hotel-song

Southwestern Gothic

- you’re on a lonely stretch of the freeway and running out of gas. you come up on a small town and exit. you spend an hour looking for a gas station. there are homes, a grocery store, a dentist, but no gas station.

- you’re ten miles out of a sizable town. you drive around a bend in the mountain and come upon a row of stalls. you walk up to one. behind a table covered in intricate beaded jewelry and beautiful stones sits a smiling Navajo woman. you comment on her work. she nods but doesn’t speak.

- you’re hiking. the sun is baking the back of your neck, and the ground beneath your feet slowly changes from brown to yellow to red and back again. you feel thirsty constantly, and every thirty or so feet a tower of perfectly stacked sandstone rocks tells you you’re going in the right direction.

- it’s night, and you’ve been dragged by your friends to a place the locals call “the narrows”, a slit in a canyon barely wide enough to walk through, horizontally. there’s a rock wall pressed to your back, sandstone beneath your cheek, and air leaving your lungs.
you look up at the sliver of black speckled sky and breath.

- you’ve been driving for three hours and have three to go. you don’t expect to see anything for miles, but you come up over a hill and out of nowhere a town appears. you pass old rusty trucks, a church with a crumbling marque, stores with broken windows, and houses with doors that move with the wind. a ghost town is being born.

- the air is hot, the skies are a stormy gray, and rain would feel cleansing to the dry ground beneath your feet. but it’s not going to rain. you know it’s not. To your west the mountain flickers red and orange, clouds rising from the wreckage into the swirling sky.

- you’re standing just in the shadow of a cliff, eyes glued to the structure in front of you. it’s a building, moulded like pottery from clay clinging to the cliff face. they’ve been her for centuries, weathering the desert, abandoned, and they still don’t know why.

- someone needs to pee. you all pile out of the car, and move the the edge of the road. you stare nervously at the sparse but paradoxically thick grass. Anything could be in there. gophers, lizards, crickets, rattlesnakes… you watch your friend anxiously as they step into the brush, then glance at your feet, praying you don’t learn what’s out there.

- it’s late, you’ve got fast food wrappers in your lap and the air outside is finally cooling. you’re driving out of the city, prepared for the next leg of your journey. you see a motel, the vacancy sign flickering, the song hotel california playing on the radio. you speed away.

- the air is different. you can feel the change in pressure. you watch the skies anxious, ready to smell the rain, and the desert when it rains. clouds roll in. the sky is black. but something is wrong. the air is too tense, charged, not rain you realize. lightning crashes on the mountains, thunder seconds behind, and the around you crackles.

- they call it goblin valley. hundreds of “hoodoos” cover the valley floor in different shapes and sizes. during the day it’s like a playground. but you came at night. it has one of the darkest night skies in the world. you stare up at hundreds of thousands of stars, but it always feels like there is someone watching you.