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by Niles Reddick

At the Ramada, Sunday from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. was the best shift to work the desk. The travelers along the interstate were destined for their homes on Sunday. It was often slow, and the only guests who had reservations on Sundays were mostly business regulars, except Mr. Frazier, an elderly man.

“You doing okay?”

“Sure am.” He was dressed in a three piece, hat, and freshly shined shoes. Reeked of Brut. “Need a single.”

“Yes, sir.” He always wanted a single. On the back side, so passing cars didn’t recognize his.

“On the back side. And here’s my discount card,” he said. I didn’t need his card. I knew he had one. We’d gone through this routine about twice a month for the past three years.

“Yes, sir. That’ll be $34.95.” He already held a twenty, ten, and five, and I gave him a nickel back and handed him the key.

“Enjoy your stay,” I said. Technically, he wouldn’t stay. I really didn’t know what to say to him. I wanted to know what he did for a living, if he went to church before coming here, if he was married or widowed, if he picked up women after church to bring to the motel for sex, beginning the new week with sin. I was curious, even fascinated, with the mysterious and deviant behavior, and it was the first time I thought of elderly and sex going together. I didn’t want to imagine it or ask my grandparents. I just naturally assumed they were like the Cleavers, sleeping single in single beds.

He nodded, grinned, and went out the glass door. I watched the near perfect 1970s Chrysler pull away, disappearing behind the two-story orange brick flat roof hotel that in just a few years would be torn down and replaced with a high rise, updated to attract a newer generation of travelers, business folks, and shack jobs with continental breakfasts, mints on pillows, and coffee or hot tea in the room.

A couple of hours later, the Chrysler drove slowly by, and I sent the night maid around to clean the room. “Don’t ever look messed up at all,” she said. “Just an empty bottle of Mogen David and an empty Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket.”

“You think they get it on, Delores?”

“Uh-huh. I think they just make the bed, so we think they don’t.”

“Even at their age?”

“You’re crazy. You keep on till you can’t and then they got medication to help.”

Niles Reddick’s collection Road Kill Art and Other Oddities was a finalist for an Eppie award; his novel Lead Me Home was a national finalist for a ForeWord Award, a finalist in the Georgia Author of the Year award in the fiction category, and a nominee for an IPPY award. Niles has been a participant at the Canton Arts Festival, Southern Festival of Books, the Chattahoochee Valley Writers’ Festival, the Pellissippi College Write-In, and the Upper Cumberland Writers’ Festival. For several years, he was a guest blogger on A Good Blog is Hard to Find and has served as a freelance editor. His work has appeared in the anthologies Southern Voices in Every Direction (Iris Press) and Unusual Circumstances (Pocol Press) and has been featured in many journals and literary magazines, including The Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies, Southern Reader, Like the Dew, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Pomanok Review, Corner Club Press, Slice of Life, Deep South Review, The Red Dirt Review, Faircloth Review, New Southerner, and many others. He works for the University of Memphis at Lambuth in Jackson, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife Michelle and two children, Audrey and Nicholas.