The years have since passed like the miles between our continents. I’d been standing in front of that dirty hot tub staring up to the setting sun from a smog ridden Los Angeles sky. I unrolled my towel and took and opened one of the cans of beer that I’d slipped from my old man. Beyond the crisscross metal fencing and parked cars, I could see the top of a corner shop, some neighbourhood houses, as I reread the sign at the front of our motel:
ADULT CHANNELS &
Suddenly, bubbles began to rise slowly from the hot tub, which looked like an illuminated abyss. After some reluctance, the motel owner had finally turned it on – the first time I’d seen him, he’d been standing beside the tub, net in hand, looking a little like he was bass fishing, as he hooked out some condoms. Something I tried not to think about. But soon the tub would attract another; Amy.
At that point my dad, whom was also staying in the motel, was pissed with me. I knew that if my dad found out about the beer his mood wouldn’t shift. Although he’d only hit me a handful of times, I knew that I was coming close then. So I tried to stay hidden in the tub, placed behind a parting of red-bricked wall – presumably there so nobody backed their cars into a bather and turned the water red.
I looked up to see a girl in a bikini testing the water with her toe as she slowly eased herself in. She was a brunette with hazel eyes, small lips with a burn scar that ran from her hip to just under her armpit. For some inexplicable reason she looked too sheltered to have experienced anything like scar tissue. But it was one of the most interesting parts of her, if not the most. I wasn’t a lot to look at, nor was I particularly suave and I’d happily sit in silence, but somehow I didn’t like the idea of silence right then, so I sparked conversation. Her name was Amy, she was a year older than me, a part-time waitress from Oregon and was staying in the motel with a friend, who was out seeing family. I handed her the other beer and I hadn’t expected it, but she decided to exchange scar stories – the one that scored her rib was from a house fire. It had changed her outlook – talking of it seemed to liberate her some. She asked me about the gash across the my own rib, I’d got it running through a glass door years back – but that of course was another story. She then noticed me looking at her scar, “touch it, it feels different,” she said. I moved over and slid my hand over the scar tissue, she was right, it was a different texture to mine.
We drained the beers and she asked if I wanted to go to her room for some Pepsi, I wanted beer but that was that.
We were still dripping from the tub, as we got there. Chucking my towel underneath, I sat on the bed. Amy turned from the fridge and sat next to me, as I told a bad joke. “Who are you?” She muttered, grinning, but at the same time I knew that anything from this random encounter was soon going to be lost and neither of us would ever really know. She grabbed my balls and I thought she might rip them off. I slid my hands up her torso and kissed her, as a glass rolled off the bedside table, still intact. There was lust coursing through our veins, but her heart was good. With raging teenage hormones the garments fell onto the floor, as our bodies stuck together, still moist from the dirty water. I watched as she jumped across and undid her hair, as it parted beside her chest, closing her eyes, she looked beautiful and free. She bit my ear and it was over almost as quick as it had begun.
I was happy, maybe in love. We lay there, then just as quickly, Amy’s phone rang. She reached across and pulled the bottom half of her bikini up her legs. “Afan, my friend’s coming back,” Amy said. I got the feeling that she wanted me to leave. As I got up I managed to step on a glass and cut my foot, leaving a gash across it. By the next day a Mexican couple had moved into her room.
Years on I was asked how I got that scar on my foot. I said I’d forgotten, but Amy I hadn’t.
Gwil James Thomas is the author of the novel Captains of Sinking Ships and a forthcoming short story collection, Halfway to Nowhere – due to be published in Greece. After having three forwarding addresses in different towns and countries last year, he has ended up in London, England, but isn’t sure for how long.