Motel is a mile from the city limits, and five miles from the prison in Rainsville. For the last three months, Room 19 has been home to a woman with long,
dark hair and a rose tattoo on her shoulder.
Gina is dressed in jeans and a black, sleeveless top. She wears a flat, gold chain necklace that she touches when she is nervous. Gina is here to be close to a prisoner in Rainsville. I am here for
Sentience Magazine, and a story called “All the Wrong Places”.
to ask why she wants to be anywhere near Bobby Ray Summers.
you meet. Tell me how it started.
Well. A mutual
friend I guess you’d call it.
You mean an
what, three years ago.
over, she says.
to the minute when she met Bobby. Bobby Ray Summers is serving a 99-year
sentence at Rainsville. He pistol-whipped a gas station attendant, took
thirty-six dollars from the till and stomped the man to death.
mutual friend tells you about Bobby.
Theo, we were pen pals. Then we started talking on the phone once, twice a
week. Theo said, I think you and Bobby would hit it off. Your personalities are
a lot alike.
down. Pats the necklace flat and lights a Virginia Slim.
called you. Bobby I mean.
wrote him first and gave him my number. A week later the phone rings, it’s him.
He was so sweet, and nervous, we both were.
Runs her fingers over the gold chain.
what you’re thinking, she says. You look at Bobby and you see a killer. And I
see a man who makes me laugh. Even when I don’t want to. And sadness, a boy,
trying to be a man. I see things no one wants to. Nobody. Nobody knows Bobby like
It must be
at the floor.
she says, I wish his socks were here. I wish I was coming behind him and swearing
and picking up his socks. I wish he was here yelling Gina make me a damn sandwich.
I wish he was here so I could yell back, make your own damn sandwich, I’m not
her head. Long, dark hair falls on her rose-covered shoulder.
When his schedule allows, the chaplain at Rainsville brings around a cart with magazines
people have donated. In one, a story called, “All the Wrong Places”, catches
On a night
when it rains, he falls to the floor, clutching his stomach and wailing. An ambulance comes, he is rushed to Regional Medical. In the rain and the dark, when
the ambulance stops, Bobby Ray Summers escapes.
opened its doors in 1962, and closed them again, briefly, two years later; a woman
was stabbed to death. In Room 19. The locals called it The Bateswood Motel.
Schwab, the motel owner, capitalized on the event with a series of tasteless
ads, and for a time, people flocked to the Westwood.
are pictures of Room 19. Pictures of Gina. That flat, gold chain, caught in her
mouth like a bit. Bare, except for a rose.
is not what it was, but the Westwood Motel is still in operation. Room 19 is
still available. People still request it.
still write to Bobby Ray Summers. They write more, now that he’s on death row.
A poet once
said, evil is always human and shares our bed and eats at our table.
Love waits alone in a room and opens the door.