This week's prompt is: "Enter at your own risk" or use a viper's next or use a rock n' roll theme or "Wrecked 'em? Damn near killed'em!" or find a creative use for a Sharpie or use a Shar-pei or "In this case, two plus two equals something rotten in the state of Denmark!" or use a fraternal lodge in your story, such as the Elks or the Knights of Columbus or the Fraternal Order of Water Buffalo.
After the busses had gone, I decided it was time to do a little exploring. I wondered what secrets a primitive little town like Connor's Gorge might be hiding. The only places like this I had ever heard of were sanctuaries for religious fanatics, but thinking back to my drive into town, I did not recall seeing anything resembling a church. I wanted to take my phone so I could document this strange little town with pictures, but considering the electricity situation, decided to leave it behind. As I made my way down the creaking steps, I realized I had not eaten anything since this morning. The low vibrating growl of a small muzzled dog rattled the lining of my stomach as it reminded me I needed to eat.
It was nearing time for the sun to set, but in this deep valley twilight was rapidly giving way to dusk. A light from the restaurant next to the hotel spilled out onto the dirt road. I decided if I am going to muffle the sounds from my stomach, this was my best option. As I opened the door, a tingling sound rang out over my head as a small bell alerted the others of my arrival. It felt like I have suddenly walked on stage. There were only four older men sitting at the wooden bar, but they all turned to stare at me when I walked in. There was no greeting. They simply stared at me for a few seconds and then silently began concentrating on the plates of food in front of them.
A young girl, not a child, but not yet a teenager came out of the door behind the bar. She didn’t say anything either, as both eyes widened and she cocked her head to the side with a puzzled look. She then yelled, "Mom!", and ran back the way she came. I stood awkwardly in the doorway, unsure what to do next. The four men continued to eat, shoveling food in their mouths like they are in a race. A raven haired middle-aged woman entered where the young girl exited. She wore a plain blue cotton dress and wiped her hands on the yellow apron tied tightly at her waist.
"Can I help you?" she asked. It sounded more like a demand than a statement.
"I was hoping to get something to eat," I announced quietly. I had never walked into a restaurant where I felt it was an imposition to ask for food, but that was exactly how I felt at that moment.
"Well, then," she motioneded at one of the four tables lining the wall the diner shared with the hotel, "I guess you better have a seat."
As I sat in the chair at the nearest table, I heard the clink of silver wear against plates. I looked over at the four men at the bar as they all stood in unison, sheepishly said, "Goodnight Grace," and made their way to and out the door. They carefully avoided making eye contact with me as the bell rang, once as they were leaving and once when they were gone. Grace walked over to where I sat, and placed a brown plastic glass on the table. She held two pitchers in her hands.
"Tea, water, or I've got some coffee in the back?" she asked.
"Water is fine," I replied.
"Now, if you're looking for a menu, you ain't gonna find one," she said as she filled the glass from the water pitcher. "I've got six regular customers. I had seven 'till Old Man Mulligan up and died two weeks ago, but that ain't neither here nor there. Anyway, my customers eat whatever I be putting on the table for me and the four youngins. It ain't nothing fancy, but it'll stop the rumblin’ comin’ from your middle. Tonight we got soup beans, ham and cornbread. If that ain't to your liking, I got some bread and peanut butter back there. That's all Lil' Mike seems to want to eat anymore."
"The beans will be just fine, mam." I don't remember the last time I used the word mam, but it seemed appropriate somehow in this setting.
"You can call me Grace," she announced as she turned around, gathered the four empty plates from the bar and made her way to the back.
The restaurant was the same dark, aged wood as the hotel. The tables and chairs all looked hand made. The edges were worn and smoothed from years of use, and the varnish was chipped and scratched away in several places. Unlike the hotel, everything looked clean and well cared for in the dim light of the oil lamps scattered around the room. No artwork hung on any of the walls, but several deer heads and antlers adorned the areal over the bar. Behind the bar, a large mirror covered the wall. It was speckled with the patina of age. I could almost picture the drinking and carousing that went on in this room years ago.
Within a few seconds, Grace returned with a plate piled high with white beans, chunks of ham, and two large squares of cornbread. My mouth filled with saliva at the smell of the steaming hot plate of food.
"How much do I owe you?" I asked.
"I don't rightly know," Grace responded, looking perplexed. "Ain't much use for money in this place. Mr. Connor supplies me with anything I need from the store across the street. All I got to do is keep this place, and feed any of the workers that comes in. I ain't never had no outsiders."
"How long have you been running the place?"
"Oh, let me see, now. . ." she trailed off in thought. ". . .Lil' Mike just turned eight a few weeks ago, and I been running the place since Big Mike got killed in the mines when the baby was just a few weeks old. I guess I've been doing this a little over seven years now."
"And, you've never had anyone stop in you didn't know?" I asked amazed.
"Outsiders hardly ever come to the Gorge," she stated, and then she looked wearily out the window. "Them that do come, don't usually stay long enough to eat nothing. Don't worry 'bout paying nothing tonight. If you’re back tomorrow we will work something out."
Before I could ask anything else, she quickly made her way back to what I assumed was the kitchen. The beans were the best I had ever eaten. The salty ham definitely was not the only seasoning, but I could not put my finger on exactly what was in them. They had a slight smoky taste that I assumed came from a wood burning stove. As I sat and shoveled the beans, ham, and cornbread in my mouth, I saw the young girl once again peeking out from the doorway.
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Michelle," she announced timidly as she sheepishly moved up to behind the bar. "Who are you?"
"Mamma says you're gonna get yourself killed," Michelle announced.
"Why would she say something like that?" I ask, shocked by her bluntness.
"I don't know," she said matter-of-factly. "That's just what I heard her say. It's no big deal. People around here get killed all the time. Daddy got killed. Mamma always says there should be a sign up by the road that says ‘Connor’s Gorge, Enter At Your Own Risk’"
I sit there, still amazed by this young girl's candor, while she looks out the window with the same wariness her mother had in her eyes earlier. Then, apparently bored with our conversation she turns and walks back out of the room.
"Leave your dishes on the bar when you're done," Grace calls from the back.
I finish the food in silence, and do as she instructed. When I leave Grace's place, the little bell seems to echo through the valley. Exploring will have to wait until tomorrow. Used to the glow of electric lights, it seems twice as dark as a normal night. The dark night sky is a patchwork of clouds, and the only light comes from the occasional streaming rays of the Gibbous Moon.
I decided not to use the front door as I snuck into the hotel. Mr. Felts may not be able to climb the stairs, but I did not feel like meeting his shotgun face to face tonight. I'm sure the only reason he hasn't killed me yet is because I am a Connor. I know he blames me for Jeremiah, and for the loss of his leg. I slowly made my way up the steps at the back of the hotel. They had not been maintained over the years, and a few boards were missing here and there. I hoped the balcony that overlooked the overgrown courtyard would not be as treacherous.
Although most of the first floor rooms had occupants it looked like these rooms had not seen anyone for a very long time. One of the doors hung open on one hinge, and it looked like several different animals had been its only tenants in recent years. I just hoped I wouldn't encounter any of its residents tonight. After several minutes of carefully navigating creaking boards and a few holes where planks had rotted or fallen out, I made it to the door which led into the front of the hotel. As I had hoped, it was not locked, and creaked open at my touch. Shit, I said softly. No one could know I was here.
I finally breathed again when I felt the worn carpet beneath my feet and eased the door closed behind me. I crept up to the door in the corner, but as I expected, it was locked. I pulled the key out of my pocket, and said a silent prayer that Mr. Felts had not bothered to change the locks. My brother Colton had stolen one of the master keys back when he was in high school, and he and his friends used to sneak down here all the time. That was back before Mr. Felts took over running the hotel. I can't remember the old man's name that was here back then, but he couldn't hear anything.
The key worked, and I quietly slid inside the room. It was much cooler in here than it had been in the hallway. There was a cool cross breeze coming in from the two open windows on either side of the bed. I carefully closed and locked the door behind me, not yet wanting to wake Dillon as he slept in the bed. Yet again, I removed all of my clothing, letting them fall on the floor just inside the door, and made my way over to the bed. He looked peaceful as he slept. The bedspread lay in a pile beside the bed. In the moonlight I could see the outline of his body underneath the sheet.
I knelt beside the bed, and slowly lifted the edge of the sheet. I froze as he gently stirred, and remained there until I was sure he was still asleep. I quickly took him into my mouth, rolling my tongue into the remaining folds of flesh from his circumcision. He instantly began to harden within me, and I heard him groan as he began coming out of his deep sleep. By the time he was fully awake, and realized what was happening, he was also fully swollen and hard. He threw back the sheet, and looked down at me trying to focus on the person between his legs.
"What are you doing here?" he calmly asked.
I allowed him to fall from my mouth to answer, "If you don't know what I'm doing, then we have a problem."
He laughed a sleepy laugh, rubbed his eyes, and then reached down to grab me under both arms. I was caught off guard by his strength as he easily pulled me up on top of him and pushed his open mouth onto my own. I could taste the sour beginnings of sleep within his mouth, but it was quickly replaced by the sweet saltiness of our tongues activating one another’s glands. He kept our mouths locked together as he rolled us over with him now on top. I could feel his hardness as it pressed against my own, and the warm sticky dampness foretelling things to come. He pushed himself up from me breaking the bond we shared. I felt the night chill as it swept across the flesh he had left bare by his sudden move. He looked down at me, and simply said, "My turn"
I whimpered and moaned as he took me fully within his mouth. I could feel the tight wetness of his throat as it expanded to welcome me inside his hunger. As he pumped his head furiously, tightening and loosening his lips, my back arched as I tried to press myself further within him. I did not want to be tasted, I wanted to be devoured. When it came time for my release, I could control myself no longer. I expected him to fly back from the force of the explosion that had built within me, but he held firm consuming every ounce.
I fell back into the bed, and he sat up looking at me with an amused grin on his face.
"What are you smiling at," I panted.
"You howled," Dillon said laughingly. "I thought I had seen and heard it all, but I've never had anyone howl before."
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