It was Labor Day weekend, 1999. My friend, Jess and I both had off from work so we decided to take a road trip. The official plan was to just drive with no particular destination in mind. Hoping for a little adventure we threw some clothes in our backpacks, loaded up and ice-chest with some sodas, made sure we had an adequate supply of smokes, grabbed a map (just in case) and hit the road.
Around 4 AM on Sunday morning we decided to take a break and find a hotel. We spotted on in Tylertown, Mississippi but as luck would have it there were no vacancies. The clerk informed us we would have to drive into McComb to get a room. The next one we went to was also full so we had to continue looking. Finally, we stopped for the night at a chain hotel, which we will let remain nameless to avoid lawsuits, that was right across the street from McComb City Hall. We got their last available room. It was now after 5 AM and Jess and I were ready to drop.
The front desk clerk had to let us into the room because they only had the one key. We grabbed our bags from the car and followed him up the narrow concrete steps to room #2. He opened the door for us and promptly left. We go in and flick the light switch but nothing happens. No problem, I thought, because from the light coming in from the parking lot I could see three lamps in the room. I checked them one by one but alas we still had no light. I dragged my tired body back down the stairs to the front desk and got the clerk who was able to “fix” one of the lamps by jiggling the cord and some duck tape. We were definitely not staying at the Hilton.
We knew there was no key, but were surprised to find that the door didn’t lock from the inside. This changed things a wee bit, so I picked up the phone to call the front desk and you guessed it, there was no dial tone. Utterly tired and past caring any longer we started piling furniture against the door; the mismatched chairs, the table with the broken leg, topped with our ice-chest and backpacks made us feel a little more secure.
By this time we were giggling hysterically and knew that sleep would not come soon. So we decided a little TV would do the trick. I flipped the power button but the screen stayed black. Of course…oh well. Instead of TV Jess suggested we flip through the obligatory copy of the Bible, King James version, which, as the cover informed us, had been placed there by the Giddeons.
The air conditioner didn’t work so we turned on the box fan that thankfully came with the room. We sat for awhile looking at our room in the dim lamp light. The walls were a strange shade of aquamarine that had been touched up over the years with different shades of aquamarine. Hot, sweaty and tired Jess decided a shower was in order before sleep. She discovered that there was only one small towel, a microscopic bar of soap and the shower curtain didn’t cover the width of the shower. Considering the conditions and the multiple dead roaches both on the floor and in the tub she opted to wait.
We both pulled back the comforters on our respective beds to find flat pillows and stained sheets. We decided that it would be ok, just this once, to sleep on top of the covers. Laying back trying to get comfortable I noticed the graffiti. Pentagrams and various names and sayings had been spray painted on the ceiling. What a lovely place we had found.
We actually fell asleep at some point because the next thing I knew the phone was ringing. Yes, the same phone that had no dial tone when we wanted to use it was ringing at 9 in the morning. A woman was calling to inform us that check out time was at 10 AM. I explained to her that the gentleman who had checked us in at 5 had told us we could stay until noon. She said that was no problem so I gratefully went back to sleep. However, at 9:45, there was a knock on the door. It was a lady telling us to leave. Not feeling like arguing the point I woke up Jess and we returned all the furniture to its former state. We grabbed our belongings, took the Bible as a memento and gladly left our luxurious lodgings in search of some strong coffee.