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.
This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
The Byrd Rule
The Byrd Rule is a senate rule allowing senators to block bills that would significantly increase the US budget deficit for a period longer than 10 years. In practice this means any legislation the GAO projects will have a negative impact on the deficit for longer than 10 years is going to get blocked by the senate.
George Bush was elected President in 2000 based, at least in part, on his promise to ease the tax burden on middle-class Americans. In 2001 he signed the first of two bills aimed to deliver on that promise and colloquially known as the “Bush Tax Cuts.” Due to the Byrd rule, these tax cuts expired in early 2010.
In response to public demand, Barack Obama reinstituted the cuts, with minor changes, at the end of 2010 with his “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act,” extending them for an additional two years, then made a compromise bill permanent in 2012 with the “American Taxpayer Relief Act.”
Buried in the 1,500 legalise of the Bush cuts were changes to the inheritance tax provisions. These changes expired at the beginning of 2010 and were modified and reinstated again starting January 1, 2011 under Obama.
That left 2010 a particularly unique year where the inheritance tax no longer existed.
Jon Langston was a practical man. While inwardly grieving and unsure of himself contemplating his father’s rapidly approaching death, he still was conscious of the financial consequences. He met with his estate planner, Jeff Albertson, who was graduate of Harvard Law as well as a CPA, to find out how the estate would move forward after Dick’s death.
“Well, while none of us want to see Mr. Langston pass, if any person of means could choose the year of their death, this would be it” the Albertson said.
It was October 15 and Langston was pretty sure his father could not live out the year. He wasn’t sure he could live out the month. But Dick Langston was not to be underestimated. Jon had seen others do that many times before. He had a tenacity allowing him to often beat the odds. Jon mentally noted he might have to call Mr. Black into duty come December, if it came to it.
During their meeting, Langston felt the vibration of the second phone in his pocket. He didn’t bother to check who was calling.
“I need to take this,” he said to Albertson. “Give me the room.”
It was a command, not a request and Albertson felt a bristle of anger shoot through him. He showed no visible emotion as he rose from his desk and exited his office.
“Mr. Black,” Langston answered, trying to sound calm and authoritative. He was anxious. Tab Carter scared him, possibly more than the predicament he currently found himself in with the preacher.
“You need to get Reeves out on bail. Arraignment is this afternoon, Roy White is his attorney.”
Langston started, “Now just a minute….” but Black had already disconnected.
Langston gave himself a second to catch his breath and get his emotions under control. He returned his burner to his pocket, noticing the slight tremble in his hand. He exited the office and through the lobby, not sharing a glance or a word as he passed Albertson.
He climbed in his black Mercedes and pulled out his “legal” phone, telling Siri to call Jack Thorton’s private number.
“Mr. Langston, what can I do for you today?” Thornton had a measured, pleasant tone.
“Tell me how I can get Reeves out on bail today without anyone knowing it’s me.”
“Certainly, Jon. I already looked at the docket. He should be arraigned this afternoon on the charge of murdering a deputy. The bail could be up to $2 million, maybe more.”
“Shit.” That was a lot of money. Langston felt his was already spending far too much on this debacle and this was many times what he was willing to part with. He also didn’t have $2 million laying around he could just access unnoticed.
“Of course,” added Thornton, “if Reeves never made it to trial, any money you put up for bail would be returned to you by the court.”
Langston was processing how he could access that kind of money. He had about $250,000.00 in his secret “rainy day” fund, syphoned off slowly over the years. He was pretty sure Dick didn’t even know about it.
“I’m not sure I can come up with $2 million on short notice without drawing unwanted attention. Attention neither of us wants,” replied Langston.
“Well, he will probably be given cash or bond. You can do a $2 million bond for $200,000.00, but even if there is no trial, the bondsman will keep it for his fee. You’ll never see it again, no matter what.”
Well, fuck, thought Langston.
“Let me make some calls and see what I can put together quietly. I’ll call you back. His attorney is Roy White. Is he someone we can work with?”
“I don’t know him, but I checked up on him already. He’s a small town criminal attorney. Pleads out almost all of his cases. He hasn’t been in front of a jury this year. One thing about criminal attorneys, they are all a little bit criminal themselves. I’m sure we can get him to work with us.”
“What about the Judge? Can we get to him?”
“Judge White is up for reelection and this case is making state headlines, maybe national. We’ll have limited influence unless we give him something big.”
“OK, well Jack, play through the angles. I’ll call you back soon once I figure out how to put together some money.”
“Jon, we’ve got this. It’s all just details,” replied Thornton.
“We better” replied Langston, disconnecting.
Jon started the Mercedes and began the drive back to Langston Farms. He drove without thought through the beautiful hills and painted fall trees. His mind was processing how to put together the money he needed. When he arrived, he didn’t respond to Mary’s greeting and retreated to his office, closing the door behind him.
This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
5 Trays, 5 Days
Sunday night lights out were at 10pm. For J.W. it couldn’t come soon enough. It took all of his emotional strength just to keep from becoming a wailing, crying mess. He spread out his matt on the floor, pulled his single blanket over his orange jumpsuit and closed his eyes. Tater could hear him sobbing in the darkness. They all did the first night.
At night, jail is loud. Even without his anxiety and despair, J.W. wouldn’t have been able to sleep. Tonight the White County Jail housed 23 inmates, J.W. was sure all 23 either snored. Or talked and laughed. Most of them played cards or chess all night.
By 4am the talking had stopped and, though the snoring continued, J.W. finally collapsed into a dreamless sleep. The lights came on one hour later, with the sound of an air horn.
J.W. stirred, but wasn’t quick to sit up. He was exhausted and his body hurt from sleeping on the concrete, his matt not withstanding. Tater and the others in his cell sat up on their cots. A corrections officer came by and unlocked the cell.
“Better get your ass up, ‘Preacher’, head count and breakfast in 10 minutes. You miss it, you don’t eat.” His voice was snide.
J.W. willed himself to sit up. He was just again realizing this wasn’t all a dream, he was in jail.
“Come on,” encouraged Tater, pulling on his jumpsuit. “We gots to line up.” Tater appeared to be the only one of the four who even noticed J.W.
J.W. craned himself up from the floor, almost trampled by the other four in the attempt. A line formed at the heavy metal door. He hadn’t noticed last night the wide, three inch tall slot at the bottom where trays of food were pushed through as each inmate bent to retrieve in turn. J.W. was fifth to last in line.
As each tray was dispensed the inmate would then go to one of the metal picnic tables in the common room to eat. There were three, each able to accommodate six.
J.W. still in shock, shuffled forward, head down, as the line moved.
When his turn came, he bent and retrieved his tray, then looked for a table with an empty space to sit. The tables were full and J.W. was a bit relieved. He didn’t want to deal with anyone anyway. He picked a spot against the wall, and sat, “indian-style”, feeling the cold concrete block against his back. He balanced the tray on his lap.
The meal was simple. There were two pieces of bread, glued together with a thin layer of peanut butter and jelly, warm oatmeal and a child-sized carton of milk. It also boasted a tiny plastic spoon.
As J.W. looked at the tray, his shock left him motionless. The confusion of fear and disbelief caused his mind to race while it struggled to even complete the simple task of reaching for the sandwich, opening his milk or even lifting the spoon for his oats. He just stared at the heavy plastic tray.
People often talk about “fight or flight,” but there is another response to being in a position where true, deadly fear grips men’s minds: Freeze. J.W. was frozen in the catatonic grip of his fear.
As he sat there motionless, expressionless, one of the larger inmates, approached. J.W. didn’t notice him until he spoke.
“Five days, five trays, Fish.” Dakota Harriman was a full six-feet three inches tall and his steroid enhanced physique weighed in over 250 pounds. Though J.W. was a full six feet himself, huddled on the floor Dakota loomed over him.
“What?” muttered J.W., looking up at the hulking figure.
“Five trays, five days. You give me five of your trays over the next five days. Damn, Fish, you retarded or somethin’?” Harriman’s frame required far more calories than the jail provided. He “supplemented” his meals by intimidating other inmates.
The threat caused J.W. to break through the haze of his mind. Holding the tray, he stood slowly to his feet.
To Harriman, J.W. didn’t appear too threatening. He had a slim build and Harriman sized him up as someone who didn’t pose a threat. As J.W. stood, Harriman crossed his arms in front of his massive chest. He expected J.W. to simply hand him the tray. They all did.
J.W. said nothing, and held the tray in front of himself with both hands. He looked at Harriman.
Harriman, unfolded his right arm and reached out to take hold of the tray.
J.W. felt a surge of rage and adrenaline. Before Harriman touched the tray, J.W. snatched it back and swung it at the big man’s face, the edge hitting him on the bridge of his nose, breaking both.
The big man stumbled back, dazed by the impact. Before he could react, J.W. tackled him and they both fell to the concrete floor, J.W. landing on top of Harriman.
J.W.’s rage-fueled attack was not strategic, it was embodied anger. He straddled Harriman’s abdomen and kept hitting him in the face, while Harriman alternately struggled to cover his face with one hand while trying to push J.W. off him.
The original strike had opened a significant gash across his nose, and now his eyes were a mess of blood and oats.
The other inmates, always hoping for the entertainment of a fight, rushed over. The COs were less speedy. They also enjoyed watching the fights, at least as long as there wasn’t serious injury. If an inmate had to be transported to the hospital, that meant more paperwork. They did everything they could to avoid paperwork.
Within a minute, which in a fight seems a long time, the guards sounded a siren, and three COs rushed into the common area to break up the fight. The inmates all dropped to the floor, lying face down, fingers threaded behind their heads.
J.W. was still swinging wildly, but Harriman had managed to sit up, parrying the blows and pushing J.W. off him. Harriman returned one punch, an overhand right, that knocked the kneeling J.W. to the floor. It was fortunate for J.W. Harriman was still seated when he swung and not able to hit him properly – Harriman could easily punch a man unconscious.
Harriman climbed on top of J.W. now, “I’m gonna kill you you fuckin’ son of a bitch. You’re a dead man.” He pulled back his massive right fist to deliver another blow.
That’s when both men were hit with the pepper spray from the guards. Harriman had experienced this before. The guards feared him. His size and strength were intimidating, and the COs didn’t carry guns. The plan with Harriman was always to spray him first, then subdue him.
Harriman reached up to rub his burning eyes, compounding his pain. He struggled for breath. While he was disoriented, two of the officers threw him to the concrete and cuffed his massive arms behind his back.
A third officer sprayed J.W. directly in the face before roughly rolling him over on his face, straddling his back as he cuffed him. J.W.’s eyes seared with pain while his lungs struggled to take breaths.
“Guess the new fish was tougher than Biggun thought,” chuckled one of the guards.