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The hooker sits in the lobby of the Motel Astor.
She has no idea what year it is, but only that she was murdered in room 115 during the mid-eighties. Because that’s the thing about being dead: the time frame of the mortal world becomes non-existent after death. Without the meaning of life the sand in the hourglass becomes wet mud.
The sex worker sparks a cigarette and inhales deeply. Upon exhaling, the angel in the lobby looks over to the man behind the desk and asks, “How long?”
Keeping his eyes on the television monitor playing the same repeat of the All In The Family episode where Edith is sexually assaulted, the lobbyist replies, “What do you mean?”
She takes another drag of her smoke and adds, “How long do I have to stay in his piss-poor excuse of the Bates Motel?”
The employee's eyes glance at her and he says, “When I was murdered in 1979, I remember I was sitting here watching poor Edith finally escape the sex offender’s perverted grasp after smashing a hot cake in his face. This couple came into the lobby and asked me if I worshipped Satan. Upon telling them that Satan doesn’t exist, the man made me get on my knees as his wife instructed I perform oral sex on the barrel of a pistol.” He stops for a moment and adds, “He pulled the trigger and, before I know it, I’m stuck in this goddamn place watching Archie Bunker crack jokes about a punch bowl on an endless loop… over and over and over again.” The Motel Astor employee concludes with, “To answer your question, you’ll be able to leave when I’m able to tune into another television show.”
Dismay settles on the hooker’s face and, after a momentary pause of failing to assess her purpose, she asks the worker if he even knows her name. After shaking his head, the prostitute says, “Figures. I feel as though I’m some side character in a horror tale that nobody cares about.” She takes a long drag of the cigarette and confesses, “My name is Susan Davenport, but to the world I’m just a sample of a soul made to swallow cum for fifty bucks. However, I’m so much more than that.”
“Oh?” The lobbyist asks, without any indication that he really gives a fuck.
“Yeah,” Susan tells him. “I remember at one point I made my mother and father proud. I got all A’s and was in the top of my graduating class.” She laughs slowly. “And then one day I'm working on the side of highway 70 at truck stops. It’s like the entire world becomes a nightmare that smells of sex and, believe me, I lived every single day thinking it would get better. I use to think that I would die in a hospital bed as a happy, old woman.” Miss Davenport takes one final puff and concludes by saying, “Instead, my throat was slashed at twenty-eight in a motel room.”
“Well, at least you weren’t forced to eat shit and broken glass like the teenage girl in 111,” the worker replies, trying to sound optimistic beneath a cloud of misery.
“Yeah,” she replies. “I’d rather be picked apart and eaten than made to consume poop until I died.”
It is then the All of the Family episode suddenly restarts, and the classic opening of the piano and the happy TV couple singing about better days can be heard. A black tear from mascara forms in the corner of Susan’s eyes and she asks, “So, tell me, what is the back story of this motel? You know, the reason why it seems to devour people and spit them out?”
“Do you really wanna know?” The lobbyist asks.
Susan lights another cigarette and says, “Don’t tell me it was run by a man with mommy issues.” She exhales smoke and adds, “If I am to be trapped here for all of eternity, at least let the reason be a good one. Not some remake or serial killer cliché.”
The worker is silent for a moment and begins to reveal the history of motel.
“Back in 1898, before the Motel Astor existed and there was a highway 70 that led victims to its despair, this property was a cornfield with a dirt road that cut through it,” he tells the hooker. “And just a couple miles away from this prosperous field was the town of Benson. By day the township floated on the surface of this façade where Southern Baptism and good ol’ country values blossomed like Magnolia flowers. However, when the sun went down, teachers, firefighters, and other respected members of the community would join together in a dark society called The Fellowship of Caligula.”
Susan is quiet and asks, “Do you mean a cult?”
“Well, they called it a religious group,” the employee replies. “But yes, a cult – a cult devoted to the late member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. They believed Caligula was not only a man of many gods, but the Christian god as well.” He asks the ghostly prostitute for a cigarette and continues the sordid tale. “Obviously they were nut jobs, but nobody in that time period ever questioned the possibility that an evil cult resided in the underbelly of the Bible belt. One night, their leader purposed that they sacrifice the town simpleton, Joshua Brannon, a mentally handicapped man who not only had the mind of a child, but was still a virgin.”
He puffs the cancer stick and says, “They stripped the man naked and paraded him to the cornfield where they, too, stood nude in the pale moonlight. With nothing but black hoods over their heads, they nailed Joshua to wooden cross and chanted, God to son, son to the people, the people to love, love to hate, hate to nails, nails to the crucifix, the crucifix to blood, blood to the devil, to the devil, to the devil."
The employee is silent for a second when notices the look horror on Susan’s face and he adds, “Little did the cult know that Joshua Brannon possessed the power of mind control, and his gift never came to light until he hung from the crucifix in a mixture of agony, humiliation, and absolute fear. In the middle of their morbid ritual, he made the members of dark society rip one another apart with their bare hands. Under his control, they tore off their arms, jaws, and genitals. Hell, Joshua even made them disembowel the leader and eat her intestines.”
The prostitute’s eyes grow big like a scared little girl.
“Their blood soaked into the soil,” the lobbyist tells her. “And it left a stain that no rain can wash away. And as for Joshua, his blood, too, absorbed into the very dirt in which this motel stands.” He puts out the cigarette in a coffee cup and asks, “Is that a good enough reason for why the Motel Astor is so horrible?”
Susan swallows a tight lump and nods her head slowly.
“Alright, well, now that you know the marvelous history of the Holiday Inn,” the lobbyist replies, sarcastically. “I now have to go and feed Mr. McCormick in room 119.”
“Lemme do it,” the prostitute says.
After a short pause of unenthusiastic surprise, the employee asks, “And why do you want to do such a nasty task? You don’t work here.”
Susan looks at him and replies in a rather defeated tone, “If I can’t figure out my purpose, I might as well make one.”
The man behind the desk smiles and says, “Well, the hiring manager isn’t able to confirm whether or not you can work here, because he is hanging from a slipknot in his office. However, we are accepting applications.”
The hooker then replies, “Fuck you, I’ll volunteer.”
He reaches in a drawer, pulls out the key for room 119 and tells her, “The dog food is in the dresser along with the funnel.”
She takes the key, heads out of the lobby, and proceeds to Mr. McCormick’s room. As she walks down the sidewalk, Susan passes a crying little girl who stands at the Coke machine. The child is wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt and, with a fragile whimper, asks, “Have you seen my mommy?”
Susan smiles, but the depression in her voice replies, “Oh, doll face, your mommy went crazy after you drowned in the swimming pool.”
The little girl is quiet for about three seconds and asks, “Is she ever going to come back?”
The dead hooker shakes her head and says, “No, Janey. We’ve been over this before. Don’tchu you remember? She blew her brains out a year later in Georgia.”
Susan walks away from the girl and passes numerous doors before she arrives to 119. The prostitute uses the key to unlock the door, and upon entering she is greeted by the smell of feces. She turns on the light where a man who has been tied to a bed is revealed. He has been strapped to the mattress for almost a year and he is eaten up with bed sores, infections and his muscles have deteriorated.
“Hello, Mr. McCormick,” Susan says, walking over to the dresser. She pulls out a funnel and a can of Alpo and adds, “I’m the new housekeeping.” The man moans something in agonizing bliss, and she replies, “I’m sorry for what this motel has done this to you.”
Mr. McCormick says nothing.
In the pits of her hopelessness and endless days that drag on and on, Susan realizes that her purpose. Before she died, her father always told her, When in Hell, do as the Hellions do. And with that said, the hooker shoves the funnel in the helpless man’s mouth and says, “It’s time to eat.”