Jesse Jarnow

the motel party, no. 4

“Mama, You Been On My Mind” – Lee Ranaldo (download)

The Motel Party: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, no. 11, no. 12

“My old man knew his old man,” Peabody said, nodding up the stairs, towards his sleeping father, who we’d helped from the toilet and back to bed. “Didn’t grow up together. Only showed up, shit, sometime after his dad. Didn’t know he was a writer at first. I know he had a reputation in the city for knowing everybody, but he pretty much kept to himself out here. Old man fit right in, though.” Peabody’s cheeks had hardened into a permanent softness, like they’d bloated outwards at a young age and solidified before worry lines could arrive. He sipped a Bud. It was past dinnertime. Every time I asked him a question, he stared suspiciously at my digital recorder on the table between us. He forgot it as soon as he started to talk, but didn’t offer anything I didn’t already know: Gene had stopped writing after his arrival, and became an enraged, alcoholic Goldwater supporter, like the ailing father he’d come to take care for. He tried to explain the explosion of emotion when Gene, the self-exiled writer, came into the bar, what the night would turn into. Peabody saw my disappointment, and suddenly looked very old. “Tell you what,” he said, smiling. “I’ll get something together for you.” He stood up. “For you,” he repeated.


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