-TOR INN”. She wasn’t sure she wanted to spend the night here and I could see the uncertainty on her face that lasted less than a second before she resolutely stepped into the lobby.

She asked Kevin if she could get a room for the night. He gave her the once over, running various scenarios in his brain about her special circumstances. He took in her rich clothes, the make of her car, the pearl necklace around her neck and her tear-stained face as he tried to understand what a woman like her was doing on a desolate section of the highway at this hour of the night. He removed the key for Room 613 from the hook on the wall and asked her to fill up her information on the guest card. He asked if she had any luggage but she shook her head, lifting up the valise she was carrying, to emphasize her point.

She made her way to the elevator, glancing behind every few seconds, as if she was expecting to be followed. I studied her face, the tears were flowing unbidden now in the privacy of the elevator. She was definitely the type. I suddenly felt nervous, accosted by a sense of déjà vu. Exactly a month ago, a similar woman, who had appeared to be a victim of reduced circumstances, had motored in and had been carried out on a gurney the next morning, dead of multiple stab wounds. She had been in Room 513. I watched our new guest’s anxious fingers turn the key and enter her room. I came back downstairs and saw Kevin locking up the cash register for the night. He was headed to the block of rooms next door where he lived. I used to live there with him, until that fateful night twenty years ago.

His Dad had come home drunk again. He was staggering around the kitchen, unsatisfied with the dinner that was waiting for him. He was throwing dishes around, slamming the lids on the pots and was about to overturn the kitchen dinette in his rage. I had had enough. I begged him to stop but he came after me, cursing me for the rotten food, his sorry life, my perpetual tears. He started shoving me toward the kitchen counter, cornering me, when I grabbed the kitchen knife and stabbed him. He died instantaneously. I was appalled at what I had done; I stood there in shock and then slowly turned around to see Kevin. Ten-year old Kevin had been cowering in the doorway. He had seen everything. He ran from the room when he realized I had seen him.

I had a son to raise and I certainly didn’t want to be put away for life. I dragged the body outside and buried him in the backyard. I said my prayers, made my peace with God and decided to move on with my life. Everyone believed he had left home in a drunken rage and only Kevin and I knew the truth.

Kevin didn’t talk to me anymore, his dark eyes shone with angry tears and intense hatred every time he looked at me. He wouldn’t come home for days and when he did, he used to pick up his things and leave to spend time at his friend’s place.

Then one morning I found myself gazing at the lifeless body of a woman lying on my bed. She looked like me but there was a knife wound in her chest, bloodstains on her clothes. The police called it an unsolved mystery.

But he didn’t feel avenged. The Bluebird Motor Inn was only frequented by stray travelers now, who knew nothing of its sordid history. I tried to warn them if they happened to be emotionally distraught women. I had tried to write messages on the misted bathroom mirrors asking them to leave, warning them of dire consequences but I only succeeded in frightening them into scurrying out of their rooms, right into his arms. They never trusted what they were seeing. They imagined themselves delusional in their weakened states. This was always the perfect opportunity for him. He got them to open up, to tell him why they had run away from home, from a brutal and insensitive husband or boyfriend. He wiped the tears that he had come to detest as much as his father before him, and pretended to be their best friend. He offered them hot cocoa, which always included a rather strong sleep-inducer.

The bodies were always buried in the grounds that had first been converted into a cemetery by me, our backyard. Their cars were then driven to abandoned lots or junkyards, never to be found.

I had to put a stop to this and I was stronger now. I wasn’t about to leave our guest’s side this evening.

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