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Dustin Walker
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Inside Room 107

 

by Dustin Walker



Her voice trickled out of Room 107. Soft and pleading, but still loud enough to catch Johnny's attention on his way to the motel ice machine.

“No, sweetie. Please, don’t.”

Then a slap. A muffled cry. And what sounded like a mallet hitting a piece of raw steak.

Johnny knew that sound. He’d heard it every day as a kid while hiding in the pantry, listening as his dad beat on his mom. He imagined the woman on the other side of the door, huddled on the dirty carpet as some biker or gangbanger stood over her with a clenched fist. Her face swollen. Lips bleeding.

Johnny’s hands curled into tight balls. He glanced around. His Camaro and a jacked-up Silverado were the only vehicles in the parking lot. A pair of streetlights threw dirty tungsten on everything, but it was still pretty dark. And there wasn’t anyone in sight.

He pressed his ear against the door and listened.

Whispering. Harsh, pointed. The way you’d hiss I warned you or I fucking told you at someone. Johnny recognized that sound from his childhood, too.

Another slap. Another muted cry.

He grit his teeth and adjusted the giant skull ring on his index finger. He raised his hand to knock on the door just as the woman screamed, “Please, no!”

The door flew open. Johnny jumped back. A rail-thin girl stumbled out of the room, tripped and fell on the concrete. She wore blue jeans and a black crop top. Mascara ran down her face like inky tears.

She looked up at him but didn’t say a word. Didn’t ask for help. Johnny’s mom had never asked, either.

 

 

He stayed to the side of the door, just out of sight. Fists raised, ready to fuck up the bastard who would walk out of that room. Ready to unleash the pent-up fury from a childhood hell full of beatings and days spent in hiding.

Johnny bounced from foot to foot and wrung out his massive hands. Cracked his neck.

But he couldn’t wait. Fuck the sneak attack.

He lunged through the doorway, his skull-clad fist drawn back, ready to throw the hardest right cross of his life.

The room was empty.

Johnny dropped his hands to his side and wondered if the guy had slipped into the bathroom.

Light footsteps from behind. Johnny spun around.

The woman stood in the doorway with her arms folded across her chest and her face scrunched up like a crumpled roadmap.

“The fuck you want?” she said. Her voice thicker and stronger than before. “Sticking your goddamn nose where it doesn't belong, looks like.”

She walked up to Johnny and got right in his face. Her eyes had a hardness to them. And a distant, empty gleam.

“I heard you cry out . . . I wanted to help.” Johnny turned toward the bathroom for a second, worried the guy might jump him from behind. He turned back to the woman, just as she stuck a butterfly knife into his gut.

“Who’s the big tough man, now?” She smiled before pulling the blade out of Johnny’s abdomen. He slumped against the wood-paneled wall and clutched at his wound. Heart racing. Cold sweat streaming down his face. 

The woman wiped the knife on his jean jacket and slipped it back into her pocket. She put her hand on the doorknob and looked back at Johnny. “Everyone’s a fucking hero these days.”

Johnny’s legs gave out and he collapsed onto the carpet, hand still pressed against his spurting gut.

She turned off the light and closed the door, leaving him in darkness.

“Get in the truck, bitch.” Her voice carried into the room.

Then a slap. A muffled cry.

Johnny slipped into unconsciousness.

 

 

 

Dustin Walker is a former newspaper reporter who specialized in writing feature stories about addiction, homelessness, and other social issues. He now uses those experiences as inspiration for his fiction. His work has appeared in places like Dark Moon Digest and SilverBlade Magazine.

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