Yeah, Vin. Was the desk clerk with the Satan tattoo behind the caged smoky office downstairs a guy or a girl? On a cracked, peeling and stained muted-green wall, next to a window that faced an outdoor alley wall three-feet away where water was dripping from somewhere above, a doomed fly was stuck on scotch tape on a three-year-old calendar that advertised Alameda County Hardware Supply Company. A ceiling bulb flickered while gasping for energy and a senile ceiling fan resigned to its lazy or arthritic repetition produced not a comfort in this sordid place of swelter with its yellowed sheets and pillow cases and unmistakable aura of derelict hopelessness. A liquor store with a perennially blinking neon sign and a checks-cashed place could be seen through a sliver where the alley let out to the street below where both mandatory city establishments sucked the blood out of many who entered. The former a portal into hell and the latter its ticket. Sporadic sounds of drunken disorder with its wild emotionalism could be heard not far away.  The radiator pipes played their post-modernist beats in the middle of July already, and how many tricks were turned in this sad box? And whoa the tales this frayed carpet, tattooed with traces of dried vomit and wine spill ghosts, could tell! Any suicides or murders here? This obscure room, this shabby hotel, this wanton street, this lost universe isn’t on a California postcard, but maybe some former residents or visitors might well have had their sullen countenances glowering from post office walls from time to time and earned some infamy for themselves. Is this San Francisco, Vin, or was that yesterday? Let’s tell Don Hendly that this is the real Hotel California, the end of the line maybe but not the beginning of the California Rainbow certainly, maybe more like where naïve dreams are snuffed out and nightmares rule waking hours and I was thinking of going out for hamburgers and a slurpy and something cheerful to read but somebody just banged loudly on the door and who-the-hell-could that be, the clerk?






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