This story takes place at a Quality Inn somewhere in North Carolina, a few miles north of South of the Border...
"We only have one more two-bed and it's on the second floor," said the tired-looking woman behind the counter. "You don't mind, do you? Who knows, maybe you'll like it here so much, you'll stay another night!"
"Thank you," I replied, and tapped Corb on his arm with the key card she handed me. One look at the slightly nauseous expression on his face and I knew that another night was out of the question.
"Why don't we take a look at the room first?" I whispered, as we started to exit. "That way you can get all of your comments out of the way before we bring the kids upstairs."
Corb nodded grimly, looking as if this hotel was scarier than any of the roller coasters at Universal. "Look, we're going to leave early in the morning, right?"
"We might be leaving at five," he said, as we started up the stairs to the second floor, and a faint smell of urine assailed my nostrils. "And I might be sleeping in the bathroom. Bedbugs don't like bathtubs. Oh, by the way, if this place has those old form-fitted comforters on the beds, that's it, I'm--"
We opened up the room with the key card and turned on the light. It flickered a bit, wobbling every every few seconds. Sure enough, form fitted comforters on the beds, only these were so faded they must have been from the eighties.
"You can check for bedbugs if you'd like," I said, knowing this had just made things worse.
Corb moved over to a bed and touched the headboard, tempted. Then, he pulled away and recoiled in horror. "No, no, that's okay. Let's just get this over with."
Decided, we exited the room, gathered up our luggage from the car, and brought the kids up. Corb would only take his clothes, refusing to bring his suitcase into the room. That bedbug thing, again.
The moment we got into the room, Corb grabbed the comforters on top of the bed and threw it into a corner. "I will only sleep on the top sheet," he announced.
I glanced over at Theo and Ashes, who seemed more amused with Corb than anything. "Okay, Ashes, you and I will have the other bed," I said. "I can pull off the comforter, if you'd like."
Ashes yawned and moved over to our bed, patting the pillow in front of her. "Sure, whatever..." she said, then stopped for a minute. "What's this?"
She reached under her pillow. "It's an empty Tic Tac case."
"If you think that's bad," said Theo, on his side of the other bed. "I'm looking down at a pile of toenail clippings." Oh. Ugh.
"Oh God..." said Corb, heading away from us."I'm checking out that bathtub..."
Ashes sat on the side of the bed, wiggling her toes. "Daddy, would you check all the drawers?" she asked. "I'm getting a little creeped out."
"Sure, honey," I said, desperate to please, and getting an increasingly bad feeling about things. "Let's go through them all, okay?" I opened a randon drawer in the dresser in front of me. "See, nothing in here..."
Theo ran over to the night stand between the beds and opened the top drawer. "Only a Bible and phone book here..." He grabbed the Bible. "Oh, look! There's a love letter in the Bible."
Ashes lifted up the phone book. "And inside this there's a..." She pulled back the cover. Something fell to the floor. "Ummm...Dad?"
I closed the drawer in front of me and moved over to her. "What the...?" And then, calling out to the bathroom. "Corb!"
"So, the empty Tic Tac container we were going to put up with, and even the toenail clippings," I said to the older man behind the counter (evidently the tired looking woman had gone to take a nap.) "But I kind of have to draw the line at this!"
I placed the rusty straight-edge razor onto the counter.
The old man grimaced. "Boy is the owner going to blow a gasket when he sees that tomorrow."
"Of course, sir. I'll reverse the charges."
"Terribly sorry, sir. We never have things like that happen here. We take great pride in having a clean establishment."
"Triple A endorsed," I said, looking outside and thinking, "Guess that doesn't mean much..."
A grin flickered on the old man's face. "Of course, I have seen some things. One time, someone came down because they sat down on the desk chair and a hypodermic needle fell onto the floor. We went up and took care of that, and then, half an hour later, they called downstairs again because another one fell out. I went up, checked the chair, and turns out, the chair was full of them! Can you believe it? The guy who had been there for two weeks before had been hiding needles in the chair!"
I shook my head, not exactly sure how to respond.
"Another time a customer called down because they found a starter pistol under their pillow," continued the old man, really warming up to his subject. "And another time, one of the housemaids discovered a briefcase with $15,000 in cash in it!"
"I'll take that over a straight edged razor," said Corb.
Conclusion: that night was spent at the Country Inn. A bit more expensive, but the guy at the front desk let us check out the room beforehand. Comfortable beds, nice clean room. Breakfast in the morning. No razor blades!