I'm sitting on the lone bench in this 8x8 room walled in white cushions. They say that a blind or deaf person adapts to the loss of one of their senses by compensating with more focus and accuity with the senses remaining. I don't know how I know that. I don't even remember my name... Geranium?.. Geranimo?.. Gerard? What I do know is that I can't feel my fingers. My arms have been pulled across my body in a self-hug and these oversized white sleeves are fastened somehow in the back. I hid the pills from that dixie cup under my tongue and spit them out after the large, tattooed nurse left. Sometimes she forgets to check. I can feel my senses returning now... those... horrible memories like worms eating my brain... They're back. I find my red crayon under the bunk. The one I stole from the crafts room the other day. I pick it up with my mouth. I move to the far corner, drop to my knees. Put crayon to flooring and I hum that eerie tune cycling nonstop in my head and begin to document this story.
On a dark desert highway
Cool wind in my hair
Whoever coined the phrase, "You can never go back," must have stayed at this condominium. That had been my intention when planning an overnight trip to visit family in the wealthy district in the city of Grand Rapids. But with everything from The Amway Grand to area Motel 6's booked to capacity, our sights were once again turned dejectedly from the bright, vibrant lights of GR to the darkened underbelly and seedier outskirts of Shag town in Caledonia.
Up ahead in the distance
I saw a shimmering light
My email spam folder was filled with pleadings from this proprietor insisting that he had rectified the areas of complaint from our last stay, even offering steep discounts, with "expensive $5 downtown parking included" if I picked up the proprietor and his wife's expensive dinner & bar tab". "Won't you please consider giving the Caledonia Daydreamin another try?" I should have deleted these emails and went instead with that Nigerian Prince fellas multiple offers of laundering his hefty inheritance. I believe it would have been a less risky option.
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
Nonetheless, I was ultimately drawn in by the proprietor's promise of our trip experience starting with lunch at Founders Brewery, an establishment that has been on my bucket list of musts. I envisioned our host having rented one of those fun looking beer pub cruisers to take us to our reservation at Founders upon our arrival, loading and sitting at the pub cruiser bar stools, drinking, laughing, clapping and singing while being transported to the restaurant...
And I was thinkin' to myself
'This could be heaven or this could be hell
Instead, when we arrived at the proprietor's establishment, he and his wife jumped into our back seat and I was told to drive. Upon arrival we noticed a long line of masked hipsters on the walkway at the entrance. I was told to 'circle the block' repeatedly while the proprietor's wife tried unsuccessful in securing a table. I was deeply disappointed having my dreams of dining at Founders dashed once again, but the proprietor did find a forgettable alternative. It might have been the drivethru at Popeye's Chicken washed down with a bottle of Ripple from 711, I really don't remember now...
Then she lit up a candle
And she showed me the way
When we returned to the proprietor's tenement, he stated matter-of-factly that I should remove any valuables from my 2014 Traverse, as it would likely be ransacked during the night. "Those flashy vehicles in these parts are like magnets," he said.
There were voices down the corridor
I thought I heard them say
We were then promised a high-end nightcap in the common room and entertainment via a large screen TV with 4k. What I wasn't told was that the sound emanating from the TV sounded like it been piped in directly from the bottom of Buffalo Bill's well in the movie Silence of the Lambs. The proprietor bowed several times as he rushed around unplugging and plugging in cables in the router and soundbar, explaining that the geek squad gave him quite the deal on this open-boxed beauty.
Welcome to the Condo Caledonia
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
I decided to call it a night before the proprietor sprung another leak. I knew he was "accident-prone" and had been since childhood, when he would come home sporting a new contusion from a neighbor's porch post or another broken brittle bone when trying sports with the boys. Heck, he had already required an emergency band aid from his wife earlier in the day, and who's purse seemed to hold all manner of emergency medical supplies, medications, bandages and tourniquets.
Plenty of room at the Condo Caledonia
Any time of year (any time of year) You can find it here
I'd like to say that at least I had a peaceful night's sleep after having suffered these travesties. I'd like to say that, but as I pulled the covers over my weary body, I noticed my every move was being watched by Woody, Jessie and Mickey Mouse, who seemed to be placed between the two Toy Story dolls as some sort of macabre chaperone on a far chair in the corner of the room. I stifled a scream, not wanting the proprietor to have that "win". At least it was quiet as a tomb, as that clock that had tormented me the previous stay had it's chimes neutered. "So quiet I would be able to hear the dolls make a move," I thought. But just in case, I lay awake the rest of the night watching these dolls unblinkingly watching me.
And still those voices are calling from far away
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say...
I got up around 5:30 the next morning and decided to read in the proprietor's impressive and cozy library. I curled up and with legs overhanging on the small bamboo couch, I inadvertently knocked over a full glass of water that had been set precariously on the floor and out of sight next to one of the back bamboo legs. "Why would he boobytrap his own place?," I thought, as I mopped up the water with paper towels. He wouldn't set a crude water IED so he could try pinning an upcharge on me, would he?
Mirrors on the ceiling
The pink champagne on ice
It was then I noticed the wall clock in this library as it began to chime. It was 6am now, as the clock worked thru it's preamble of chimes... Doo, doo, doo doo.... Doo, doo, doo, dooo. Doo, doo, doo doo.... Doo, doo, doo, dooo.... While I continued to read from my book, the lizard part of my brain was listening very intently to this clock. *GONG*.... *GONG*... (silence)... Wha?! Why did it stop at 2 gongs? Clearly it was 6AM! I verified as much with my phone... Am I in some kind of space-time warp, and could that explain the strange occurences here? I sat there shivering, while keeping one eye on the darkened corrider so I would see any dolls attempt to surreptitiously round the corner. Before I knew it, an hour had passed. It was now 7AM and the wall clock began it's bizarre cycle once again. And then, *GONG*.... *GONG*... *GONG*. "At least there is something to say for consistency," I thought, as I sat there quietly sobbing.
And in the master's chambers
They gathered for the feast
It wasn't long before I was joined by my wife (had she also been sobbing?) as well as the proprietor and his wife. I will say that she put a wonderful breakfast of eggs, sausage & potatoes, toasts and jams in front of us. I reluctantly shared my story of the haunted clock, fearing they would think me mad. It was explained to me that the clock was a retirement gift from the proprietor's previous employer. I knew he had worked at GM doing something or other, so I figured the clock was just trying to recover some of the time lost from the numerous 7-day weekends and bi-monthly, month-long shutdowns the proprietor enjoyed during his yet-understood career.
They stab it with their steely knives
But they just can't kill the beast
I began to hope that the madness was now behind us, and even answered to the affirmative when asked by the proprietor if I wanted coffee. I chuckled to myself, thinking about the scene from Vacation, when cousin Eddie asked Clark whether he could use a nice cold one... the warm fuzzy feelings lasted until the proprietor pulled out a coffee percolator from his cupboard. It was rusty and dented, and appeared to be from the late 1800s. "Why wouldn't he use an automatic drip," I thought. I immediately felt like Jack, from the movie The Shining, when he encountered all of the ghosts of previous staff of the Overlook hotel. It was then I glanced out the window and let out a blood-curdling scream. For, hanging from the branches of a nearby tree was a teapot amongst various bird houses. And were those dinner plates and silverware hanging from other branches? I had no doubt if I looked hard enough, I would see a BUNN coffee maker hung from a far-off branch like some twisted modern day appliance lynching!
Last thing I remember
I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
As I exited the door and sprinted toward my vehicle, I stopped and dropped - for like Marty and Doc Brown watching an earlier version of themselves in that parking lot from the movie Back to the Future - I watched in horror an earlier version of my wife and I pulling into the parking space from the day before!
"Relax", said the proprietor
"We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave"