Dennis Down-Low

Eli Clubbs
Jackson High School
Grade 11

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the “Dennis Down-Low!” My last post about a motel I stayed at brought my blog 50 new readers! So a BIG thank you to any new ‘Down-Lowers’ reading now! This week, I’m staying out at a motel called the ‘Wind-Down’ in Merkel, Missouri! So far, it’s less impressive than the ‘Sleep Inn’ from the previous post, but we’ll see! The next part of this post will be written in an hour or so after I’ve had time to take in the atmosphere 

Dennis Murkwater had been writing his blog for years and had hundreds of posts under his belt. Punctuation had always been the bane of his writing. The cursor flashed imposingly in front of him. He just needed to add an exclamation mark. His posts usually received two more readers on average if he had a joyful tone. He always had to struggle to hold the shift key. It inevitably jammed whenever he needed it most. Though he collected and sold antiques for a living, the shift key always reminded him some things should never be bought secondhand. The key finally crunched down under the pressure of his pinky. He slid his left index finger onto the “1” key, “ — to take in the atmosphere!” With the punctuation complete, he slid his legs out from underneath the cramped desk and clambered out of the stiff wooden chair that had been his writing throne since arriving in Room 27 approximately two hours ago.

His eyes needed a break from the bleak, human-manufactured light radiating from his 10-inch screen. He could find nothing better to do with himself than to pace the confined room. After setting his glasses down on the desk by his chunky gray laptop, he gazed around the room. In all of his travels, Dennis developed a theory that every motel room was shaped like a P. Of course, the floor plan was technically a rectangle. But it always had a bathroom placed in the corner, leaving residents with a “P” worth of living space. Dennis ended up pacing on the line of the P. Tucked into the bottom curve of the P sat a bed covered with an ugly-looking comforter. The tiny wooden desk pressed up next to it completed the outside of the hump and connected to the bottom. The single dingy window rested in the wall to the left of the desk. The window was made to look even more insignificant from the bulky air conditioning unit haphazardly strapped onto it. The window-air-conditioner combo completed the top of the letter-shaped room. The weak gray light that was cast from the window drearily lit the spindly walkway of the room. The light twisted and reflected its way to the door across from the window at the other end of the room. Surprisingly, no television set existed anywhere within the room due to a lack of space. That docked some serious points from the overall review in Dennis’s mind. His readers would be hearing about it, too.

He began to work himself into a sort of flow state of pacing and thinking about his writing. How could he get more readers? When would advertisers reach out to him? How much money could he honestly pull in? This line of thinking terminated once he started to feel the overhead lights begin to beat down on him. A sudden, yet terrible migraine formed against the back of his head. He quickly completed another lap of the room, reaching the window and briefly gazing out into the overwhelming blackness of the night. He swiveled on his back foot, briefly adopting the stance of a power-walker. Once he had paced back toward the light switch by the door, he reached out and shut off the lights in the room while maintaining the rhythm of his movement. In his mind, any disturbance to the beat his feet were keeping would result in disaster. Feeling his way back through the unfamiliar space, he bumped into the bed and flopped onto it face-down. The room began to rumble as he did, causing him to pop his head back up and stare out at the creeping darkness. He searched the room for some sort of sign of what could’ve caused such a sound.

“The air conditioner must have kicked into full gear,” he said to himself quietly. He allowed his eyes to close once again. The warm waves of sleep began to lap at his sides. Despite the bed being stiff and lumpy, the peacefulness of an oncoming nap stood as an oasis from the pain of the migraine growing at the back of his head. As he began to sink into the sea of sleep that flowed all about him, he felt something skitter across his back. Agonizing chills shot down his spine. He involuntarily jerked up and began to probe up and down his back, searching for any form of irregularity. 

He concluded his search after feeling nothing especially out of the ordinary. He chalked it up to old age creeping upon him. Turning 40 hovered above him like a guillotine. He needed to get his back problems checked out. He had filed that down on the list in his head titled “Things I Need After I Can Monetize My Blog” about two months ago. It would happen eventually. It would all fall into place. He just needed to give it enough time. His part-time job of selling discovered antiques became less and less fruitful as the months went on. Merkel had ended up being a profit wasteland. It had been a long shot in the first place. But Dennis was surprised absolutely nobody hunted antiques in the area.

While pondering the end of his antique-selling career, he heard footsteps up and down the hallway. Normally, he’d remain in bed, assuming it was kids getting restless in a cramped motel. But something compelled Dennis regarding the quality of the footfalls. The booming resonance behind the steps made Dennis unconsciously stand up and walk to the doorway. It sounded as if Atlas himself stomped down the hall beyond the door, the weight of the world coming down with each step. How could the floor be able to maintain such a force of nature? Something enchanted him about the rhythm of the steps, the earth-shattering weight behind them, and the way the door shook in the frame from the tremendous force. Dennis’s hand trembled as he reached for the door handle. He knew instinctively whatever roamed behind the door existed as a threat to him. Yet, he was unable to restrain himself from reaching out and discovering what lay beyond it. He grabbed the golden handle that seemed to glitter out at him through the darkness. The door wanted to be opened. The handle was showing him the way. He had to know. He had to know what was beyond the door. His hand seized the glowing orb before him and twisted it with an irresistible spasm of motion. 

The hallway revealed nothing. A quick up-and-down glance by sticking his head out of the frame confirmed this. The hall stood desolate with the lights flickering just like the lights that had been gnawing away at him. The walls were covered with the sickly brown wallpaper, and the floor had been sloppily covered with a thick purple carpet decades ago. Just the brief sight of the light had made his head throb. He retreated from outside the door. He slowly moved it back into place with a creaking protest from the hinges. He looked in the direction of the air conditioner in the blackness of his room, only able to identify it from the streetlights outside the window. The bulky machine stared at him and shook from its force. Dennis stared back in silent trepidation. Maybe it had been struggling to pump cool air into his room. Air conditioning can be loud sometimes. He had never heard an air conditioner boom like that, though. His readers needed to hear about the terrible quality of the air conditioning in the Wind-Down. Especially with all the trouble it had been giving him.  

Walking over to his bed, he reached under the abnormally large lamp that hung over the sides of the insignificant bedside table. He fumbled around until he found the switch against the side of the lamp. After struggling to turn the switch, a dull orange light emitted from under the shade of the lamp. Though dim, Dennis thought it presented a much more comforting aura than the overhead fluorescent lights that beat down upon him mercilessly. Satisfied with the new source of light, he stepped over to his desk and slid down into the wooden chair once again. He’d have to put something into his review about how uncomfortable his chair felt. He smiled to himself. Things weren’t looking good for the Wind-Down if this review came out. Bad reviews always do well on travel blogs … or so he had read from various sources. It wasn’t hard to believe. People loved the negative, even if they didn’t admit to it.

He closed and opened his hands in a stretching motion, the start of his writing ritual. Upon pressing down the power button, he heard the clunky fans inside begin to whir, and he heard the whole laptop rumble and groan from the discomfort of its age. 

“I know. Me too, buddy,” he endearingly said to the laptop. He lifted it and moved it closer to the edge of the desk. The screen finally turned on, and Dennis typed in his password, “graNnyMaY1596.” As it went through the final log-in sequence, he began to compile everything he would need to say into a mental draft. His word processor finally appeared on the screen.

The words that had been left there from his review glitched and appeared in a jumble on the center of the screen, bundling together in a way that looked like a sort of black hole. He stared into a backlit void filled with carefully-selected words. Dennis had never seen this glitch before. He tried hitting undo, redo, tapping on the screen, and then closing and opening the tab. The hole remained, staring back at him from the screen, unchanged. He tried using the backspace to delete everything he had previously written. He could easily just rewrite it. Nothing changed, except the mass of black-gray text began to pulse. Rhythmically, as if it were vital to its survival to keep a steady pace. It seemed to grow on the screen, taunting him. Having enough of this Times New Roman-styled black hole, Dennis closed his laptop. The hole slid out from underneath the laptop and gazed up towards its author. It sat in silence. Dennis sat in silence. He lifted his hands to his face and gently rubbed his eyes. Maybe the void was the sort of floater the eye doctor had told him he could start to expect as he got older. How long had it been since that visit? He really should go back. Another thing to add to his list. Satisfied with his self-diagnosis, he parted his fingers and allowed his eyes to peek back out into the dimly-lit room. The mass of nothing remained exactly where it had been. He blinked and shifted his gaze to the wall next to him. The hole slid up onto the wall and waited. It rested there, ridiculing him.  

Dennis leaped out of his chair and ran to the bathroom to grab a towel to wipe up whatever sort of stain this was. He glanced back in horror to find the hole trailing beside him. He grabbed one of the towels embroidered with WD and jerked his hand up to the wall. He wiped furiously, like windshield wipers fighting against a heavy downpour.  He pressed down hard, convincing himself the hole was just some sort of dream. Or nightmare. He felt as if he was making good progress. He continued wiping until his instincts told him the stain was gone. He removed the towel from the wall. The void remained, unchanged, and goading him. For one terrible moment, he imagined he could see the void growing in size. A terrible force seized him from behind, a sudden spasm of his muscles collapsing forward, and he found himself falling endlessly toward the wall that contained the vast darkness. 

Then, there was nothing. There was nothing at all.

The housekeeper of the motel, a 19-year-old girl named Gene, carted her supplies from inside Room 26 to the hallway outside of Room 27. The door stood in front of her. Jiggling the handle, she found it wouldn’t budge. She knew the entire right side of the hall was meant to be checked out by 11 a.m. She rapped on the door. No response from within. She pounded this time. Nothing stirred in the room. 

She cried out, “Housekeeping!” in the hope of waking the guest within. Gene had always refused to give a guest more than three tries to rouse. She produced a master key from her back pocket and slid it into the dull doorknob with ease. Gene cranked the key to the right, and the mechanism clicked from within. She turned the handle and pushed the door open. The walls of Room 27 groaned and shifted as she entered. Gene had long ago tuned out the groaning within the walls of the motel. The young housekeeper analyzed the room, searching for the guest. Inspection of the bathroom, bed and small closet revealed nothing. She turned to leave the room, but as she turned, something caught her eye. An aging, clunky laptop rested on the desk. Gene moved to the desk and opened the ancient piece of technology. 

The laptop whirred and booted instantly, opening to a webpage “The Dennis Down-Low! With Dennis Murkwater!” Compelled, the housekeeper scrolled through the site. She found it odd that only one post existed on the run-down-looking page. She double-clicked on the post and began to read.

The Perfect 5 Star motel: Why YOU should stay at the Wind-Down!

By: Dennis Murkwater, 7/21/12

Hello everyone and welcome back to the ‘Dennis Down-Low’! My last post about a motel I stayed at brought my blog 50 new readers! So a BIG thank you to any new ‘Down-Lowers’ reading now! This week I’m staying out at a motel called the ‘Wind-Down’ in Merkel, Missouri! So far it’s much more impressive than the ‘Sleep Inn’ from the previous post, I can’t wait to see what all makes it stand out! The next part of this post will be written in an hour or so after I’ve had time to take in the atmosphere!! 

Let me just start with how friendly the staff is here. From the moment I entered I knew that this was a place where I could stay forever just from how welcoming everyone was. The man at the front desk knew my name before I could even say it! He walked me to my room and told me to ask Bernie if there was anything I needed! Bernie was the pinnacle of hospitality, down-lowers. It was a great way to start my stay.

Another great part of the stay was just how comfortable the beds were! There is nothing like plopping down on a comfortable mattress after a long drive! Down-lowers, I’m being honest when I say that this bed is one of the best I’ve ever had! The pillows must have been made out of the most memorable memory foam that there is! Consider my back pain gone! But enough raving on the bed, it pales in comparison to how peaceful the motel is!

This entire post was created in the quiet solitude of Room 27 in the motel. Normally I expect there to be an abundance of noise and annoyance within a motel’s atmosphere. You’ll encounter none of that here! You can wind down from the stresses of life for just a moment in the beautiful, 60-dollar-a-night, atmosphere! 

To summarize my stay here in just one word, it was relieving. If you’re bogged down from the everyday hustle and bustle, take a little excursion to this cozy Colorado motel! You’ll find the much-needed rest that you need! I think I might just have to stay here forever!