The Wayside Motel
Harlan Sanders moved to Corbin, Kentucky in in 1930 at the age of 40. He had tried many things in his life with few successes. When he got the Shell station on 25W, he was desperate to make it a success.
25W was a main thoroughfare for travelers going from Cincinnati or Lexington south to Knoxville or Atlanta. He quickly realized offering food as well as gas would make him a nice profit. He cooked the fried chicken and other country foods his mother had taught him, serving travelers in his own dining room, the food cooked in his own kitchen.
By 1934, he had purchased the filling station across the highway and expanded to six tables.
Stuart “Stu” Croley became a friend of Harlan’s and watched his success. Stu owned the local Farmer’s Trust bank and loaned Harlan money from time to time. When he learned Harlan was thinking about expanding to over 100 tables, Stu decided those travelers might just need a motel as well.
Stu quickly put up the Wayside Motel, just down 25W from Harlan’s station and restaurant. It was one floor with 16 individual rooms, each with its own bath.
Immediately, it was a hit. Most every night all the rooms were filled. Stu was making good money on his little investment and started thinking he needed to expand. Harlan, however, had other ideas.
Seeing Stu’s success meant to Harlan that he could be making even more money if he had his OWN hotel. He purchased the closed, rundown hotel across the street from his restaurant, renovated it and opened the Sanders’ Cafe and Court in 1937.
Within a year Stu’s business had dropped to just a fraction of what it had been. He tended to only be full on nights when Harlan’s hotel had already filled up. By 1940, he decided to sell.
Since then the Wayside has gone through a number of owners, including a major renovation in the 60s. But it always struggled. When I-75 was built in the 70s, business stopped completely. A developer bought it just for the value of the land in 1980, speculating Corbin would expand in the years to come and his investment would pay off.
In 2010 the developer died and his son, Arnold Harrison, who didn’t have any head for business let alone experience, decided to open the Wayside again. He took his inheritance, fixed the place up, redid the bathrooms, updated everything, then waited for the business to flock in.
As several owners before him had discovered, the Wayside was never going to make a profit. He kept it as a going concern, but it soon became known as the place you could go for quick liaisons. Seeing a chance for a quick buck, Arnold decided to offer a “nap rate” – $25 for clean sheets, towels and a four hour “nap.”
Polly Henderson frequented the Wayside at least three times a week. She was seeing three men, two married, and the Wayside provided her a simple place to see them without tongues wagging in Silerville.
Most of the men she met online. Facebook or the occasional dating site. She didn’t mean to lead them into affairs. She kept telling herself she would stop, just like she would stop smoking. Someday. When she was ready. Right now maybe she would cut down, try to gradually quit.
But, just like her smoking, she’d get the urge and end up at the Wayside – or some other equally remote place. Polly had desire, but no self control. She needed men to want her, need her. It made her feel loved. It made her feel sexy.
Polly had a way with men. Though 35, she still looked 10 years younger. She talked in a way that men seemed to find sexy, suggestive. She started having this effect on men at 13 when she suddenly grew nice hips and large breasts. By high school she had learned to use her power over boys. She didn’t even have to sleep with them.
As she got older, she found she preferred older men, at least for “dating.” They had more money and could buy her nicer things – which they did almost without thinking about it. Most of them were better in bed too. She had tried picking up younger, heavily muscled, men, but they tended to lack technique she enjoyed.
This Wednesday afternoon, Polly pulled her red Mustang to number 12. Johnny was already there, waiting. She saw his Mercedes as she pulled around the back. He always got room 12 or 14, you couldn’t see the cars from the road.
Johnny Tyler was an attorney in Lexington. He never told Polly he was married, but the tan line on his ring finger did. The first couple times she was with a married man she felt a pang of guilt. “If they had a good wife, they wouldn’t want to see me,” Polly rationalized. That was years ago now.
The downpayment for the Mustang had come from him.
Polly knocked on the door and Johnny opened it immediately. Two drinks in hand. He gave one to Polly and then closed the door behind her.
When they emerged two hours later, they weren’t aware of the stranger looking at them through the blinds of 14. Polly kissed Johnny passionately then walked to her car. As she walked the stranger’s eyes followed every sway of her hips.
“Tasty,” he said to the empty room.
This is the beginning of the novel I am writing for NaNoWriMo for those of you following along at home.
Tom Sibley’s Watch
Tom Sibley loved his watch. His father, a physician of no small reputation in the “hills and hollers” surrounding Silerville, Kentucky, had left it to him. After 25 years on his father’s wrist and then almost 15 on Tom’s, the watch body had it share of marks and scratches. Upon close inspection, one could see the crystal also had a tiny fracture, visible as a small line between the Roman “X” and the tick mark representing “XI”—in 1967 the Rolex “Bubble Body” face only had room for the even numbers.
Jim Helton, Tom’s across the road neighbor and local jeweler, had more than once offered to replace the cracked crystal. “Tom,” he would say in his perpetually and inexplicably jubilant tone, “when ya gonna let me fix up that watch fer ya? It’s probably worth near on three or four thousand. You oughta take care of it.”
“One of these days, Jim, one of these days.”
The truth was Tom didn’t want to replace the crystal. That hairline fracture meant almost as much to Tom as the watch itself. The watch received that injury the day “Doc” Sibley took his 12 year old Tom out to the garage to show him how to change the oil in Doc’s new fire-engine red 1972 Chevy Impala convertible.
Huddled beneath the huge crimson hulk which was securely elevated by two bright orange ramps, Tom held the “trouble light” while his father ratcheted free the drain plug.
Being a new car, and this being its first oil change, the plug was putting up solid resistance. Doc lay on his back, his right hand on the wrench and left lying motionless on his chest.
Doc was just instructing his son saying, “No need paying someone to do something you can do…” when the bolt suddenly gave way, causing Doc’s typically nimble hand to lose grip of the wrench, which predictably landed smack dab on the watch crystal.
It was one of the few times Tom heard his father offer a profanity.
Doc quickly slid out from under the vehicle, carefully inspecting his watch for damage. Tom scurried out as well, “Are you OK dad?”
“I think I cracked my watch. Shoulda taken it off before we started. Oh well, what’s done is done. Let’s get back to work.” With that Doc placed the wounded watch on his workbench and crawled back under the car, placing mom’s old roasting pan beneath the drain plug to catch the oil.
That was the first day Doc had ever treated Tom like a man. He explained to Tom everything he was doing, imparting seemingly ancient masculine wisdom. Dipping your finger in the used oil to lubricate the seal on the new filter. Checking the timing using a strobe. Revving the engine by pulling on the little rod next to the carburetor. Checking, “gapping” and replacing a spark plug.
Things men must know.
In Tom’s mind that was the day he became a man. There would be many days where he would learn “man” things, but that day Tom knew his father no longer saw him as an awkward boy, he saw him as a man.
That tiny, barely visible line in that 40 year old Rolex meant everything to Tom. It meant manhood. It meant his father’s love.
At precisely 11:58pm Tom looked down at his watch and pronounced the body dead. A single gaping wound to the torso the obvious cause.
Today I will be starting the rewrite of the final draft of my novel Resurrection. I will be putting it out a chapter at a time, hopefully a chapter a day, for the next few months.
I have taken time to redo the plot, make some character changes and get a better feel for the emotions I want my readers to experience.
If you want to follow along, you can subscribe to the blog or just stop by. I would truly appreciate any comments and encouragement you may want to give.
This book started as a 2016 NaNoWriMo and it’s been an exciting ride so far. Life meant I put it on the shelf for a while, but now I am ready to write again and put it into a form ready for a final draft. Then, hopefully, I will get an agent.
Thanks for playing along at home.
This weekend I got my book back from the printer’s. My idea was to rearrange the 80,000 words of chapters into a different order to add to the suspense and mystery. Probably write another 20,000 words or so and be done with the rough draft.
I took an hour today to paperclip each chapter individually (most are between 500-1,500 words). As I was doing so I was also thinking about how the story could be better for the reader.
That’s when an uncomfortable realization hit me: The best “story” for the reader is not the “progressive” revelation story I have written, but one where the big revelations don’t come for quite some time.
Providing the pieces of the puzzle, but not the picture to see exactly where each piece might go.
To do this I will need to write a completely new story. Sure, I can use the words and some entire chapters I have written, but my protagonist has to change.
That realization was both discouraging and daunting at first. But then I thought “If this makes the story a better experience for the reader, then why wouldn’t I do it?”
Faulkner once said “you have to kill all your darlings.” In this case I need to create a world where the reader is compelled to read “just a little more” and that means taking my carefully crafted words and destroying them in service of the reader.
Now I am actually looking forward to the process.
Now the hard work begins…the whole book, now over 80,000 words, needs to be “rearranged” and then finished. Still I’m pumped about the process.
They fell in love again this past weekend.
The last year for them had been different and difficult. He had pursued the corporate job He had taken to survive. She had endured much more: A stressful, years long project at work. A drifting brother, wife and three dogs who needed respite for nine months. The sudden but not unexpected death of Her father.
There had been for Her some surprising diamonds discovered in the struggle as well: Her brother’s presence was a comfort as the two of them grieved together. The frequent trips back to Her Texas meant seeing Her children more. Planning for Her son’s upcoming wedding brought some joy and anticipation.
Between His job and Her many distractions, They had spent less time together than they had. Their relationship didn’t struggle, but the casual intimacy of weekends that often stretched into weeks was missing. Time alone had been wedged in unnaturally as life intervened.
The last month all that had changed. They had found time for weekends alone Tetrised into the busy of their lives. This weekend was especially private and intimate. They actually found time and mental space for a date. They were able to savor time together rather than rush. They accidentally fell into intimacy when they thought they were doing something else.
They loved each other. They had loved each other now for a long time. But this weekend, They fell in love again.
He took his seat for the daily gathering.
To his right sat a 28th level Paladin, veteran of battles too numerous to count. All of those memories melding into a mass of red in his mind. Today he thought about the joy he had in conquest, longing to not be here but on a basement battlefield.
When he looked to his left he could see Barbara, the effervescent blonde broker. Her phone sounded and she looked at the black-mirrored surface wide-eyed, seeking her next deal. He shot a smile in her direction but she didn’t look up.
Relationship coach Rachel sat across from him. Her mind was distant as she pondered how to help Alice repair her broken marriage. The hurt of infidelity was a rift difficult to mend. She would find a way to bridge the chasm.
To Rachel’s right Todd was taking his seat as well. He was still sweating a bit from the gym, despite the shower. Two-a-days. He opened his Tupperware and quickly plunged his fork into the mass of egg whites and brown rice packed at home, leaning forward as he shoveled to his mouth. The IFBB American was in three weeks, he had to be precise with his macros.
Amy was distant as usual, drawing her imagined world into her ever-present sketch book. She was never actually here at The Gathering, an unnoticed mist most days. But the black and white life the rest of the world saw was a deception, her true self lived in a world of vivid colors, swirling around her as she danced.
At precisely 8am the gate was opened. All of their headsets chirped to life. In unison they responded: “Thank you for calling tech support, how many I help you?”