Casey Moir

Mr. Levine

Modern Fiction


Lost in the Holiday Inn

After a long time in one hotel, every door becomes the same and the numbers blur together. Serena has trouble in the Holiday Inn. So instead of wandering, she walks outside and smokes a cigarette. While cigarettes are often used as a phallic symbol in literature, here they are just cigarettes. Other common phallic symbols might be bananas, walking sticks, or guns. Serena likes bananas but she doesn't need a walking stick and she doesn't shoot guns. However, she does know what a penis is. So now, if there is a need for a reference to a penis, we can just say penis, not banana or walking stick or gun, or even cigarette.

There is a boy outside of the hotel lobby smoking a Black and Mild. Serena glances at him with heavily made-up eyes and then lights her cigarette smoothly with a white lighter. Colors are often used to represent themes that run through a story. They can also represent aspects of the protagonists character: like white for purity or black for sin.

The boy has dark brown hair and in the light it is almost black. The sun is going down and when Serena blows rings of smoke out of her lips it fades quickly into the August air. She can tell that the boy is looking at her. She looks up, gives a little smile. The boy is wearing a plain white t-shirt that fits his body well. The boy opens up his heart-shaped mouth and says, "I'm Hunter." The blatant introduction of such a fitting name might be used in other stories to imply that this boy is a heart-breaker. Perhaps his name might even be a reference to guns, or penises.

Serena does not think of these things. Instead, she takes a step closer and holds out her hand to shake, "Serena." Hunter likes looking at her body and he thinks of several things that should not be written down. Among them are several swears that revolve around sex. He takes a drag of his Black and Mild and watches Serena wrap her lips around the pure white filter of her Parliament light. This makes him think of other inappropriate topics that involve Serena and his penis.

Serena and Hunter, after very small talk and very big thoughts, find their way to a secluded spot in the back of the Holiday Inn. They do not kiss or fuck and Hunter does not see her cunt. These are all things he is still thinking of. Instead, they pack a bowl. Packing a bowl is a cultural reference to marijuana and a way to smoke it. This is a common activity among teenagers who think they are really rebellious. The real drug craze is said to have started in the 1970's, when such things as "acid" and "coke" became more popular. When these drugs started to fade into the American teenage subconscious as more extreme, marijuana became the cheap and popular drug of choice. However, in poorer communities, drugs like crack and heroin are still rampant. Back to the story.

Hunter tells Serena about what she is about to smoke and how good it is. They engage in a slow-paced and incomprehensible conversation about variations on marijuana and which ones are the best for getting one "fucked up". Using swears is often a way to introduce conflict slowly without too much plot build-up. But back to our two characters, who will never make it back inside at this rate of explanation.

After packing and smoking four bowls, Hunter and Serena walk very slowly towards the hotel lobby. Serena lights another strikingly white cigarette and leaves it dangling between her lips because holding it takes too much concentration. She lets it fall to the ground when they reach the doors and she tugs at Hunters arm with urgency. "I'm in room 169 and we can go there right now." She says it breathlessly but it comes out much slower than she anticipated and he looks at her and follows. If this was a love story he could have grabbed her and kissed her right there, in the center of the tiled floor in the Holiday Inn and they could buy the Honeymoon Suite and have passionate and beautiful sex.

They go to room 169 and Serena is already pulling off her shirt. Hunter helps her because he wants her. "Wait," she says in an eager voice, and then turns away from him and stumbles to the mini-fridge, "I forgot I brought this." To the side of the fridge is a very big bottle of whisky and Hunter smiles because the only thing easier than a girl under the influence of marijuana is a girl under the dark influence of alcohol and marijuana. She wraps her red lips around the glass bottle and swallows hard. Her breath comes out harsh but she pretends it feels good. Hunter drinks some too and then grabs her hips.

The ceiling fan is on and Serena is cold with no clothes on but it feels good to spin in circles so she lets it stay on. Hunter is over her and her breath comes harsh and she thinks she can see it in front of her. She watches the ceiling fan as it moves her and it's spinning and she's breathing without breath. She goes underwater under Hunter and it feels like death running through her veins. Death like a gunshot that leaves a war veteran tattered but proud. Hunter is less affected than Serena by both the marijuana and alcohol and so for him it is less intense. He thinks in his head how nice it is to be good-looking. This is not the only thing he thinks about.

Serena's eyes are bloodshot red and Hunter is untouched like marble. He has a white scar on his chest but she does not have the breath to ask where it is from. When he is finished and she is really breathless they decide to go smoke a cigarette. Hunter wants to get something from his room and he puts his white shirt back on. Serena zips a very big hoodie on and walks out of the room with just a pure white cigarette and a lighter. Hunter has already disappeared into the hallway and she is still spinning.

Serena watches her feet for a little while as they walk very carefully on the red carpet. When the colors blur it looks like she is bleeding. She stops watching her bloody feet. The numbers on the doors are all backwards and Serena can't remember how to read. The hallway has become hallways and she touches her mouth to make sure the cigarette is still there between her cold red lips. Maybe she will be lost for another two hours, until the high wears off and she remembers her literacy. Maybe a new boy will find her and he will not think of words like "fuck" and "cunt" when he sees her lips around a cigarette and he will not have a heart-eating mouth or a killing name. Maybe that's mixed up.

But instead Serena just sits down and falls asleep with her eyesight still spinning. Her white cigarette falls to the space between her skinny legs and she drools out of the side of her mouth. Her eyeshadow is smudged with sweat and it makes her look like she is already hung-over. When Hunter wakes her up, she looks at him with bloodshot eyes and gives him a very sloppy kiss. He grabs her by the arm, which will leave a dark bruise, and helps her walk to the lobby which was just down the hallway. He gives her a clove cigarette and she blows the harsh smoke out and watches the cars drive by with tires spinning.

The cars might be a metaphor for Serena because she is so very fast and turned on with a boy holding her stick shift. Or maybe they are just cars driving by because there is a road next to the Holiday Inn that is in some city in some state in the United States which is where the story is. Serena does not know that she has so many subtle details that suggest things in her life, so, ignorant, drunk, and high, she lights another pure white cigarette and stands outside with Hunter.