"You have five minutes after checking in to ask for a refund. Requests after five minutes will not be granted."
Blinking, I read the sign again as the motel cashier charged my credit card. Well, this doesn't bode well. How many people had demanded a refund within the first 10 minutes of seeing their room before the place decided that this five-minute limit had to be implemented?
"Smoking or non?" the motel cashier asked me through the bulletproof window.
"You still have smoking rooms?" I asked.
She laughed. Then cackled. Then rolled her eyes. Then harrumphed.
Oh, jeez, she's totally going to give me the room with the dead body inside.
We had pulled over for the night in Nowheresville, USA, stopping our 10-hour drive to see family for Thanksgiving.
The night had gotten off to a rocky start. Last-minute work had gotten us off to a late start. Fast food had gotten us off to unsettled stomachs. The DVD player for my young kids had broken. There had been traffic and bad weather. The fighting had been at a fever pitch. My husband had been falling asleep at the wheel when he had finally conceded to stopping at a motel.
We had pulled over at the first exit. I had gone inside and asked whether the motel had any rooms. The motel worker had laughed. Of course they had rooms.
The laugh itself had been unsettling. Is this the Bates Motel?