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  • Steve Bell

No Vacancy

by Steve Bell


The orange light blinked off and on, on and off. All the beds were taken, rooms overflowing with guests. One young couple turned away. “There’s a carport out back.” says the clerk, his eyes teetering on the edge of sleep. “You’re welcome to use it, No charge.” The tiny lobby of this, the smallest Motel Six in Bethlehem reeked of frustration. The woman’s hands now reach out to calm her husband’s nervous fingers as he drums the coffee-stained countertop. “My wife is very pregnant. We've been driving all night, are you…” “The carport, sir, take it or leave it.” Joseph escorts his beloved back to their car, starts the engine backs up then, forward motion and a sharp right turn onto a crumbling driveway, the parking lot littered with broken glass and empty wrappers of God knows what. They open the doors, pop the trunk climb out of the car shivering staring into the dark accommodations, grabbing their backpacks, pillows and sleeping bags. Joseph, flashlight in one hand, green tarp in the other searches for a smooth spot to make their bed. The young mother to be stands still, her hands now grasp her belly. She smiles wide, the child inside kicks his feet as if suddenly startled by a burst of starlight and the sound of bleating sheep.

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