LITTLE BLACK SPIDERS
A middle-aged man is clambering the steps of a heavy goods vehicle. It’s his first time on board a truck and his first time away from a home he will not be returning to, although this information is unavailable to him at this time. He thanks the driver of the vehicle and sits in silence for approximately one hundred and seventy-two miles north. Reaching his destination, he thanks the driver again and tentatively leaves the truck and stands alone on the sidewalk for a few seconds as a plume of dust circles his feet like mini tornadoes. A desert sun is shining in his eyes and he squints, barely able to read the motel vacancy sign in front of him. He checks in under a pseudo name and refuses the offer to carry his bag from the motel bell boy. The bag has remained tightly gripped in a sweaty palm for the duration of the journey. He empties the contents of the bag on his fifteen dollar a night bed like a soldier preparing a kit for inspection. One bottle of bourbon. One bottle of unidentifiable pills. One toothbrush. One tattered copy of John Berryman’s Dream Songs. One shaving kit. One black ink pen and one A4 pad of recycled paper. He sits in the window of his room and takes his first drink. Outside, he reads a billboard ‘Jesus Saves’, he chuckles to himself. It’s eight in the evening and the sun is setting. A small group of bikers have just rocked up. The noise from the modified engines shakes the foundations of the motel, it’s impressive. They dismount their machines like cowboys on horses in some old western movie and enter a bar across the street. He doesn’t see them leave. It’s now two in the morning as he spins his empty bourbon bottle in front of him and waits for it to stop. It points west. He wonders if this will be his next destination. Drunk and tired and sun-stroked he drifts in and out of sleep. Ruminating the first stanza from Berryman’s Dream Song number twenty-eight that reads:
It was wet and white and swift and where I
we don’t know. It was dark and then
I wish the barker would come. There
seems to be to eat
Nothing. I am unusually tired.
I’m alone too.
He looks deeply into these lines. They are the only lines available in this moment and they are perfect. Little black words like little black spiders crawling under the skin.
Outside the motel room a man in a suite is standing. He holds a key in his hand and slowly raises it to the keyhole and pauses. The man in the suit will finish work early today. The man in the suit will join the bikers in the bar across the street where he will probably stay until all the little black spiders in the motel room have disappeared.