Adobe Motel

Her bosom draped discreetly in a cream-colored blazer, Brandy scampered from her car to the motel office, purse in hand.

Simon waited, peering past the inefficient wipers at a complex of individual adobe units stained blood-red by the unrelenting rain, snagged, in effect, amidst a verdant concentration of lethal-looking cactus spines.

"So, you’ll be wanting it for the week, Miss?"

"Uh huh. Travelers’ cheques okay?"

"Fine, fine. You’ll be in the residential section—still a few snowbirds left, so, if you wouldn’t mind, please try to be quiet after ten o’clock; no late-night swimming; a few other rules. Just courtesy, you know. Come and go as you please. I think you’ll find this a very peaceful place. Here’s your key. And another for your husband."


"By the way, mornings there’s always a fresh pot of coffee here in the office; just come in and help yourselves."

"Thanks again."

Brandy gathered her receipt and change, stepped across to the threshold, then hurried back to her designated 'spouse.'


She and Simon then drove around back to Number 8. They parked and commenced unloading the Volkswagen, Brandy rushing about playfully, dodging the rain drops, skirting puddles as if keeping dry were still an option.

Inside it was dark. The windows were small and few. Even after the garden-side curtains were parted a dusky ambiance matched the overcast out-of-doors. The earthen walls felt thick, palpably moist, as they muffled sounds of the storm, soaking up the roar of its ongoing torrent. The air itself felt irriguous and subtly fecund, like that of an underground grotto.

"I guess it could stand some airing out, huh?"

Brandy entered the bedroom and switched on a swamp-cooler lodged in the solitary window—beside the solitary bed—then walked back out.

"Whoops. I forgot to ask about the sleeping accommodations. Do you mind sharing?"

His shrug was noncommittal. Was he pleased or apprehensive?

Brandy turned on the living room lamp, then commenced to explore. Though old and small, each room had seen some recent renovation. Furnishings, albeit humble, were tastefully arranged. Nothing matched; everything belonged. Little touches here and there contributed to an overall 'local' charm. On the mantle was an arrangement of straw flowers, reflected by a mirror set in a rustic, hand-carved frame. There were throw rugs on the floor of Hopi design, the floor itself made of handsome, if time-worn, terracotta tile. Cloaked with a square of Mexican-beaded taffeta, an inconspicuous television stood in one corner. Each door between rooms was painted a primary color: the bedroom’s was blue; the bathroom’s was yellow; the kitchen’s was red, lending the place a cheerful kindergarten quality. Layer upon layer of plastering had distorted the whitewashed walls, shrinking their cozy dimensions with blunted angles, a rounded, womb-like quality engulfing the road-weary occupants. Except for some dust and lingering mustiness, the premises were fastidiously neat and clean.

"I think we lucked out: no bugs; the toilet flushes; everything seems to work. Did you see those kitchen cupboards? They all have little windows so you can peek inside at the dishes. Oh, and look at our view! You can't see any of the other compartments from here; just trees and cactus. It's like we're here all by ourselves, like we're back in the desert. Except there’s a bath! Boy, oh, boy, am I going to love what’s next—soaking, tip to toe, in a tub of scalding-hot water! Mind if I go first?"

Simon’s chivalrous bow conveyed 'be my guest.'

"I won’t be long. There’s a dresser in the bedroom. Why not go and put away your things?"

Brandy grabbed her overnight bag and disappeared into the bathroom. Simon, backpack in hand, repaired to the lone double bed.

Did he mind if they shared it? The prospect both intrigued and made him cringe, drawn as he was to Brandy yet determined to stay uninvolved. Women, beautiful or otherwise, in Simon's opinion, were distractions, steering the soul from pleasures profound to pleasures profane. Little could he afford to be sidetracked now…

… by Brandy, bending over the bath water to test its sultry temperature, re-adjusting taps before returning to launder her underclothes afloat in the sink…

… a woman’s eyes already having cast back his reflection, warping it grotesquely as by a carnival-side-show mirror, rendering him distorted, justly culpable, yet scarcely recognizable…

… wringing out each garment, then hanging brassiere and panties over the shower curtain before loosening her sodden hair…

… save to himself…

… wiping a runny porthole in the fogged-up medicine-chest glass, wetting a washcloth, scrubbing away rain-streaked remnants of her morning make-up�

… faults and psychic deformities all-too apparent…

… unpacking toiletries, setting shampoo, cr�me rinse, Johnson’s baby oil, and a plastic disposable razor on the bathtub’s beveled edge, replacing the complimentary soap with a lilac-scented bar of her own, then turning off the taps…

… flaws in his character evident even now as Simon sidled toward the bathroom’s yellow door, a sliver of light escaping from underneath, the sounds of lazily lapping water drawing him closer to the presence within.

‘Jeezus, it’s so scalding it feels almost cold! Unless I move. Don’t budge! Every little shift makes waves burn like fire.’

The bath water scorched a deepening blush into Brandy’s milk-white skin, her bobbing breasts like a pair of parboiled life buoys, her hair afloat in a burnt sienna island of outward-reaching tendrils.

Simon, ashamed of carnal impulses, beat a hasty retreat into the living room. From his still-unbundled backpack he took out pen and paper.



Dear Brandy,

You have been kind to me. But I must go. Not because I don’t want to be with you; I do


He paused…

… as Brandy reached, with a languid arm, for her lilac-scented soap, and worked it into a lather along one elevated ankle, calf and thigh, then, utilizing her razor, cleared a stubble-free path…


if only for a while. Except, alone, I feel I’m close to a whole new dimension…


… exchanging left for right, she proceeded to soap and shave her other leg…


something I’ve been pursuing for a long, long time…


… smooth, leisurely strokes exposing swells and elegant tapering…


something I have to catch, like the wind, to have and to hold…


… finished… shifting… sitting up… she lathered either underarm, and recommenced shaving.


to experience life on multiple planes…


On her knees, now, Brandy soaped her pubes, guiding the razor adroitly.


foolish though pursuits like mine may seem…


Smooth as a nectarine, her lap submerged as she slumped back into the water’s warm embrace…


Nonetheless, I must say fare-thee-well.


… while Simon, backpack re-shouldered, propped his note atop the bedroom’s dresser…

"Hey, don’t you run out on me now."

… and summarily froze; the unexpected call served to counter his ascetic resolution.

After one last underwater sprawl, Brandy surfaced to shampoo her auburn hair…

… as Simon shed again his burden, crossed to the bed, and sat down resignedly, eyes closed, taking up a posture conducive to meditation.

My eyes open. Brandy sits across from me... bathed in a misty, silvery sort of light... her lips bizarrely daubed with yellow-ochre pigment... her mouth defining shapes that approximate my name... 'Simon'... closing in as she whispers... "Simon"... gap between us shrunk now bridged by a kiss that feels adhesive... clinging to, now sucking almost greedily, stealing my breath away... air-tight in its seal—from which I fight to break!

Having turned on the shower for a post-bath rinse, Brandy initially flinched as the nozzle's spritz ran cold... then warm... then once again fiery. Soapsuds slithered down the rosy back and front of her freshly-tonsured body.

"Simon? You still out there?"

Stepping out of the tub, she cracked open the bathroom door. An illumining haze poured out and into the dusky bedroom, half of Simon’s face lit by in its glow.

"Oh, you’re in here. I was worried you might have left or something. Just sit tight one more minute; I’m almost through."

Reassured, she ducked back into the steam...

... as Simon, wrenched from his vision, blinked at its evanescent ghost...

... dried her hair, wrapped it turban-fashion in a towel, then squirted trails of baby oil over the length and breadth her squeaky-clean anatomy.

... his slow, deliberate blinks—inducing nothing extraordinary—bade him keep eyes closed. Refocusing on inner lids, Simon discerned ambiguous patterns... but nothing close to resembling the full-fledged apparition he half-hoped might reappear. Legs crossed, palms turned upward, spine erect, he breathed from his diaphragm gently… in then out… listening to the throb of his accelerated heartbeat… watching… waiting… imagining… until, once more, he heard his name intoned.


Brandy, as 'envisioned,' again sat across from him, wrapped in a terry cloth towel that mooned her ample breasts, her hair a limp, luxurious mass of liberated curls, her puckered lips restored to their natural pale-pick color.

"I’m finished."

Simon opened his eyes.

"The bathroom’s all yours."

Brandy sat�for real�where his mind's-eye had projected her.

"If you want to use my stuff, feel free. I’ve left a whole assortment over the sink."

Rising like a sleepwalker, Simon retrieved his backpack, then entered the steam-filled bathroom still captive to his dream—only to find a nightmare of female accessories: tweezers, hairpins, nail clippers, body oils, mouthwash, toothpaste, talcum powder, deodorant, combs and brushes and curlers and untold species of cosmetics, an incredible array, or disarray, strewn as by some crack-brained apothecary… none of it the least bit necessary, in his moonstruck opinion; Brandy’s natural beauty needed no enhancement… finding it odd, then nostalgic, to be ensconced in such flagrant femininity… memories from his childhood wafting back to mind… of sneaking into his mother’s vanity to explore her balms and unguents… her aromatic bottles and titillating vials… until, recalled to senses heightened by the ultra-humid atmosphere, Simon filled his lungs... then shed his clothes...

... while Brandy, out in the bedroom, found his propped-up note.

‘So, he really was about to hightail it out of here. Why? Honestly, men are so infuriating, this one especially. It’s almost like he’s afraid of getting close. I’m starting to feel a bit sorry for Mister Hitchhiker. Not because he’s mute, but because he's so alone.’

Brandy set aside his mislaid memorandum. She could scarcely read it anyway; the room had grown quite dark. Weary from the drive, she reclined upon the bed, deciding to ‘rest her eyes,’ if only for a moment. Sighing heavily, she stretched then curled up into a ball… the towel around her, with wakefulness, lost its grip.

In the tub, down on hand and knee, Simon scrub-a-dub-dubbed his grungy shirt and trousers. He owned only two changes of clothing, and availed himself of every opportunity to keep them clean. Finished, he hung them alongside Brandy’s, then proceeded to scrub himself with the lavender soap. Hot showers were an infrequent luxury in his homeless existence, and though he tried to bathe daily, often it was a piece-meal affair in some service-station rest room. This standing completely nude under a steady stream of water was a real treat. And shampoo! Rich, lavishly lathering, genuine shampoo! As he rubbed his scalp into a cumulus cloud of lather, Simon hardly could restrain himself from singing right out loud. How very long it had been since last he heard his voice. Would he even recognize it? He used to laugh, he recalled, as well as to sing. How had life become so spiritlessly somber?

Upon stepping out into the bathroom’s clammy confines, Simon once more inhaled Brandy's heady redolence... while in a dwindling pool of water left in the tub a pair of tattered wing fragments circled… circled faster… chased one another lickety-split… then disappeared down the drain.



Arched above Brandy’s...

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