Sunday, January 31, 2010

Days Inn, Days Out: Cairo, IL

Here's me in Cairo, IL. Halfway between homes, mired in a ghost town at the behest of a broken transmission. The dirty snow melts to dirty water freezes to dirty ice, slick under my worn work boots as I chase stray cats and cigarette smoke in the motel parking lot. Days Inn, days out. No outside company save the short Middle Eastern man who watches the front desk and eyes me suspiciously while I dope-stagger to the Coke machine.

Long naked days with a heater that only heats, no compromise, and we leave towels heaped on the floor and fill styrofoam cups with bad coffee. The TV rattles and wheezes from its perch like a clockwork owl, no wisdom behind its slick glass eyes.

Factories loom beyond trees beyond railroad tracks, glowing with spook-lights and stretching towards Heaven. The rivers run by, collide and spin like rutting snakes, send muddy ejaculate tumbling towards Memphis and Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. The rivers have forgotten that Cairo still squats here, grinning with sharp soot teeth through thin lips, charcoal against pink receding gums. Cairo glowers and waits, champions its public library as an historical site, and falls asleep with its eyes open sometime between 7 and 9.

There are no sequential memories of Cairo, doomed little piss-hole. I can arrange no concrete diorama. It all was to be a dream. The week prior, drowning in liquor and getting my wool socks soaked. Highway 60 carried me east, belched towards Paducah on a wave of nausea, oh sweet drunk Missouri and her parting lips, ripe with flowers and stale whiskey, they glisten in the moon's reflection on the snow. Shea in the captain's chair, Matt in the back drinking tallboys of Old Style.

We will live on pork rinds and sex, and if need be I'll smash these chairs and this table and this nightstand with its Gideon Bible, and we'll build a roaring fire in the drained swimming pool, and we will roast stray cats and toast with warm Diet Coke, two dollars for a six-pack at the Dollar General.

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