copyright © 2003 Cory Capron

Tides of Nostalgia (Parts 1 and 2)
A short story written and performed by Cory Capron August 22, 2003

Kevin woke up to damp, inky red, cold sweating in a meat locker motel room. A 
crisp white light from the partly opened door of the bathroom gave the scene 
a gray, underwater-soot hue. The city nightlife whispered in through the salt 
gnawed frame of the window. The sound of a faucet pouring into its bath came 
into reception. Kevin turned to see Meela getting in the tub. He stared for a 
moment taking in the fragments of her body that the door revealed, so very 
alien now without her elaborate garbs. Responsive thoughts did not seem to 
manifest in his mind; he simply let all information seep into his senses. He 
turned back to the window and the sounds of cars like spacey tide waves, and 
the muffled shouting of people in the street below. As he moved to get up his 
skin was pricked and scratched by a pack of bloodthirsty toenail clippings. 
Ghost voices of memory crawled under the skin of the walls... giggling and 
laughter obscured talk. Last time he'd let her do that again, he thought. The 
smell of nail polish still faint in the air, but overpowered by something 
more pungent and supermarket like. The blanket over him was surprisingly 
heavy with a coarse oiled imitation leather feeling against his skin. The 
upper side of the blanket was different though. It was moist like the fleshy 
wall of a pumpkin, leaving cool afterbirth-like syrup on his hands and arms. 
He could feel it in-between his fingers and it was the source of that thick 
adrenalin-drenched smell in the room. Still he did not seem to give it any 
thought, only the initial surprise. 
He pulled himself the rest of the way out of the bed through the nail 
clipping teeth and strange blanket lip. His legs wanted to collapse under 
him, but he sunk his toes into the carpet and grabbed the post of the bed for 
balance. He noticed that his toes didn't grab the carpet as well now that 
they were manicured. He stood for a moment gathering his balance feeling the 
cold wet breeze of the air conditioner wrapping around his limbs, making 
goose bumps rise all over his body. He found his pants on the floor with his 
foot and picked them up. He was still wearing his Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned 
and it was soaked with sweat and perhaps the strange syrup from the bed. He 
could feel his fingers starting to stick together as it dried in the open 
He walked over to the window, moving the blinds aside to see the choir of the 
midnight sounds. The sky was a chocolate orange color from the city lights. 
He became lost in the sound of the air conditioner below him, it's deep groan 
clothed in the hiss of a cobra from some film he saw as a child. An empty 
feeling started to come over him. His whole body kind of sunk inside it's 
self. The thought that brought it on had not really come to him but sort of 
sounded it's approach; he would have to give it his attention soon. 
The night was too alive and he didn't feel like going back to bed. He was 
thirsty. He put on his pants and walked over to the door to leave. He heard 
the sound of Meela's limbs moving in the still bath water. She had probably 
just realized he was awake. He opened the door, grabbed his keycard off the 
little table (the one with no other purpose but to hold brochures for 
tourists) and stepped out. It occurred to Kevin that he ought to say 
something before going out, but as he stood there frozen, looking over his 
shoulder at the bathroom door, there was nothing.
Kevin leaned for a moment over the railing. The air outside was much warmer, 
like the embrace of someone dear. Only a couple blocks away, the song of the 
ocean was a barely audible whisper. He looked down at the illuminated 
swimming pool, blue as a happy ending's sky. A heavy sigh from deep inside of 
him released as he gave in to that long approaching thought: what was he 
doing here? The question had been waiting for a long time to be asked. The 
motives for coming out to the coast now seemed so little. It was the spurt of 
the moment idea of an eccentric, drunk then but now brutally sober.
The palm trees swayed with the wind like fourteen-foot-tall anorexic 
Rastafarians who had spent too much time in the swimming pool. Down by the 
street a group of young tourists walked along the outside of the chain-link 
fence, laughing and howling intoxicated into the darkness out of view. They 
reminded him so much of how he once was, of his friends and their antics. Was 
it only a month ago or a thousand years?  All his memories seemed so old now, 
whole lifetimes in little moments.
	Kevin turned the corner at a sleepy staggering pace into the laundry 
room. The laundry machines were running but there was nobody there. The bare 
linoleum floor was cool under his feet, but the lights were harsh on his 
eyes. Moths and small insects flew around them - banging against them, trying 
to get into the light. He leaned his forehead against the vending machine 
with his eyes closed. He inserted the coin and made his selection without 
looking. The sound of the quarter trickling down the throat of the machine 
was like water and clockwork, the scurrying of a metal insect into a 
bottomless wishing well, but the sound of the falling can did not come. Kevin 
opened his eyes and saw only the color red of the vending machine's image, 
displaying the very same kind of soda that it denied him. He closed his eyes 
again and hammered his fist, then kicked the machine once, then again and 
again, faster until he heard the sound of the surrendering can fall into the 
dispensing basket. Pulling out the can, he sat down with his back against one 
of the drying machines.
The sound of the can opening was like eggs cracked over his mother's frying 
pan. She always did make great scrambled eggs. He rubbed his belly. The sun 
would be up in an hour he figured. Maybe there's somewhere around here where 
they could get a decent breakfast. Meela was talking about how she could 
really go for some pancakes. He took a gulp of his soda. The cold sweet fluid 
poured into his empty body, bubbling and easing his weariness. Perhaps it was 
good that he came out here. After all, something had changed in him. He was 
not one of those raving tourists looking for a good time, his friends had all 
moved on South to new, different, same old things. Why had he and Meela 
stayed behind? What did she mean to him? Rapid-fire images projected on the 
inside of his eyelids, images of her laugh, her smile, two hundred and twenty-
six subtle expressions of her face, the fragments of her body in the half 
opened bathroom door, and her skin, so pale when they left home, now a copper 
bronze tan. There seemed to be a void in his consciousness, a dark age in his 
memory. Something that felt like a guess, but had to be the wrong answer. He 
felt so lost. His skull vibrated with the rolling thunder of the machines, 
and his skin crawled as it felt the electric buzz in the air, coming from all 
the appliances like a hummingbird's heartbeat. It was time to go home. 
Whatever he had come out here looking for he had found, but as long as he 
stayed, it would be like some invisible parrot on his shoulder. God he missed 

Part 2

Kevin took another gulp of his soda, but spat it out immediately. It was hot 
and horribly stale. He raised the can and looked at it with shock, but his 
attention was quickly ripped away to another disturbance... his hands. The 
buzzing and the thunder of the machines faded to silence as he dropped the 
can. His empty palm like a vacuum pulled his vision in till he saw nothing 
else. The sticky syrup was a deep rusty red where it had dried. On his palm 
there was an imprint of the can. The can, pouring out on the floor, had the 
print of his palm... printed in blood. He started breathing with increasing 
pace as he looked down his arms and on to his shirt, all soaked in it. Blood. 
He scrambled to his feet. He couldn't really think, but Meela... he had to... 
Slipping on the many empty cans scattered across the littered floor, he 
caught himself on the pried open door of the vending machine. Still, he ended 
up falling. Grabbing the railing he pulled himself up. He could see in the 
spaces between the buildings, that a cutthroat dawn was rising. The chipping 
white walls of the motel were tinged with peach and grapefruit. The palm 
trees had been cut down and the swimming pool was empty. It looked like 
someone had built a fire in the center of the pool, but he kept moving before 
he could confirm. He had to get back to Meela. He scurried to the door of 
their room, his curling toenails snagging on the hallway carpet. He opened 
the door, only it wasn't their room! It couldn't have been! It was hot and 
horribly musky with that smell... The walls were yellowed and greasy. The very 
air seemed a thick yellow, like a fog of puss. Through the blinds, the white-
hot sun crept into the room and onto the bed. A sound came out of Kevin, 
muted by horror. The blanket on the bed was the recently skinned hide of some 
large animal, a whale or shark perhaps. Little pools of blood had collected 
in the winkles where he had gotten out of the bed. Slabs of meat hung from 
the ceiling fan. Flies were everywhere. Kevin was afraid to even enter the 
room. He was so afraid for Meela. What had happed here? How did everything 
change? Did he fall asleep, and for how long? He called out for Meela and 
didn't recognize his own voice. It was the yelping dog cry of an old man. His 
hands were spidery with liver spots and wrinkles, not the hands of a young 
man. What had happened to him? Where was Meela? What was going on? 
Overwhelmed and confused by it all, he collapsed into tears in the doorway.
Just then, did a minute or an hour pass? He was curled in a ball trembling 
when he heard a ripping-metal parrot voice call out his name from the 
bathroom. He looked up from his knees and saw an elderly woman approaching 
him. There were large black rings around her eyes and he didn't want to know 
if her lips were that color red from lipstick or not. She wore a butcher's 
apron stained with blood, her hair was gray and white and made her look like 
some crazed transsexual Albert Einstein. He was already crawling backwards 
away from her before he even saw the large stained knife in her hand. He 
wanted to scream, but all that came out of his throat was the gasps of pearl 
divers, followed by a kind of whimpering as he receded to a childlike state 
of complete helplessness.
"Kevin, what's wrong?" she said with a suddenly worried look on her crazed 
	"Ga-ga-ga... geah... get... away from meeeee!" he screamed wildly as he 
turned onto his feet and tried to run, but his legs seemed to fail him and he 
tumbled back to the ground. His body weak and frail hit the ground like he'd 
fallen from two or three stories. He tried to get back up, but he couldn't. 
He turned to see her coming quickly towards him. His eyes closed, arms over 
his face, he winced expecting to feel the knife thrust into his side as she 
came down over him. Instead he heard it drop beside him as her hands grasp 
his arms, pulling them from his face.
	"Kevin! Kevin, are you ok? Stop it now, stop it!" she said as he 
flailed his arms pitifully trying to swat her away. "What's wrong honey? What 
happened? Calm down will you!"
	He looked up at her then and asked, "Where is Meela? Where is she? 
What have you done with Meela?" She looked at him, shocked and confused by 
his question. Her grip on his arms loosened and he pulled himself back 
against the wall. She seemed frozen over where he had been. There was a look 
of hurt on the old woman's face. Her eyes seemed impossibly large as she 
seemed to look around trying to think of what to do. Kevin noticed in that 
moment that he could hear the ocean; it's song now so very clear in the 
silence of the city. His head started to clear a bit as he listed to the 
waves. He couldn't quite control the reptilian fear that surged through his 
body, but he was able to realize that the woman didn't mean him harm. His 
breathing began to slow down into deeper, more controlled breaths. Though his 
eyes hadn't really left her, his consciousness turned back to her. 
	"Who are you?" he asked at last.
	Her head tilted as her eyes half closed in a look of sad, sympathetic 
horror. Almost in a whisper, she told him, "Honey, it's me... don't you... I'm 
He wanted so badly not to believe it, but somehow as she spoke, and he 
listened to the waves and he looked at her face... he realized it was the 
truth. His mind screamed out "no" a thousand times in one minute, but he knew 
it was. His face contorted in towards his nose as he began to cry again. 
Meela wrapped her arms around him.
	"There, there now. Let's get you to bed, ok? It's just another 
episode you're having."
Meela helped him to his feet and they walked back into the motel room. 
	"We'll tend to this later" she assured him, as she moved the dripping 
hide and some tools that were lying on top of it off of the bed. Kevin 
crawled into the sheets and found a great sense of ease.
	"There you go!" she said with a piranha's smile. "Now you just lay 
there and get some rest before you give us both a heart attack!" She tried to 
sound cheery, but it wasn't coming out right. There was a heavy burden on her 
that she simply couldn't hide. She held his hand for a moment as his eyes 
darted around the room.
	"Don't you leave me yet, you crazy old fool." She said with a teary 
shudder. "Stay with me, ok?"
	Kevin had heard those words from her before, that night when the 
others moved on. There was a fight or something, his mind was all in a mess, 
but he remembered those words: "stay with me, ok?" 
	He looked up at her with a child's eyes. "Can we go see the ocean?"
	She smiled at him with tears on her cheeks. "Sure, but let's wait 
till the sun goes down. You really shouldn't go out in the sun. Ok?"
	"Ok." He agreed, pulling the sheet up to his chin.
	Meela got up and went to the other room to finish preparing the meat 
for the evening. Her walk like that of some broken wind-up toy. The door half 
closed behind her.
Kevin's peace didn't hold as he closed his eyes though. His mind, refusing to 
let go, seemed to collapse trying to take it all in. The reptilian fear 
crawled with needled fingers up his legs and back into his body. He panicked. 
Where was he? Where's Meela and the gang? What was that smell? 
God he missed home.

I didn't originally plan on this being in two parts; it was just too long not to. It really was blind stinking luck that the major transition in the story was right smack in the middle. I wrote this over two nights and I think it was one of the most fun things to write that I've ever done. I just decided I was going to write something really dark and cracked out... to try and make it have as many layers as those crazy brownies my mom makes for Christmas.

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