The Westwood 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, and she wears a flat, gold chain necklace that she touches when she is nervous. She is here to be close to a prisoner in Rainsville. I am here for Sentience Magazine, and a story called “All the Wrong Places”.

I’m here to ask why she wants to be anywhere near Bobby Ray Summers. 

How did you meet. Tell me how it started. 

Well. A mutual friend I guess you’d call it. 

You mean an inmate. 

Well yeah. 

That was, what, three years ago.

Little over, she says. 

Gina knows 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. 

So a mutual friend tells you about Bobby. 

Yeah, 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. 

She looks down. Pats the necklace flat and lights a Virginia Slim

Then he called you. Bobby I mean. 

Well I 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. 

Gina smiles. Runs her fingers over the gold chain. 

I know 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 I do. 

It must be hard though. 

Gina looks at the floor

Sometimes, 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 your maid

She tosses 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 Bobby’s eye. 

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. 

The Westwood 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. 

Peter Schwab, the motel owner, capitalized on the event with a series of tasteless ads, and for a time, people flocked to the Westwood. 

Online there are pictures of Room 19. Pictures of Gina. That flat, gold chain, caught in her mouth like a bit, and bare, except for a rose. 

Business is not what it was, but the Westwood Motel is still in operation. Room 19 is still available. People still request it. 

Women 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

And love sometimes waits at the window and opens the door.

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