I didn't know nothing about Barney.
Background, family, where he lives, nothing.
That was the way the boss wanted it.
The way we wanted it.
No one wants to be traced.
No one wants to be found out.
More importantly was if you had someone out there you cared about.
You didn't want them to be found.
And it has happened before.
Don't think it hasn't.
Its how they would hang on to you.
Force you to work even if you wanted out.
I didn't have no one anymore.
They could only hurt me.
I stopped caring about me a long time ago.
I wonder if Barney had someone.
I didn't dare ask though.
The night manager, about to go off duty, eyed us as we walked in.
One room or two?
One room, two beds.
I hated places like this.
Grime stuck to everything.
As if it had never been cleaned.
I doubt it had.
Stale cigarettes and booze hung heavy in the air.
He gave us the room key.
Dark Indian skin, even darker eyes.
Looked like a dressed up rhinestone cowboy from Nashville.
Obviously he didn't know nothing about the actual cowboys.
Our room was just as grimy.
But that was fine for us.
Don't need much.
Mom and I went on vacation once.
Stayed in a hotel alot like this.
I swam in their over chlorinated pool, my hair tingeing green.
I found out later it wasn't a vacation.
She was looking for my father.
Heard from some of his friends he had been two states over.
We didn't find him.
What are you talking about, he says.
I had been talking out loud without realizing it.
So you ain't got a dad, he says.
Ain't got a mother either if you're keeping count.
I got a kid, he says.
Don't tell me that, Barney, I don't want to know.
Someone needs to know, he says.
In case this is it, he says.
Someone needs to know how much I love my son.
He's about six or seven and white headed.
Just like his mom.
I let her down all the time, he says.
He's talking more and more.
And I don't think I like it.
I know I don't like it.
We ain't allowed to have emotions.
But he was having plenty for both of us.
I closed my eyes, head on the thin polyester comforter.
Maybe I'd fall asleep before I learned too much.