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Night's Inn
An Overton Railroad Logistics Stage: 8/19/21
The last time I stayed in Oakland, California, the train up to Emerryville took only ten minutes. It came at 7:30 A.M.. As the California Zephyr leaves at 9:10 A.M., I decided that the next time I headed east from California that I'd spend the night in Emeryville. [I suspect there is a double consonant in the spelling but I don't know if it is the m, the r, or the l.]
Well, there was a problem—no mid-range hotels. Down in Oakland one can stay at The Waterfront Hotel for a reasonable rate. It had cost $75 I think in March, and would probably be $120 now. In Emmeryville, the hulking monstrosities of towering glass that overlooked the bay on the one side and the Amtrak station on the other, cost $250 to $350 a night.
That left the alternative. Three cheap hotels, basically large single-story houses on stilts, under which the guests might park, decorated MacArthur Boulevard just under a mile-and a half from the train station.
The hobo hoodrat was all set for a bed-bug check, recalling the motel hazard endemic to Baltimore. His drinking companion, a certain Crisis Age Yogi, insisted on driving him out of Oakland up to the first of the Three Emerryville motels under consideration, “Just in case it's as bad as I think it's going to be.”
We drive past the German-Asian sports bar and the corner store, and then pull up outside and see the Black Lives Matter signs in the motel windows, “Nice, check it out. It might be you—but I'd rather sleep on the median.”
The rental office is an armored cage, with a paper vacancy sign hung on it. The young Latino fellow behind the plexi-glass spoke through the hole in it, “You can take your mask off—I'm behind the glass. If I was out there it would be different. I don't come out there.”
...
“Do you want smoking or non-smoking?”
“It will be easier to find non-smoking. Our people come here, they like to smoke.”
“Nice! That is easy. $85 dollars. Do you have a $5 so I can give you back a $20? It's easier that way.”
“Thank you, Mister LaFond. Please sign the paper. If you want' towels, come down in an hour and they will be ready. Coffee I make for $1.49, Cup of Noodles a Dollar, Chef Boy-ar-dee, two dollars, with a spoon.”
“Wake up call?”
[Smiles endearingly] “Oh, no, we don't do that. There is no phone in the room. Basic, bed, TV, bathroom.”
The railing across the narrow walk from the flimsy door pleases me, as I could surely shove an intruder over it to the welcoming pavement below.
I propped the T-Cane against the door in case cops decide to kick it in—an old Harm City reflex, in the case of mistaken identity. I was once rolling in the motel hay with Sweet City when the room next door suffered a police invasion, and as stupid as PIGs are, one door is not a far fall from tactical grace.
There is a single window next to the door with curtain drawn, to this 8 foot wide and 12 foot deep room. Across from the bed, which occupies most of the width is a large wood-framed mirror, which I suppose gives customers a pleasing view of their prostitute. All I saw when I sat up out of bed was an old bald runt. A small trash can is thoughtfully placed at the foot of the bed so that neither party will have to sleep by the discarded condoms.
The door to the bathroom, an old tiled affair, with sink, toilet and shower stall, is almost half blocked by the TV mounted on the wall next to the door frame, set up for viewing from bed—I suppose in case the view in the mirror is not as nice as one would like.
The bathroom was clean, the floor tacky. The shower drips constantly, which I like, as it sounded more like a creaking leak than a patting drop. Someone actually cleans the toilet between visits, which is really nice. There are two tiny bars of soap next to the sink and two in the shower, as if the housekeeping staff is convinced that two people will be here and that one of them will want her own bar of soap.
The main room had a suspiciously dark carpet. I soon put my socks back on, when I felt the grit on my bare feet.
There were no bed bugs—and also no sheets, just a blue blanket with cigarette holes in it and an old flowered bed spread, on top of a mattress covered by an old flannel sheet.
There is this little round table 18-inches across with the spilled wine stuck to its metal base, the surface un-wiped, tacky and supporting 4 plastic cups in plastic wrap. I cleaned the table and spread a bandanna to cover the top before setting up this laptop. As I sat to write my hands got sticky from the worn arm of the simple wooden chair. Disinfectant wipes took care of that, then I noticed the white door next to my right shoulder. I had noted it before, a small closet, and ignored it upon entering.
I thought, based on the size of the bathroom, there should be more than a closet here, maybe its a dungeon, or an alternative exit?
I opened this door just to make sure no Asian girl was bound and gagged in there and was astonished to find it to be just as large as the bathroom, and just a closet, an empty, L-shaped closet that would have served for a sleeping berth for two British Navy officers some 200 years ago.
I wrote a 2,088 word chapter in Last Whiteman, chapter 8, concerning post-ebonalyptic hostel lodging, then listened to Hesoid's Theogeny on a loop and fell off to sleep, awakening just in time, it seemed, in each reading, to hear about Odysseus fathering some four children on two goddesses...
There is no curtain on the frosted bathroom window, so it never really gets dark in this room, in this humming place with such a lax attitude towards the fall of night.
This is really a nice area. As night fell, rather than gunshots, police and ambulance sirens, circling helicopters and ghetto bitches screaming, the sound was the steady hum of the aged HVAC system, punctuated by the muscle cars coming and going from the motel, the voices predominantly accented in Mexican.
I look at my hand written map made out by a darling hand and I see that I will be walking west on MacArthur, turning north on Market, turning west on 40th, and making a right on Horton, which will take me to the train station.
Thank you.
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