Here is a small excerpt from the novel I’m working on. It’s called SPEED TRAP TOWN. It’s about two men who meet one fateful evening in a motel, fall in love, and decide to go on a crime spree. Look for it in December!
Inside the hotel, Tate Walker waited. The Route 54 Motel. Hard to say what was worse about the place. Could have been the pink tiles on the bathroom floor, like something out of 1995, the broken paint on the walls probably covered in lead, the thinnest sheets in the world, or the awful floral paintings that hung over the checkered bedspreads. All in all, there was nothing good about this place. But he was here. For reasons he wasn’t he even sure of. That was a lie. He knew why he was here.
He checked the messages on his phone. Mostly from his mother. No one in all of his little New York town knew he was here right now. And it was better that way, frankly. Besides, it was nine-thirty at night anyway. Most of the town was sleeping soundly in their beds. But Tate wasn’t. He was in this crap motel room, miles from the nearest person who knew him. Alone. For a little while.
Tate was a simple guy. He liked things the way they were supposed to be. Never liked things out of place. Liked his routine. He had what you would call a stocky build. He only shaved his face when it got too lumberjack for him and made him start to look older than his thirty-three years. He liked flannel shirts and baseball caps, Baltimore sports teams, pulled pork sandwiches, staying up late. He liked things that had nothing to do with his life. Another message came in on his phone. This one from his boss at the factory where he worked.
Goddamn, Phil. Give me a minute of peace.
He hated that name about as much as he hated the man attached to it. Minimum wage. That’s what world hands you for a job that made you work hours on end. Leave you busted and broken. And don’t even think about overtime. No. God forbid you get overtime. That’s just crazy talk. Tate had one of those jobs where they made you start work two hours earlier, but forbade you to clock in until the precise time you were actually supposed to be there. It was robbery, but they didn’t care. Using up his wages and then claiming poverty when he’d ask for more. All the while, Philip and his cronies make out like bandits. All the while, Tate goes home worrying about his paycheck and how he’s going to afford groceries.
Tate didn’t have much to his name. He had a crappy little one bedroom apartment. He wished he had the money to buy cookbooks because he loved to eat and loved to cook. But those were too expensive. Indulgences he couldn’t really afford. Life wasn’t much. He would finish a 15-hour workday, and walk the steps up to his apartment. Passing by the fake palm trees and pastel paints that made the complex look like a bad Florida postcard you send to your aunt you don’t care about. He thought of all those movies that try to tell you what poor American lives are like. They never got it. And how could they? Made by men in LA. Trust fund kids with a camera. Men who think their doing some service by showing these lives. Men who think they are being artsy, like they’re doing some civil service. They weren’t.
It was all fake. The whole thing. His job, his friendships, his life. It’s why he would come to places like this motel. He would start talking to a guy online, they’d strike up a conversation, and then they’d meet somewhere. Somewhere seedy and unrecognizable. And for a few hours every week or so, he was just a stranger. He got to live a life that he always wanted. He got to talk to a man, be intimate with a man. Back in his little ramshackle town, he didn’t get that freedom. He didn’t get to have that connection. They all had big mouths and glaring eyes back there. They made him feel less than, like he was wrong somehow. They were good folk, but they just didn’t get it. What he felt wasn’t what they felt. And that’s hard for anyone to square away with. Maybe he could have the life he wanted in that town, but he wasn’t about to take the chance.
He knew he was gay for decades now. But when you live in a small town like this one, you don’t always get the same luxuries afforded to big city people. There’s no town to escape from when this is home. There’s no other life you got to lead when this is the only life you know. Sure, Tate could have headed out on the next train to a city like New York or Philly. He could have started all over. But it’s not so easy for a man to just pack up and leave for good. He would create reasons in his head why, but he knew he was just making excuses. Leaving is scary. Staying is easy. Whenever the thoughts came in, he’d swipe his phone and forget about the feelings deep inside. The best distraction in the world.
The truth was, he liked the town. He liked the people. He liked the little coffee shop where he got his coffee. He liked the smallness of it. And he never had much anyway. He was a blue collar guy. He wasn’t someone who longed for the tall buildings and busy streets. He liked knowing everyone’s name. Routine was a thing he appreciated. He didn't want to escape his life. He wanted the small town life and the life with a man. He wished he could have both. But he never saw it that way. Like everything in life, there are things we want, and there are things we just don’t get.
It was a few minutes later that Julian arrived. He came with two knocks on the door. Tate looked through the hole in the door, just to make sure. Can’t be too careful. It was him alright. Just like his picture on the screen. He opened the door and Julian walked in.
“Hi there,” Julian said.
“Nice to meet you,” Tate responded.
Julian didn't look too much different from Tate. He had a little more muscle on him. He had less of a paunch in his stomach. He had tattoos on either side of his arms, puzzle pieces intersecting in and out of each other. He came in wearing a baseball cap and a flannel shirt and tight blue jeans. Just like his picture.
“Fancy place you found here,” Julian commented, looking around.
“I don’t need much,” Tate said. He picked up an air of superiority in Julian’s voice. He didn’t like that very much. “I like it quiet.”
Tate didn’t waste anymore minutes. He wasn’t here for pleasantries. He was here to do what came natural to him. He flung himself at Julian. Pressing him up against the wall.
“Damn, you don’t waste time, do you?” Julian said.
“I don’t,” Tate responded.
“Do you want to talk at all,” Julian said with a smile.
“Not really.” Tate went for his neck.
And they got down to what they came here for.