A True Story By Jay Slusher…
Some time ago, somewhere in Tennessee, I’d moved back to the 931 a couple of years before. I had kicked the booze and blow and pills and quit living my life like a Johnny Cash song. My lil’ granddaughter’s mother’s family was there and another daughter and her mother also. My love life has always been complicated and I was a rake and rambling boy.
In my younger days, I’d spent half my life working in the fast and dangerous world of Bourbon Street. It’s a rough lifestyle and I told myself I was taking a break. I found a job working at an automotive plant; it was a hellhole and they practically sell meth out of vending machines. My little town had gotten rough in the 20 years I’d been gone.
I really hated being there — too many bad memories. For once, I was doing what every girlfriend, etc. had ever wanted me to do: home and work. There was no drinking and very little womanizing. I wasn’t going to church or anything, but I settled into a routine. I worked four 10-hour days each week, Sunday through Wednesday, on graveyard shift, at a factory living a full but fairly comfortable existence in a rundown motel on the outskirts of town.
In some ways, it was the nicest place I had all to myself in years. When I moved in, it had a brand new California king-sized bed, a new full-size refrigerator, brand new toilet, hot water, satellite TV and the surrounding area was quiet most of the time.
I wasn’t hanging with anyone much over here. There was lots of drug activity and police, but other than running me for warrants every time they got a chance, they mostly left me alone.
On my three days off, I’d cook in my room and watch movies, read, etc. It was boring as fuck after awhile. I had been working weekends and holidays for decades in the New Orleans service industry, slinging booze and working the door, barbacking — the whole nine yards. I missed my friends, the action and the easy money.
One Saturday night, I was chilling and reading Blood Meridian and listening to Johnny Cash, watching TV on closed caption and I dozed off. Sometime later, I woke to total blackness. It was Lovecraft’s stygian darkness! I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.
My room was in the back on the bottom floor facing a nice little stretch of woods. I couldn’t find my phone or any flashlight. I had always been a nocturnal person — it’s why I preferred graveyard shift and working at “night” clubs. Always keep a couple of little lights on close by.
I felt my way to the door and it’s dark as a black steer’s tuchus on a moonless prairie night, to quote the great Sam Elliott. It was a perfect 70 degrees, no wind and weirdly silent. No bugs or night birds chirping and dark as my soul in every direction.
I could, however, see a little bit. There was heavy cloud cover and zero traffic sounds despite being only 40 yards from a busy well-traveled highway. Zero traffic. What the fuck? I’m walking around the motel up a slight hill towards the front, wearing only a t-shirt, pajama pants and socks on my feet. I’m thinking I might have died in my sleep? I was very confused and it kinda creeped me out, to be honest.
I thought: am I in purgatory? I died! And in a minute Papa Legba is gonna roll up in a mint condition ’66 Cadillac Coupe de Ville and take my ass to hell. Maybe I was just dreaming, but it felt real as fuck though. I could feel the decaying asphalt under my feet.
The front of the motel is dark as fuck, not even the emergency exit lights were on. As I walked the length of the motel, about 100 yards, I noticed very few vehicles. I’m getting more creeped out. The Subway shop and gas station next door were also blacked out.
Suddenly, on the second story balcony, I saw the outline of a man and the glow of a cell phone.
“Hello? What’s happening bruh?” I said to the man.
“Some drunk idiot hit a power pole down the road and the goddamned WiFi is out too!” he replied.
I’m just in a blackout? This time, it was an electrical and not a drunken blackout. The fuck? I wanted to shake his hand and buy him a beer! What a relief. Shit got really bizarre and surreal for a few minutes.
I walk a bit further and see the hospital where they butchered my foot a year ago. The hospital was lit up like a goddamned casino! They had generator power. Then I see the yellow light flashing on a company truck driving down the highway. Ah man, just fuckin’ wow.
I make my way back to the room and sat outside until the power came back on, which was about an hour later. Later, I had learned that the idiot who hit a pole was drunk as fuck and was his fourth DUI offense — and driving on a suspended license. Hello habitual driving offender status and 10 years before the driver will get it back to legal. Jay, I’m thinking to myself, you’ve got to get the fuck out of here!
That night was one of the weirdest and creepiest moments I’ve ever had in my life and I was cold sober. Let me describe it a bit more: it was some freaky, freaky, level nine-type Twilight Zone shit!
One month later, I left back home to New Orleans, where even the bizarre makes sense.