While managing Petra, I contracted to have several thousand large posters manufactured in Indianapolis. In order to get them to the band in time for an important Chicago gig, I decided to drive to Indy from Nashville one evening so I could get them early the following morning, then deliver them to Chitown for the merch set-up the following afternoon.
Due to some delays getting out of Tennessee, and then construction slow-downs cutting through Louisville, I ended up in Indiana’s capitol much later than I had intended. I drove around to several motels in the downtown area with “No Vacancy” signs glaring into my bleary eyes.
Finally, while trolling the backstreets and bowels of the warehouse district where the print company was located, I found a Best Western with dozens of eighteen-wheelers parked outside. That was kind of curious, since most long-haul drivers don’t use motels, opting to snooze in the bunks inside their cabs at rest areas and truck stops. But it was a fleeting thought, and sensing fortunate in being able to grab the last remaining room, I settled-in my second floor unit. It was replete with expected sundry cigarette burns, wheezing AC wall unit, stained carpeting, and that funky odor-blend of stale tobacco, B.O., and cheap disinfectant that I have come to expect of flea bag lodges like these over the years. None of this mattered for I was exhausted, and crawled into the concave queen size bed at 1:30 AM, looking forward to five hours of sleep before rising for my 7:30 pick-up time at the manufacturer. I descended into deep R.E.M. sleep within just minutes.
I’m guessing it was about half an hour later when a muffled sequence of screams from several doors down awoke me out of my slumber. At first, I was so disoriented that I wasn’t sure if this was some element of a nightmare that had startled me into consciousness…but within moments, I realized a man was in some sort of pain. I sat up on my elbows, running my hand through my hair, and blinking myself awake as I tried to gather my thoughts. What should I do? This sounds pretty serious. Had someone broken their leg in the shower and was agonizingly trying to crawl across their floor to dial for an ambulance? Were they having an appendicitis attack? The commotion subsided for about a minute, and I began to feel that things were working themselves out.
Suddenly, the shrieks began again. I sat up on the edge of the frayed bedspread, feeling some sort response was in order. Pulling on my jeans and a shirt, I opened the door and peered down the balcony towards the anguish about two addresses away. Another painful yelp convinced me to walk down and see if I could be of assistance. Upon reaching the door, I heard a muffled second voice involved---perhaps it was a wife or girlfriend trying to lift the fallen loved one. I knocked on the door. All activity got quiet for about ten seconds. I knocked again, tentatively asking, “Is everything alright?” and then was reprimanded firmly with a, “Leave us the hell alone! Go away!”
I continued to stand there, breathing-in the thick, nocturnal summer heat mixed with diesel fumes and some unidentified factory stench. Feeling like a doofus, I decided I was not needed, and returned to my room, and hunkered-down under the sheets.
Only a minute had passed when the commotion began again. But it was eclipsed by new agitated howling which began in the room right next to mine on the other side. I could distinctly hear a man being struck by something blunt, and he was grunting and shuddering under the blows. Had I registered into brawl central for the Hoosier State? Were they handing out fightin’ whisky with every room key? More bellowing, and accompanying punches. Once again, I left the bed, this time going to the wall and banging it. “Hey! Keep it down in there, or I’ll call the front desk!”
There was silence for a moment, then more calamity with the accusation, “See what you have brought on us? You will pay for this!” followed with more bashing, and even the sound of a piece of furniture breaking amidst miserable howls.
I grabbed the phone and dialed zero. As the unheeded rings piled one on top of the other, yet another round of storm trooping began in the room immediately above mine! Now there was a trio of imbroglios happening simultaneously, and the upstairs event definitely featured a woman wailing. Finally, on about the fifteenth ring, the phone was answered.
“I’m in room 217 and I want to report some crazy crap going on in 215, 221, and I think in 317 right above me!” I hollered.
There was an awkward pause.
“Do you hear me?” I roared…only to get a perturbed, “Well, you checked into this place, you should’ve known what to expect!” then *click* *bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz*
Incredulous, I slammed the receiver down. “What kind of whacked joint is this?” I mumbled under my breath.
The first group was back in full throat now. The group next door now featured some harsh accusations and crying along with the continued pounding. And then I heard something very strange beginning overhead—the cracking of a whip, along with agitated squeals.
Just as it was beginning to dawn on me that I had checked-in to Licentious Lodge, a fourth oppression began in the room right next to my headboard. This was the most audible of the bunch. More berating language, the sound of flesh being struck repeatedly, followed by a series of ,“Stop! Don’t!....Don’t!.....Stop!.....*shrill scream*….Don’t stop!...Don’t stop! Oh….yes! Don’t stop!!”
I laid back sideways on my bed, pulled the pillow over my face. “I am in a freakin’ S&M mad house!” I lamented to anyone who might hear my plight.
In the cacophony of corporeal punishment going on around me, I decided to call the police. Upon finally getting a grumpy officer on the line, I told him where I was and what was transpiring. Battling to hear him over the auditory agony in surround-sound, I was, once again, to my dismay, told with a disdained chuckle, “Buddy, you should know what that place is all about.”
“Well, isn’t there a slight possibility that amongst all of this torture and woe that just something might be a tad illegal?” I countered.
“As long as they are in their rooms, there ain’t a thing we can do about it. Good night,” and I was dispatched with a hang-up a second time.
I then pulled out the phone book and called every hotel listing for that area I could find. In the midst of distressed squawks during blissful beatings, jubilant genital injuries, rapturous penitent pillaging, and various other deviant delights, I was repeatedly told there was a huge convention at the RCA Dome, and every hotel within 30 miles was booked solid.
I’m no prude, but these aberrations on the bumping of the uglies was a bit more than this Presbyterian pastor’s kid could handle. I mean, I’ve put up with wall mates in apartment complexes banging the gong and vibrating the rafters. I’ve seen (as well as partaken in) rockin’ of the proverbial back seat of a Chevy and steamin’ the windows—but that was just good ol’ coitus between a lovin’couple. What was going on here was oppressive. I felt I had fallen deep into Abaddon’s abyss, hearing the tormented misery of those so self-loathing and shamed that they had given themselves over completely to this libidinous lunacy. For all I knew, there could’ve been a snuff film being produced there that night, that’s how morbid it all sounded.
With the management and law enforcement turning a blind eye, I knew there was little I could do. These folks had given themselves over to their perverted explorations in affliction. Unfortunately, they were impinging on my ability to rest.
For the next hour I attempted to acclimate myself to the strange blend of delirious debauchery surrounding me. A few times I chuckled at the sheer absurdity of it. But mostly, I wavered between prayer and repugnance. I mean, sweet fancy Moses, how screwed up do you have to be--how dissatisfied with your life—to want to suffer through what should be such a caring, pleasure-giving partnership? How can it somehow be euphoric to have your testicles in a clamp? How can it be intoxicating to have your nipples nearly pulled out of their sockets? How are repeated punches to the groin or allowing your pubic hair to be set aflame deemed some sort of hanky-panky hobby? Since when is scorn combined with anal chafing considered an aphrodisiac?
When a fifth escapade began in the room below me, I had reached my fill. I gathered my belongings, walking down the balcony to the stairwell. As I passed each room, I heard some other scatological version of choking, humiliation, and euphoric abasement featuring guys and gals in various combo platters…maybe even some critters thrown-in for good measure. I believe my ears even discerned an invertebrate screeching.
Requests for a refund were summarily dismissed by the night manager. I was too weary to even try and fight it. Besides, there was enough guilt-ridden acrimony going on in that square block to fuel nine levels of Hell—no need for me to add any more.
I shuffled out to my dusty AMC Hornet that was sandwiched between two hulking semi’s. Apparently, this was the main gathering point in Indiana of all sexually frustrated drivers who needed to be scourged or felt obliged to inflict some sexual rage upon someone else. I couldn’t get off that property fast enough.
Locating the warehouse where my pick-up was to take place in a few hours, I pulled into the loading dock and dozed inside the cramped back deck of my hatchback before sunrise. Once it became light, and industry began to lurch into motion, I couldn’t entertain slumber any further. So I found an Awful House and pacified my plight with all twenty-seven essential starches and loads of maple syrup.
As I downed my final flapjack, I began to chuckle about a Steve Martin routine from his Let’s Get Small album. As a naïve comic, he was approached by some sexually “liberated” sickos and asked if he enjoyed S & M. He blurted out, “Why, sure…I LOVE Spaniards and Mexicans, and all Latino peoples.” I bowed my head, feeling an odd mixture of shame and amusement with it all. If I could’ve found a cathedral I think I would’ve gone to a confessional and asked forgiveness for laughing at these poor saps. But I would also plead for some sort of penance to perform to eradicate these raw, warped images from my mind.
Decades have passed, and I can still hear that frenzied freak-fest. One of the men kept yelling out that quaint epithet “Who’s your daddy?!” Whenever I hear it now, I still visualize it as “Hoosier Daddy!”