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Heartbreak Hotel

by Jacqueline Doyle

Where the home is. Where the heart is. Orange polyester bedspreads dotted with cigarette burns. The pungent stench of Pine-Sol and insecticide and floral deodorizer. Home to the homeless. Heart to the heartless and the tender-hearted who can’t pay more than $35 for a bed and who knows about tomorrow night or what tomorrow brings but probably it will be the same. Another guy with $35 and whiskey on his breath. Another guy whispering promises and grabbing your crotch. More heartache and shame. Another hotel with stained brown-flowered nylon bedspreads. Green shag carpet with cigarette burns. Chipped tiles and mold in a damp bathroom reeking of disinfectant. I get so lonely, the King sang. I get so lonely, I could die. And he did.

Author's Note

Some of my flash start with an image, some with a voice or snatch of dialogue. Sometimes I envision a character or a situation from the beginning, or they develop as I write. While there’s an implied character here, this flash started with a mood and a rhythm and feels more lyric than narrative to me. Elvis Presley died on my husband’s 18th birthday, which probably has nothing to do with this story but is a fact we remark every year.

Jacqueline Doyle’s flash fiction chapbook The Missing Girl is available for order at Black Lawrence Press. She has flash in Monkeybicycle, PANK, and The Pinch, and forthcoming in Post Road and Hotel Amerika. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and can be found online here:

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