My daddy was no Elvis, but he sure liked singing along to the King’s music as he wandered from town to town, hitching rides on boxcars, destination Bangor, Maine. Sometimes he’d do a couple hours labor and make enough to buy a cheap motel room, no phone, no pool, no pets, but he had enough for a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of cheap whiskey.
That’s how he met my mom. She worked in the liquor store across the street from that motel in Bangor, and it was the end of her shift. They chatted for a while outside and ended up back in his room.
“You do this a lot?” he asked.
“Only a time or two,” she said.
They had their rendezvous, and he hopped a train the next day. Six weeks later, my mom discovered he had left her a present and tracked him down. She found him at the end of Lonely Street, called her daddy to meet her, and they knocked on his door.
“You’ll marry my daughter or else,” my grandpa said as he waved his gun at my daddy.
“Yes sir,” my daddy said. “Go find a minister and I’ll get dressed.”
But instead of getting dressed, my daddy jumped off the roof, which is why they call it the Heartbreak Hotel.
My mom went back home to her parents, and that’s where I was born, but she was never happy in Maine again. We began to wander like my daddy had, staying for a time in various small towns while Mom found a little work, and then moving on again.
We traveled around the midwest and back; by the time I was in high school we were living off aid because employers didn’t care for my mom’s perfume: eau de booze. That winter of my junior year we were staying at a crappy motel halfway between Erie and Pittsburgh, when one Tuesday I got home from school and couldn’t wake her up. She’d mixed a bottle of sleeping pills with her gin. She was my mother and I loved her, but she put me through hell. I grabbed my things and got out of there before the authorities could take me from the Bittersweet Motel.
Then I began my own journey and some of it’s a bit hazy in my mind right now. I know I headed west; the East Coast had nothing for me but heartache and pain. I can’t remember exactly how long it took me to end up on that desert highway, cool wind in my hair, but the important thing is that I got here. I knew when I saw her in the doorway as the mission bell rang that I had found my way home again.
There’s plenty of room at the Hotel California. They have a nice courtyard where we dance every night. There are mirrors on the ceiling and pink champagne on ice… honestly, it’s pretty fancy, and I’ve never received a bill. I’m not sure where my car is though, since I can’t find a door to the outside, but I’ll look again tomorrow. I’m tired now.
This post was inspired by Jim @ Mindlovemisery along with the following songs:
“King of the Road” by Roger Miller
“Third Rate Romance” by Sammy Kershaw
“Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley
“Bittersweet Motel” by Phish
“Hotel California” by the Eagles
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