Back before movies were rated anyone tall enough to shove their quarter up on the shelf could by a ticket. So Mama said I could go to the movies and Psycho was playing that Saturday afternoon. It made a lasting impression on me. When they did a remake, wild horses couldn't have dragged me to the theater to listen to that music again.
Fast forward about forty years later. Mr. B and I were traveling and it had been a very long day. We took the next ramp off the highway and the tiny town only had two motels. They were both vintage right out of the fifties but hey, I could sleep in a broom closet and although a few bars of that old movie shot through my head, I was a grown woman, not a little girl.
I rang the bell at the desk and a tall fellow with gray hair, a matching moustache and an accent appeared from behind curtains. I asked for a room and he said, "That will be $27.95 plus tax."
That should have been my first clue to gather my coat tails around my body and flee. But I'm a tight wad and figured I was getting a good bargain for a fraction of the cost of a hotel anywhere else. I pulled the credit card out of my purse.
"We don't take credit cards. Cash or checks only." He said impatiently like he had something going on behind that curtain.
"Don't carry cash and only have a credit card." I was relieved because that office really did look like the one in the movie.
"I'll take a personal check." He smiled.
"I'm from Oklahoma and you don't know me. You'd take a check from someone you don't even know?" I asked.
"Sure." He handed me a paper to fill out with my name. No place for a car license number and he didn't even ask for ID. The hotel we'd stayed in the night before wanted everything down to and including my mother' s maiden name, what year my hair turned gray and my tom cat's name.
The voice in my head was screaming at me to run, run, run but I was so tired. So I gave him the check and he gave me one of those real keys, not a plastic credit card looking thing. As I opened the door in unit one right next to the office, I noticed there was not another car parked anywhere.
The carpet did not have that new, clean smell and I'd never been partial to orange shag but the bed was clean and the TV had HBO so we could watch a movie before we fell asleep. But first I had to call the kids and tell them where we were.
There was a jack for a phone and a clean spot in the dust on the table where one used to set but no phone. So I went back to the office and rang the bell. The curtains opened and when I asked where I could find a pay phone (this was in the pre-cell phone days and every time I pay the bill for my cell phone I remember that motel and do not fuss about the bill) and he told me there wasn't one for five miles. He handed me the office remote phone from his desk and told me to use it and bring it back when I was done.
This fellow had to share DNA with the psycho guy. I knew he was going to tear up my check, kill me in my sleep and steal all the Christmas presents to the in-laws that were stored behind the seat of our pickup truck. He disappeared back into the land behind the curtain and I made the call to one of the kids and figured it was the last time I'd ever hear his voice.
After we watched Switch Back which made Psycho look kind of tame, Mr. B went to sleep and snored all night while I paced the floor waiting to hear the key in the door and the shadow of a knife on the wall. Sometime after midnight I heard the shower running through the wall. I figured if I could hear him over there in his bathroom then he could hear me. So I made a plan. Every thirty minutes I flushed the potty to let him know I wasn't going down without a fight.
My eyes grew heavy so I propped the desk chair against the bathroom door and turned the light on and found the Bible in the nightstand drawer. I got real acquainted with the book of Exodus that night. At five thirty I woke Mr. B and we drove away in a dense fog. When the sun finally came out I drug out the map to see just how big the town was where the motel was located with the killer motel. Never again would we stay there but there was no town, not even one of those pin dots that says that town has less than one hundred people. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. The town did not exist.
Scary music, the kind that raises the hair on your neck, started playing in my head. For the first time in my life I gave thanks for Mr. B's snoring and a potty that flushed every time. The killer probably thought we had a pet bear with a bad case of intestinal flu in the room with us and that's all that saved us for disappearing off the face of the earth forever.