I found Purgatory. Its a hotel in Missouri.

I recently returned from a 6 week road trip full of art, photography and tales, but first I want to tell y’all about how I got stuck in purgatory on my way home. I was driving home to Maryland from Colorado, when the flu hit me like a Mack Truck. I wanted to power thru and Just Get Home! But when that fever hit, I was a goner.

I booked a king room on the ground floor at the Motel 6 in Kingdom City, Missouri. The reviews looked decent and Motel 6 is USUALLY a safe choice, plus they don’t charge extra for dogs and I had both of mine with me.

I arrived at the motel at 2 pm, shuffling past the group of people smoking outside hauling my dogs and the bags I’d thought I’d need for a couple of days of recuperating. There was no one at the front desk, so I just sort of leaned there, hoping someone would come before I fell over. Several minutes passed and one of the people who had been smoking out front came in and apologized for the wait. Check-in wasn’t until 4 generally, but she was able to get me squared away, though in a room on the second floor rather than the first as there were no clean rooms on the first floor. I would deal. I just needed to lay down before I fell down.

I went to my room. Not a King, or a Queen or even a Full, but a Double. It would be a squeeze with my two bed hog dogs, but I was too sick to complain. The room seemed clean and that was all I needed.

The room had a flat sheet and a sheet-thin “bedspread” on the bed. Which may have been fine had a fever not struck, giving me the chills. I was so sick I couldn’t even bring myself to make a phone call, so I texted my husband and asked if he would call the front desk and request blankets. The woman who had checked me in very quickly came tapping quietly at my door, bearing a pile of blankets and an extra pillow. She asked if there was anything else I needed and to please not hesitate to call if I needed anything else, “or have your husband call! He loves you!”. She was very sweet and I so wish that hadn’t been the last I’d see of her, because her’s was the last decent service, real kindness or sanity I encountered over the next 5 days. All thru the next day I was barely coherent, masking up and leaving my room only twice to walk my dogs. That first morning, the guy at the front desk was sound asleep. I saw him from the balcony, rode the elevator down, walked past him with the dogs, walked back past him and road the elevator up again. I actually paused at the balcony for several minutes to make sure he was breathing.

On other occasions there was no one at the desk or answering the phones.

On the 3rd day I still had a migraine, body aches and was coughing severely, but my fever was down and I was more aware, which is when I started paying more attention to the absolute mayhem at this hotel. I had heard yelling off and on the previous day and thru the night, but it had barely registered in my semi-conscious fevered state.

But now it was right outside my door:
Man: You can ******* leave then!
Woman: Fine, Mike! I’ll move out. Give me my phone!
A door slams, followed by the sound of someone pounding on it.
Woman: Give me the phone or I’ll call the cops. Hey, *****boy!

More banging, stomping and yelling, which continued on to the lobby. Nobody said anything to them, despite it going on for hours.

I did call out into the hall once and ask that they be quiet because I was sick. That helped for about 5 minutes. Then the screaming continued in the parking lot. Later that evening the woman was just SHREIKING at her boyfriend. This continued throughout the night.

When the fighting started up again on the 4th morning I was at least well enough to call down to the front desk and ask if something could be done about them. The man at the front desk, sounding like he hated his very existence, said he would take care of it.

The screaming and fighting got bad enough that afternoon that I thought I was going to have to call the cops. The woman was screaming that she hated him and wanted him dead. At times she was screaming for someone to let go of her. I called the front desk and asked a new man what the heck was going on. He said he had no idea. I broke down on the phone and told him that this had been going on for days and I was too sick to leave. He said that he would talk to them and that his manager would be in that afternoon and call me.

That evening I was taking a shower and the smoke alarm in my room went off. I threw on some clothes, grabbed my dogs and headed out. My poor elderly dog was so scared he pooped in the hall. There was no one at the front desk, no one coming to see what the alarm was about. I found the desk clerk out front smoking. I informed him that my smoke alarm, which I could still hear from where we stood, was going off. He shrugged it off and informed me that the shower steam set them off all the time. I told him my dog had gotten scared and pooped in the hall. He said he’d get me something to clean it up with. He then asked if I was the woman from 218. When I confirmed he said that his manager had indeed come in that afternoon and that if I was staying longer, they would be willing to move me to another room further from the loud couple.

As we were chatting, I found out that much of the staff lives in the motel, and that the screaming people were STAFF. I had already been uncomfortable, but knowing that everything that had been going on hadn’t just been allowed by staff, but perpetrated by staff…holy cow. I thought of the screaming, slamming doors, banging on doors, cursing, threats of violence and then thought of how they had access to my room.

When I went inside he told me to hold on and he would get some paper towels for me. He handed me an actual towel. I asked him what he wanted me to do with it after I picked up the poop. He told me to just throw the whole towel out. Staff from upstairs angrily yelled about the dog poop. He yelled back that it was being taken care of. I can’t say I was surprised that staff would yell about it rather than help, as no one had offered to clean my room the entire time I was there.

It was probably something of a miracle that I got a clean room in the first place. And even though it all seemed clean and very, very bleached (really, you’d think they used bleach as an air freshener), there wasn’t a single sheet, pillowcase, blanket or curtain that didn’t have cigarette burns or holes in it.

The next morning I decided I couldn’t stay and was at least well enough to drive a few hours away to a safer hotel. I packed up my items and then went to the front desk to see if there was a luggage rack so I could more easily bring everything down. Sleeping man from several days previous told me to follow him back upstairs and he would get it for me. In the elevator, in his stocking feet, he stomped on a roach. He missed.

Upstairs he started unloading the luggage cart, which was piled high with trash bags. He then left me with the cart and left.

I piled my belongings on this rickety, stained, crumb covered luggage cart and hoped fervently that there were no roaches hitching a ride with me. I had to sit in my car for a while catching my breathe as my lungs wheezed and rattled, my head pounded, I saw spots and I coughed and coughed. I could’ve used another few days to recuperate, but….No.

I chose a hotel two hours away as my destination. When I made it that far, I picked another one two more hours away. And then another two hours past there. I felt like I was escaping purgatory and that if I didn’t get far enough away, I’d get dragged back. But that may have been the flu talking…

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