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.
J.W. was still struggling for breath, his eyes painfully swollen shut, when the CO pulled him to his feet. Tears streamed down his face, both from the spray and from the emotion.
“You shoulda let him have your tray. You got a lot to learn, Fish.” The COs words came out of the sightless darkness. “Still, I gotta give it to ya, you’re scrappy.”
J.W. was pushed along. He heard the sound of a metal door being unlocked. He was pushed inside and stumbled, falling forward. With his hands bound behind his back, his face smashed to the concrete. It hurt more than the one punch Harriman was able to land.
The pain overwhelmed him and he could feel the metallic taste of vomit rise in the back of his mouth. Rolling to his side, he wretched on the floor.
He heard the door clam behind him, the clang of the lock being set and the slot in the door open. “Stand up and back to the door so I can uncuff you.”
J.W. still seared with disorienting pain. He did not move.
“Get up, mother fucker, if I have to come back in there, you’ll regret it.”
J.W. struggled first to his knees and then stood, almost falling again as he backed toward what he thought was the door. His eyes were still unavailable. He backed up to a wall.
“Move to your right, shit head.”
Feeling the wall with his fingers, he moved right until he felt the doorframe and then the slot. He placed his hands through.
“I knew you were trouble, you son’a bitch.” said the faceless CO as he uncuffed him.
As soon as the cuffs were removed, J.W. immediately reached for his eyes. The tears had washed some of the spray away and he was able to breath more easily. He fell to his knees, then to the floor in a fetal huddle. His tears were now more emotion than pepper spray.
“Lord, please God help me.” was the only prayer his mind could form, and he kept repeating it under his breath in the darkness as he sobbed. He spent the next hour in an emotional haze, praying, crying.
After an hour he was spent, he lay there, still motionless on the floor, but quiet. Another hour passed in silence. He eyes stung less and the swelling had subsided. He could see some light under the door, but the room was dark. His head hurt. His hands ached.
The fragment of light at least allowed him to see the toilet and sink. He pulled himself up and moved there. He turned on the cold water and realized just how painful and swollen his hands were. He winced as he turned on the water.
He cleaned off the pepper spray by splashing cold water into his face. The coolness allowed his eyes to finally stop burning. Through the tiny light, he could see the bunk. He moved over to it and sat.
He began to think about all that had transpired over the last several days. Tom. Tom was dead? How could Tom be dead. What will happen to Rachel and the girls. How was this possible?
How could they think he would kill anyone? Is Suze OK? How is Claire?
He wondered what Suze had been told, if she were safe. He wondered what the congregation thought. He bowed his head.
Lord, I know you have a plan for me, but I am completely out of hope. Please Lord, help me see your hand. Give me hope. Show me something to help me get through this. Help Suze. Help Mom and Dad. Protect them all. Please, God, protect me.
Lord, I’m scared. I don’t understand. You promised you would always be with us, protect us. You know I have been wholehearted in my ministry. I would do anything you ask, no matter the personal cost. Please God, give me hope. Somehow let me know you’re in control. Somehow give me some hope.
The pain, the grief, the fear left J.W. without courage. It tested his faith in ways nothing ever had before.
My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Why so far from saving me?
The opening words of Psalm 22 were heartfelt today as he spoke them. They were words Jesus also spoke from the cross. A plea for understanding, for help, for hope.
Praying the words, however, reminded J.W. the Psalm doesn’t end there. It goes on. He had memorized it years before and it came back to him now:
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
J.W. found this comforting. If Jesus felt this way yet God was still in control, still had a plan, then God still had a plan for him as well. It gave him a tinge of hope as he prayed.
Lord, thank you for bringing this to mind. You are enthroned as the Holy One and I put my trust in you. You have not denied me nor my loved ones. When Moses, David, Paul put their trust in you, they were never put to shame.
I can rely on you. Thank you Lord for being with me.
The prayer brought him comfort, despite the pain and grief.
J.W. spread himself on the bed and collapsed into an exhausted sleep.