microtel: a memoir

Hey. You free tonight? Get a room. I’ll get the guys.

Bang bang 😉

Sometimes I think I have powers no one else does. I can make any guy online do what I want so long as it involves naked bodies. Part of me forgets I’m dealing with men, undoubtedly married and closeted, and not dealing with objects I can control.

It starts with the firefighter.

No, that’s a lie. First it started with a void, below my feet and just above my head. I sank like a rock through its blank space as it molted into a hole, a canyon, and then an endless black hole. It swallowed me up. And we all know: nothing goes in a black hole and comes back out.

So it sort of starts with the firefighter. He’s easy because I’ve met him once before. If I knew what I wanted, he wouldn’t be it. There was a sea of headless torsos before him, pics snapped in the lowest of lights, phone calls where we only whispered. But I don’t know what I want. Or maybe I’m too numb to want anything at all.

This isn’t something I’m proud of. Though it’s not something I’ve tried to wean myself off of. If anything, I’ve pushed harder.

The firefighter has a really nice car—unlike him. He’s ugly, and that’s all right. We Uglies are always the best at night. Everything is easier at night. No need to pretend you’re anything but broken. Nighttime is full of filth.

He’ll drive to the hotel because I tell him to. Pay for the room because I tell him to. The others will arrive because I tell them to. I can’t tell myself anything at all; not once have I listened.

The firefighter agreed because, why not? I suppose we all have some sort of fantasy. Mine’s just a little twisted. I’ve never known anyone who’s done what I’m doing. Certainly not any of my senior classmates. They’re too busy bitching about the confederate flag and turning electric toothbrushes into home tattoo guns. Me, I’m on a mission.

There was only so far I could go with a razor. The little scores on my thighs piled up until there was nothing left to cut, and then I couldn’t walk. It wasn’t enough. Veins moved and hospitals roomed me with guards. I had to stop, but the darkness never did. All of it just made me hate living even more.

Sex was different. Sex didn’t leave marks that needed to heal—at least, not yet. I could be absolutely still and they never, ever stopped.

If I could find it in me to laugh, I would.

One guy is bringing drugs—says it’ll relax us. Poppers, he calls them. I’ve never done drugs, but the less I’m mentally and physically there, the better.

I hope one of them is crazier than me; or at least on the other side of crazy. Two ends of the pathological spectrum.

I close my eyes and see myself as I have so many times before: body twisted, blue as my mind, running with red wax that never quite dries.

I don’t have it in me, though. Suicide. It’s resilience, maybe, or my body’s desperation to feel anything but this numbness.

Got the room, Firefighter texts me. I’d given him my number so he couldn’t disappear like some did; like I will once this is over. The Internet is intuitive that way, the second things get sketchy you can just disappear. I’m making disappearing impossible for them, and likely for myself.

I don’t care about them or even myself. I’m a selfish bastard. It’s possible I was never alive, and if I was, I can’t remember. I just want to feel alive. Feel a body against mine. Or maybe that’s not it. Maybe I want something darker, something past pain and into a place where I don’t exist at all.

I wanna see pics of the others first, BeachBoy messages me.

They’re always so difficult; why do they have to be so difficult?

It’s because he’s hot. All the hot ones are like that. If they’re ugly, like the firefighter and me, they just ask for the address.

BeachBoy has muscular lines carving his body. I have white scars. We both have lines; they’re just carved a little differently.

I get the pictures and send them. No message back. Same old, same old.

Two more guys are in, and then one drops out. The swing of things is forever boring to me; people on the Internet are never true to their word.

BeachBoy’s messages disappear before my eyes.

I look at Firefighter’s bang, bang text again and almost wish it were a different bang. Not that they’re really all that different. I remember the way it first felt slipping into his sleek, red car. How he wanted to talk and I wanted him to shut up. He called me sexy. I loved it when strangers called me sexy instead of fag. I loved when they hurt me so I wouldn’t have to hurt myself. A void was filled. It wasn’t something I did. It was something done to me. Not my fault, not my fault, it was never my fault.

Still, I so badly wanted the whole world to go silent and feel a body on mine. That was why I let the Firefighter do those things. And the doctor. And the star, who’s popularity came attached with a threat. And all the others. Sometimes the silence only lasted for a minute, but it was enough. But I need it again. Again and again and again.

It never ended. It was never enough.

Perhaps I am both sides of crazy.

My phone vibrates in my hand. Always in my hand, never in my pocket. I’m like a dealer, dealing in vibrant, smooth flesh instead of powder. I shut my eyes and hope it’s the next guy asking for the address.

It’s my mother.

Where r u?

At Jazmin’s. Might sleep over.

I never tell the truth anymore.

*

I’m driving now. Everything’s arranged. All sex, all orgies, all risky business.

The bottle is bottomless. The night is bottomless. Everything is bottomless. Everything except the hotel room tonight. I need a Xanax.

Firefighter texts that he’s waiting in the room.

I swing into the McDonald’s right down the street from the Microtel and order fries and a sweet tea. Food makes me want to vomit, smelling and tasting it. I eat it anyways. My instinct to eat is directly linked to my instinct to suffer. Sick, sick boy.

Other nightwalkers are about, most of them looking for some munchies after a midnight toke. Would they believe me if I told them what I’d planned? That I was the ringleader.

You’re too young, they’d probably say. Just a few months over being legal doesn’t mean shit. They don’t know the things I can do.

He was always so quiet. So shy. I surprise myself too. It’s easy though, when you shut down. When you are absolutely nothing.

Sometimes I say I’m older, nineteen or twenty-two. Sometimes I have different names, like Julie or Brandon or Luke. Sometimes I’m so desperate to feel something it doesn’t matter if we protect ourselves.

The night is so still. I hate it. The air mocks me in its immobility, taking the little ounce of feeling I could have easily come in contact with. At least I’d felt the coldness of the pistol’s barrel the night I put it in my mouth. Here there’s nothing.

When there isn’t anything inside me, and nothing on the outside, I’m not really a much of a person at all. I am a shell, only screaming echoes inside.

I don’t remember what happy feels like.

As I idle in the McDonald’s parking lot, I search my phone and reel another in. He’s so close, just across the street. A church counselor from way down south. He’s afraid to be himself with them. We’re all afraid to be ourselves in a world like this.

He walks down the road to the Microtel. Because I tell him to.

I don’t remember driving to the hotel, don’t remember passing him with barely a glance. There’s something in my line of view, but it isn’t me. The edges of it are frayed like exhausted rope.

Then I’m there. Three spots down, the little numbers on the door glimmering as cars pass. Firefighter said 136.

My body is still on Earth, no more content than it was five seconds ago. If I could forget for just a moment… If I could just grab a feeling and keep it…

Steps sound on cracked pavement. My own feet are moving themselves.

The room waiting for me is the only one with lights on. I can’t fuck with the lights on. Not when they can see that it’s been so hard not to give in.

My hand brushes against my left thigh, still sore and red from a few nights ago. Angry. Brutal. Euphoric.

I’ll tell him to turn the lights off when I get inside. He’ll listen because they always do. Then the others will arrive. Four all together. Three against one.

Physically, I am prepared. Mentally, I am disabled. But sooner or later, this has got to fix me.

Room 136’s door looks different than the others. Almost like it’s warped, the paint peeling from whatever lies underneath. No matter what it was before, this room will now reek of sin.

My phone, still in my hand, buzzes. Mom. Plz come home.

136 winks at me. There’s a knock—my own. A chain rattles from the other side. My body rattles too.

People in the other rooms are either sleeping or watching dirty nighttime television. 136 is the center of everything. I am at the core, my mind asleep and numb but feeding those around me. I can’t wake up. I am the dirty nighttime TV. I am the very worst parts of me.

The door opens. I walk in.