brass room number had come unhinged by a screw and dangled upside down. The doorknob had been brass at some point, but years of grubby hands had faded it and rubbed off some of the finishing. The once bright blue door was dingy and dirty, streaked with mud and what looked to Taryn like feces. The door had been kicked in at the bottom, the wood splintered and scruffy.
Someone had taken a black spray paint can and written “Peace” at the top. Only they’d apparently ran out of paint there at the end so it really read “Peac.” Someone else had attempted to paint a red heart inside a neon green guitar around the room number but the green paint, over the blue, got lost. The color reminded Taryn of bile, the kind she saw when she’d been vomiting for awhile and had nothing left in her stomach but acid.
To the right of the room was a window. With the plywood barrier removed, she was able to see the glass, boldly intact. The tattered lace curtains that hung limply inside were surprisingly feminine for such a place; the holes in the fabric looked like they’d been made by cigarettes and moths.
As she gazed at their delicateness in a sea of hostility and deterioration, she thought she saw one of them flutter, a slight movement that had her catching her breath a little.
“Closer,” a voice whispered provokingly. “ Please .”
Casting a quick glance over her shoulder, she looked back at Aker. He was in his chair, a book in his hand. He could have been reading or napping; it was hard to tell behind those dark sunglasses. He didn’t appear to be watching her, though.
He certainly hadn’t whispered to her.
Taryn reached her hand out towards the door, fingers trembling a little. When her fingers touched the cold, hard knob, an electric jolt flashed through her. The blue spark that shot out from the door flashed in front of her just as a fat raindrop landed on her nose. Both had Taryn jumping back onto the sidewalk, clutching Miss Dixie for comfort.
“Oh, come on,” she laughed nervously. “It’s just static from the weather.”
Yet from the corner of her eye she saw the hint of movement in the window again; the curtains were moving. It wasn’t her imagination.
And she hadn’t imagined the voice. Something was inside that room.
Taryn stood as still as she could and watched the door and window. He had died on the other side of that wall, Ruby Jane’s band mate and, by most accounts, her lover. A heroin overdose.
When the motel was still open and operating, musicians and devotees had flocked to the room and made a virtual shrine of it, leaving behind guitar picks and song lyrics they’d composed themselves in honor of his untimely death.
Many claimed his ghost still lived in the small room, forever trapped within the four inauspicious walls.
Taryn would have to go inside sooner or later. Her curiosity would eventually get the best of her, not to mention the fact that Ruby had specifically asked for a painting of the interior.
She’d save the exploration for another day, however. If Parker Brown’s ghost was indeed living within Room #5, then she’d meet him eventually.
She always did.
“ S o what’s the verdict, doc ?”
Taryn had been waiting on the examination table for thirty minutes. Her doctor always ran late, but since she usually had a book with her she didn’t normally mind. However, today the sky was clear for the first time in four days and she was itching to get back to the motel.
She’d wanted to reschedule the appointment. This was an important visit, though, and she needed to be there.
Her doctor, a young woman with long brown hair, closed the door and pulled her stool up next to Taryn. In her hands she held a folder, several inches thick. It was Taryn’s records from the past year. She’d turned into their biggest client; Taryn liked to think her insurance payments were keeping the entire office up and running. She’d been there so much that the staff had gotten