Because my head is still foggy from equal parts shame & hangover yesterday, I'm posting a part of a story I wrote a couple of years ago. Cathy, who tops my list of people I wish would move back to San Francisco, has been working on illustrating this story. It may be a ways off until it's completed, but I thought I would share some drawings she's been working on too.
We never drive through the night. In addition to both of us having bad night vision, Jake and I also have a strange obsession with motels. Before leaving for our drive across country it was silently understood that there would be no need for tents on this trip. No pulling into rest stops and crashing in our cars. No sleeping in KOA caps. It would be motels and only motels. No splurging for a nice hotel with a clean pool. Just musty, dark motel rooms with comforters we would be afraid to touch and showers we would want to wear our socks in.
In every town it’s the same. We drive around a bit and find the cheapest looking place to rent a room. We always ask for two beds. We always get funny looks. Especially here, in Utah. I don’t know why, as far as I can tell we look like two normal kids, maybe a little road weary, but we shower and seem to smell all right. And for the most part we are two normal kids, if you can call a couple of twenty-two year olds kids and if you can look past our face ticks, obsessive tendencies and general awkwardness and still call us normal. Maybe its better to say we’re two fairly average adults, moving out west to find something we couldn’t dig up in the suburbs. Jake’s had his heart set on Vegas but I’ve chosen the foggy more romantic, San Francisco.
In every room it’s the same. Jake unlocks the door and heads straight for the nightstand, he checks the top drawer, picks up the bible, holds it in his palm and then thumbs through it for exactly 17 seconds. He’s had a thing for bibles ever since we were young. He started stealing them from church when he was twelve. The Pastor caught him one day as he patted his back and felt the hard square tucked into the back of his pants hidden behind his baggy sweater. He didn’t get in too much trouble, Jake made up some bullshit story about stealing it for his great grandmother who was bed ridden and too poor to buy her own bible. That’s when Jake found out about the Gideons, the group of people that have made it their mission to supply every corner of the world with their bibles. He got a long lecture on the Gideons from Pastor Dan that day and he’s hated them ever since. He says I should hate them too as they treat women pretty bad. For all the bibles they drop off it always has to be a man doing the dropping. I don’t really give a shit, there are too many crazy groups of people to start worrying about and once I start hating one group what’s to stop me from hating all of them? I’m far too critical already and I figure some day its bound to catch up with me so it’s probably better to remain neutral about religious groups. Just in case.
Once Jake found a note tucked inside one of the bibles, it had a phone number and someone's chocolatey finger prints. It smelled like red wine and the salt of someone’s tears. It was pretty wrinkled and worn but Jake left the note in the drawer after he took the bible, just in case it was meant for someone who hadn’t discovered it yet. I had begged him to let me keep the note, but he said it just wouldn’t be right considering the circumstances that seemed to go with it.
Jake’s back seat is filling up with bibles. I don’t understand why he’s taking them but I understand the comfort he finds in them. How they’re always there, in every single room from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Salt Lake City, Utah. They’re like strip malls or gas station bathrooms, something you can count on. Having found such a deep comfort in their presence, I don’t know why he takes the bibles. Even if he has it out for those Gideons, he’s got to understand how he’d be fucking with someone else somewhere down the line. Some lonely man just like himself who, having driven ten hours on Route 80, wants nothing more then to get a room somewhere, throw himself on the hard bed and feel the weight of that bedside bible in his hands.