Photo Story: A Night at the Craig Inn

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising. This issue’s photo prompt inspired some rather noirish tales. Get ready for a dark night of the soul.

Shards of painted evening glass pierced my eyes in waves of zephyr-blown, slanted cracks emerging from the fabric woven blinds interrupted our shallow embrace. $40 and change on the nightstand; its only a step over to return to that beckoning bulb for another round of bitter memory. Blue jeans up, boots on (she can keep the tee), the rustle of sheets behind me, a gaping hole like a broken tooth grins next to the tertiary answer to love. Tiptoed two steps then, fuck it, clomped out letting the screen door slam. Everyone knows. Twilight: the loneliest place in the world.

—Harriet Watt

I want to leave all I know behind. I want to hitch hike out of here, and just go. I want to leave far behind the eyes that don’t see me, the tongue that whispers threats to me, the hands that brand me with his mark. All I know is paralyzing fear. I know to stay small and keep the routine. Every night I feel myself age with each glass I clean, and each ash tray I dump out. Wanting and trying are two different things. Every day I want to leave this place and every day I remain here.

—April Golden

The nights we couldn’t sleep, we burrowed under the covers of your dad’s bed, staring wide-eyed at the water-stained wood ceiling, trying to hear the beating of our hearts but failing because the jukebox of the bar in the front was blaring, endlessly blaring. We didn’t move for fear that the covers would slip away and the vicious light streaming through the doorway would wash over our intertwined bodies, drown us in cold. We almost slept, our arms draped over each other, lips pressed in shallow bliss. And we wondered why this life wasn’t the one we hoped we’d find.

—Ishrak Alam

My heart pounded. Beer cans thrown in the weeds made the air smell. I’d been here before. I knew the trailer next door was abandoned. I’d seen mold caking the walls. I knew there was a mattress in one room stained with cum and piss. Most of the windows had lost their screens. I saw the dusky sky reflecting in them. Inside, smoke choked my eyeballs, took them time to see into the mash of bodies. For a second I feared being early. My heart slowed until I saw his tattooed arm shimmering and the glint of his lip ring.

—Megan Sterner

Teetering on stiletto heels, Alice stopped and pulled out the wrinkles of her lamé miniskirt, wishing she could fix the wrinkles on her face as easily. Her back hurt. Her feet hurt. Her tits hurt. She inhaled deeply and released the life giving air, deflating like a child’s popped beach ball. “Bills don’t pay themselves.” The raucous laughter of the private bachelor party backed by the wails of headbanging metal chords shattered the silence as Hank erupted from the bar door. “You’re late!” Raising her chin Alice strutted toward her neon-lined coffin, almost catching her heel in the cracked cement.

—Greg Burgess

The drunks stumble around like sick bees lingering after the pesticide van makes its rounds well after midnight. They holler and laugh and jeer. They piss and puke and cum on the side of our double wide which we purchased because it was the only thing we could afford after the second child. Our double wide is an invisible public whore listening to all their stories and we are her pulmonary valves pumping electricity and gas and water and softly shutting her weather worn eyes at night because the bees are sad and shy and don’t want to be seen.

—Miles Stearns

One Response to “Photo Story: A Night at the Craig Inn”

  1. Kathryn says:

    Well, I know Kentucky would not be “upscale” by any means but when I signed up for a church trip to “help our neighbors in need”, little did I expect to end up in Appalachian Hell. Our group did not go to the usual “dry county” we visited every summer. Instead, this summer, we went near the big city which “so needed our help”. First night in, I found myself staring in the window of a peeling framed bar, cast aglow by a single bulb……and the house I was to “live” in, next door looked equally as scary! YIKES!!

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