Linda set her glass down and examined her wrist. I wonder how painful it is, she thought. If the razor blade was sharp, perhaps it wouldn’t be too bad. Of course there was the matter of using that hand to do the other wrist. Still, others had gone before, so it was possible.
She leaned back and closed her eyes and pictured herself in a bathtub. Wasn’t that how it was usually done, in a bathtub? She looked around the dimly lit bar. Broken dreams and lost potential. That’s what you found in a seedy dive at one in the afternoon. At least the men were too old or too far gone to make a pass at her. Silver linings and all that.
Getting back to method she ruled out all the others she could think of. Hanging. No, too much work. A bullet? She had no gun and the waiting period simply wouldn’t do. Carbon monoxide? No car.
Linda picked up her purse and headed for the door when she noticed something about the bowl of matches by the register. One book was different from the others. Black with gold lettering. She took it as she passed and stepped out into the bleak winter sunlight.
Walking aimlessly she was greeted with catcalls and whistles by the detrius of humanity that claimed this godforsaken patch. No hopers with nowhere to go and nothing to do but make pathetic bids for attention. She ignored them and they let her pass.
She needed a place and a packet of blades. That was all it took. She stepped into a small market and found what she needed. The sad-eyed man slumped behind the counter mumbled the price without looking up. She dropped the matches on the counter as she rummaged through her purse. She picked them up, looked at the cover and frowned.
The ornate gold lettering said The Hotel Purge. She opened the cover. “Check in when you may. Check out when you might.” 183 La Grange Street. It must be fate, she decided, and headed for La Grange street.
The old hotel had once been quite well appointed, and while it was past it’s prime, there was a genteel air about the place that calmed her. The maroon pile carpet was thinning but well maintained. The ornate cage elevators still gleamed with gold leaf.
She approached the desk. “I’d like…”
The desk attendant, a tall thin man of indeterminate age with slicked back black hair looked up. “Good day madam. Yes, I know, you’ve been expected. Room 516.” He handed her a key.
“Oh, no, you see I didn’t make a reservation, I just…” she didn’t know what else to say.
“The lift is just over there, will you be needing anything else?” He gave her a thin smile.
“No…thank you.” She went upstairs, putting everything out of her mind but what she was about to do. She unlocked the door and stepped into…
The kitchen of the house she had grown up in. Her parents were by the sink, her father standing over her mother, cowering against the counter as he berated her, and there, in the corner was she as a girl of seven, taking it all in. She called out to her mother, but there was no response. On the opposite wall in bright red letters appeared “Go to room 502.” She turned and threw herself into the hall and slammed the door.
She gasped for breath. What the hell was this? She headed for the elevator. She pressed the button but nothing happended. She looked for the stairs. There were none.
There was no way out. Room 502. She walked down the hall with trepidation. She reached for the door knob and the door swung open. She took a deep breath and stepped in. It was recess, fifth grade. There she was, the skinny girl. The book worm. All the ones she had feared were gathered around her. Nancy, Judy, Ashley, calling her pig nose and stink bottom. she glanced to her left and there was a girl she barely remembered writing on the wall with a piece of red chalk, “Go to room 537.” She turned and ran.
She stumbled zombie-like down the hall and stood in front of the door. It swung open. There was her beloved cat Lucky, she could hear the screech of the tires. She could hear the sickening thud. On it went, room to room.
The night she was stood up for the senior prom. The football captain that got her drunk and took her virginity against her will. The first day of work at her new job when she spilled soup down the front of her expensive new outfit and everyone laughed.
At last she found herself in front of room 500. She knew what lay in wait for her here but she entered anyway. There they were. The man she loved with all her heart and soul and her best friend in the world going at it like rabbits. She looked for as long as she dared and collapsed in a heap on the floor, blackness descending.
She opened her eyes slowly and found herself in a plush armchair in the lobby. The desk attendant approched with a cup of tea.
“Are you feeling better?” he inquired in an even voice.
She blinked at him and considered the question. Yes. Yes she was. She nodded and looked away. He smiled and told her to take her time. Several minutes later she approached the desk.
“Time for you to get on with your life, madam.” he said simply and nodded his head toward the door.
She nodded and headed out into the bright sunlight.