Rating: PG - Gen - Outside POV
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Beta: Thank you Kat! ♥
Summary: Outside POV - A motel maid violates the sanctity of the 'Do Not Disturb' sign.
She never had actually sighted the guests, but she had seen their large black car come and go every night.
Well, she had at least heard the clunky engine during its late night excursions. It was difficult to miss or mistake the junker for anything else. The first night the sound of rumbling cylinders had startled her out of a deep sleep. The second night, the reverberating sound had caught her dozing in the flicker of a late night talk show. Every morning when she woke, she would check to see if the car had returned without her notice sometime during early dawn.
The ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign had been hanging on the knob for seven days straight.
She plugged in the iron and laid her uniform out. Although many of the motel patron’s never saw her, she spent ten minutes every morning carefully pressing the aproned dress. The water steamed as she seared a smooth path in pink polyester.
Living the weekdays in the tiny motel apartment suited her needs for now. There were only a dozen rooms to clean and less than half were in use at any given time. Her children were grown and didn’t need their mother around to tuck them in or make sure no one burned supper. Her husband was gone for days at a time driving freight back and forth across the southern border. Being the only maid in a rundown inn like this one paid much better than the supermercado. Not only did she have a little extra to save at the end of each month, the work entailed very limited contact with customers. Here she could go about her business in blissful peace with only the occasional panicked phone call about a backed up toilet or an urgent request for an ashtray.
Fastening the last ivory button at her neck, she lifted the small crucifix on a thin necklace. The routine prayer that begun her day came out in a soft even voice.
“*Gloria al Padre, al Hijo y al Espíritu Santo.
Como era en el principio, ahora y siempre,
por los siglos de los siglos.
She pressed the warm gold to her lips before dropping it out of sight down the front of the uniform.
Her apartment looked like any other of the motel rooms from the outside. The cramped four walls that provided shelter weren’t as agreeable as her house with its tidy vegetable garden, but it was sufficient. Her chipped plaster angels sat anywhere there was space, her favorites displayed on the clattering air conditioner wedged in the only window. Many other statues bedecked the microwave and a few others fit nicely along the bathroom counters. The flames that wavered in the stained glass votives honored each Saint during the quiet evening hours. Other than her room’s absence of a number decaled under the peephole, no one would ever know there was an employee living in residence 24 hours a day.
Grateful for the ebbing morning rain and the sky’s fleeting clouds, she unlocked the storeroom that kept a utility sink and all of her supplies.
“Buenos Días, senorita!”
From across the lot, a rotund man wearing tube socks with sandals was frantically waving and hurrying up the sidewalk. Rolling out the heavy housekeeping cart, she shut the storage room behind her with a sigh.
“Good morning.” She answered with a nod.
The place occasionally saw tourists that dared venture through less popular recesses of the state. She grimly watched him flip rapidly through a hand sized travel dictionary. Something about the sight of her always seemed to inspire white people to dust off their high school foreign languages.
“My wife and I are down in room #12.” He explained. “Could we bother you for some uh… tocamiento?”
“Towels.” She said. “Yes, sir.”
He smiled uncomfortably one more time before tipping his plaid golfing hat. Waving goodbye, she watched him waddle towards the waiting SUV rental. Automatically returning a wave to his sunburned wife, she let her mind wander to the pressing tasks at hand. It was now time to organize her thoughts and figure out the most proficient manner in which to start her long day. Yet, instead of heading directly to the office for a report, she found herself standing uneasily in front of room #3.
Besides the fact that there were two guests interred for an indeterminate length of time, she knew little else outside of the unreasonable insistence that no one enter their room. If she hadn’t seen the big Chevy with her own two eyes she would have doubted their actual existence. But she knew what kinds of sins were regularly committed in these rooms. Putting a little sign up would not protect a man from the Lord’s Wrath; Nor would it shield him from His Compassion.
The sight of ‘Do Not Disturb’ usually made her happy.
It was one less room to bother with; one less bed to make. But after a few days any respite gradually shifted towards dread. While that sign was in place, any unspeakable acts going on behind closed doors ceased to be her problem. Nonetheless, the days of horrifying neglect would eventually be revealed after checkout. People tended to treat the rented beige Formica and coin operated wash machines badly. She’d seen golf clubs embedded in television sets and broken beer bottles in the showers. She had tossed out more linens than she felt comfortable with trying to save, and spent hours with masks, rubber gloves, and all the bleach a budget could buy.
Clicking her tongue at the warning placard on the doorknob, she decided not to wait. Seven days of unsupervised squalor would culminate in a disaster that even she wouldn’t be able to shovel away. If the guests in room #3 wanted to complain about beautifully made beds and crisp clean sheets, she would pretend she didn’t understand them. She automatically knocked in warning, sliding the master key into the lock at the same time.
“Housekeeping!” She called out.
Knowing she’d get no response, she let herself in. She paused in the stuffy dark to allow the pungent smell to soak in. Her career in maintenance had introduced her to many disturbing scents but some still kept her guessing. Flicking on the lights, she inhaled deeply. The dim yellow lamps cast just enough light to see. With the thick curtains drawn, the sky outside could have been the black of midnight or the dark pink tinge of dawn.
She sniffed the stale air experimentally.
Open books and loose papers lay on the cluttered table by the window. Her fingers ran under the collar of a brown leather jacket draped haphazardly on a stiff folding chair. She resisted finding a hangar and pulling the garment back into shape.
The smoky odor she detected didn’t seem to be that dime store tang of sandalwood or lavender. She had a brief memory of a quiet church when she was a young girl, the robed priest walking down the pews swinging a metal canister wafting with smoldering incienso. Whatever had been burnt in these rooms masked the musty carpets and chemical cleansers abundantly applied to the bathrooms. Passing her hand over her mouth, she swallowed back the sickeningly coy taste on her tongue. It was rank, like overripe lilies left to molder on a funeral mound, its putrid perfume hanging in the still air.
A twinge of apprehension flickered in her stomach as she tugged the cleaning cart inside. Trying to push her misgivings aside, she dismally took stock of the grimy footprints that covered the floors.
However, the overall mess was not as appalling as anticipated.
She had witnessed the guests’ bed-making efforts before. The sight of it irritated her because no one ever did it right. Flipping back the crumpled comforter from the first bed, she blinked in confusion. She had seen quite a few military men in her family return from active duty with new skills. One of the talents was the ability to stuff sheets so firmly into the recesses of a mattress that it would take a wrench to pry them free again. Looking suspiciously at the other bed, she found another version of the same severe technique. Unwilling to undo such meticulous work, she reluctantly compromised, only straightening the flowered bedspreads instead.
Considering what sort of men would perform the staunch procedure when no one would ever inspect it, she also wondered about the obsessive need for privacy. Fanaticism and solitude had never equaled anything of any good in her experience. Taking a deep breath, she was determined to empty the bins, wipe down the cabinets, and then get the heck out of here.
Whipping out a hefty bag, she at least found the trash situation to be exactly what she’d been expecting.
The largest pile was a carefully balanced heap rising in the corner. Hand picking the teetering stack down to a manageable size, she found the typical fragrant remains of food. It was a good thing that it took a lot more than the reek of week old rice and beans to bring on dry heaves. Conversely, the startling contents at the bottom of the bin made her pause. A clump of wadded up towels were dark brown with dried blood. Chucking the stiff cloth into the plastic bag, she uncovered another and another.
Besides the rags, there were containers made of things she’d never seen in the aisle of a Christian owned pharmacy. Some were composed of rough burlap, while others were made of delicately woven needlepoint. The last object in the trash was smooth and yellow. The flask made from animal bone was bizarre, but the lewd etchings that decorated its surface were even more upsetting. She caught the stench of whiskey on its nozzle before dropping it with the rest. An empty bottle of peroxide and a depleted amber bottle of prescription medication completed the odd trash heap. She looked with distrust at the lengthy words on its label.
With a nervous look towards the front door, she quickly moved on.
There was no toothpaste in the sink and no puddles to mop up on the bathroom tile. Mud stained shirts and damp jeans were all flung within the vicinity of the same chair sitting next to the television. She dragged her shoe through strange lines of dirt that was almost hidden by the ochre shag carpeting. Leaning down she touched the gritty stuff and rubbed the sand like consistency between her fingertips. Scowling at the white crystals, she dusted off her hands. It was nothing the industrial vacuum wouldn’t pull up. She was about to consider hauling out the machine when her gaze fell on all the reading material piled on the nightstand between the beds. The requisite phone and clock sat atop the coffee stained surface, accompanied by an object usually delegated to the lonely drawer.
The Biblia was sitting right on top of a stack of week old newspapers.
She cautiously moved towards it.
The bright red plastic disagreed with her traditional sensibilities, but it made it easy to see. The motel would not spring for the faux leather backed kind because of the frequent theft. Picking it up off the table, she immediately knew it wasn’t as heavy as it should have been. Thumbing it open, she gasped in dismay, her trembling hand hovering over her throat.
The book was horribly damaged. Torn neatly from the binding, entire sections of precious verses were missing. Jagged tears left some passages in half. The inside cover was covered in a scribble of hasty pen. Hoping to see familiar quotations from Peter and Paul, she abruptly recognized the scrawl of names and address. Telephone numbers of local pizzerias and Chinese takeout covered the margins as if it was nothing but worthless stationary.
She clutched the holy book to her chest and frowned. Crossing herself, she looked wide eyed around the murky room.
Her wary gaze traveled back to the floor where dark spots of blood trailed towards the closet.
Now that she was paying attention, the white grit all over the rugs wasn’t as carelessly strewn as she thought. The white dust curled in precise shapes. As she followed the path, she discovered it traveled away from the peeling wallpaper in precise half circles. The largest mound of white grit pooled in a broad arc outside the closed closet door. Staring in the dim light, she realized the length of the doorframe had been sealed on its edges with strips of black electrical tape. Leaning closer, she could barely make out the presence of more sloppy handwriting. The illegible ink carved into the crumbling plaster, creeping like ailing ivy up around the closet’s borders.
A housefly suddenly appeared on the closet’s edge.
To her breathless disgust, several more of the insects appeared, squirming out from underneath the bulging tape. As she watched, dozens more of the of bloated black bodies emerged and skittered out over the wall. The choking smell grew stronger as the whine of their sluggish wings attempted to take to the air. A nauseatingly sweet scent of flowers gushed over her face and made bile rise in her throat.
The sealed door shuddered gently against its hinges.
The backs of her knees hit the mattress as she stumbled backwards on to the bed. She kept her eyes locked on the closet and moved slowly away. When she stilled, she could hear another sound underneath her own jagged breathing. A bead of sweat slid down her forehead and ran down along her nose like a tear. There was something heavy sliding up against the uneven surface of the wooden door. It was uncoiling in the dark, stimulated by the sound of her movement close by, wrenching the knob back and forth.
The loud noise of a car engine jerked her gaze fearfully towards the drawn curtains.
Hands feeling for the tables and windowpane, she forced her shaking limbs upright as she staggered to the window. Peering out through the thin crack of daylight, she anxiously searched for the big black car and its owners. Heart pounding, she numbly realized that the rumbling noise was just a concrete mixer idling at the traffic light at the corner.
A dull thud sounded in the sealed closet behind her.
Staring in stunned silence, her hand found the crucifix lying against her chest.
She stumbled against a chair when the door began to shake violently. The framed pastels on either side of the closet fell off their hooks, scattering shards of glass across the floor.
A strong resounding knock started to pound along with the frenzied rattle of wood.
Tossing the defaced bible over her shoulder, she headed for the front door. Her hands shook as she yanked at the latch, shoving past the clattering cart and stumbling out onto the asphalt. Ignoring the bright blue spill of window cleaner, she was ready to leave behind the fallen pile of flawlessly folded bath mats too.
“Hola!” It was the bald tourist with the socks and sandals again. “There you are. Was lookin’ all over!”
Grappling with the locks, she finally got the door shut behind her, the key jamming several times before the bolt slid in.
“Real big problem in #12.” He thoughtfully considered the gum spotted pavement. “Don’t know how that gosh darn shower cap got in the toilet but—“
“I quit.” She told him. “Have a very nice day. Good bye.”
“What?” He blinked at her in shock. “Wh-where are you going-“
He stopped talking when he saw the keychain.
The brass ring in her apron pocket made a lovely chime as she tossed the tangle of keys straight up into the air. A large potted cactus toppled over as he desperately tried to get out of her way. She scurried past him and the wreckage, mumbling every hymn she knew as fast as it would come to her lips.
Bursting into her apartment, she fell down onto her knees and dragged the scuffed suitcase out from under the bed. It would fit every single plaster saint and maybe a few items of clothing. She paused with shaking hands to light the drooping remains of a candle under the serene visage of the Virgin Mary. Crossing herself for the third time in one morning, she took heed of the divine advice no matter how atrocious the means.
She was never violating the sanctity of ‘Do Not Disturb’ again.
*Glory be to the Father and to
the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now
and ever shall be, world without