The tow truck driver made me think of a hard-living Santa Claus, the way he might dress on the other 364 days of the year, smoking a cheap, nauseating cigar. After he unhitched my car at the garage, I decided to check in at the motel down the road, a cheerless little place I could tell, even in the dark, hadn’t seen much recent business. Several dozen keys on identical chains hung from nails behind the front desk, where someone was sleeping slouched way down in a cushionless, wooden chair. I debated the best way to wake the teenager behind the reservations desk, when she woke on her own with a sudden start.
“Hey, that’s my pig!”
She seemed to wait for me to say something in response.
“Hi, I need a room. Just something basic. I’m alone.”
I’d cycled through the stations twice, giving the content on each channel no more than a few seconds to interest me. A car exploded, a man offered another man a cigarette, a woman smiled into a thousand rooms like mine, the lessons of Christ were preached, a vacuum was dragged across the carpet, I was told what to want, a gun was fired, the credits rolled past. I didn’t quite know what to make of this flickering screen of miscellaneous humanity, but couldn’t help from feeling a little disappointed as I turned it off. I cracked open another bottle of something from the minibar, allowed myself briefly to contemplate my own death, then read a few pages from Finnegans Wake, chosen at random, to help me fall asleep.