A to V: Vacancy

Warning–slight adult content, nothing graphic. PG-13 at most.


Michael McClane didn’t know where to go, so he just sat in his driveway, his truck running but not moving. He wanted his parents, but he couldn’t go home with bad news, not with his father as sick as he was.

“I could go,” Michael said to the empty truck. “And just pretend I’m there to visit Dad. Mom would understand.”

Well, sure, but he didn’t want his mother knowing, either. He was the success of the family, the one who went to college, the one who married his beautiful girlfriend and moved to the city, the one with the job that paid a lot of money and didn’t require calloused hands. He wanted his parents to remain proud and unworried, even if his life was worrisome and nothing to be proud of.

Is this because he wanted kids? Was that so strange to want, eight years into a marriage?

The front door of their building opened, and there was Bonnie, avoiding looking at his truck and running to the corner where she called for taxis. She wore black pants and a brown jacket. She moved so delicately, walking toe-first. One arm was raised in the misty twilight and a taxi stopped for her.

“I could stay,” Michael said, but it was the last thing he wanted to do. He didn’t care if his entire wardrobe, computer, and life was in that apartment; he was never going in there again.

Not here, not home. Where, then? Michael took out his phone. So many of his friends were mutual friends of his and Bonnie’s. He wasn’t ready for them to know. No, not a coworker. No, no, definitely not Bonnie’s family. No.

Sue Anne. Sue Anne? Last he heard, Sue Anne was in Massachusetts. Not too far from New York; he could probably make it there by midnight. Michael McClane needed a place to stay. He put the car in drive.


Bonnie stopped the taxi at the motel about two miles from her house. She, too, didn’t want to go back to the apartment. The sign above the hotel blinked “VACANCY” in neon blue. She went inside, and asked for the Wu room.

“Right away, Mrs. Wu,” said the woman at the desk. Bonnie wrinkled her nose but didn’t correct her. It didn’t matter, anyway.

Craig was already in the room, watching television under the covers. He smiled halfway when she came in. She shut the door and sat beside him in the bed. He was silent. They sat still for a moment.

“Oh, Craig,” she said and burst into tears. Craig held her until she said something unintelligible, garbled by her tears, and shrugged him off. She wailed into a pillow, and Craig looked at his blanket-covered toes, unsure how to comfort her without a hug. Eventually he got her a glass of water and a bit of toilet paper to use as a tissue.

After awhile, Bonnie laid down and asked Craig to hold her, which he did. He nestled his body behind her shaking frame and held her firmly, inhaling her scent, certain it was the last time he’d be able to be with her like this. Their bodies glowed under the flashing neon sign and the muted television.

“I’m sorry,” Craig said.

“For what?”

It flashed in both their memories—Michael shouting, “What the hell is this?” and dropping his keys on the floor.

Craig and Bonnie were always very careful. Michael was supposed to be out of the house for a week, but he came home early. A surprise, for his loving wife.

Of course, it was just about the worst time for him to come home. Craig and Bonnie had been sleeping with each other for months already, starting just a couple years after Michelle’s death and just two weeks after Craig landed his dream job on Broadway. He had burst into Bonnie’s life with a smile full of nostalgic optimism, and Bonnie couldn’t resist. Her life had become beige, an endless cycle of a boring job in the day and making up excuses to not sleep with Michael at night. She still loved Michael, yes. But here came Craig, everything she ever wanted, and yes, she loved him too.

Anyhow, they had been together countless times by then. That night though, last night, Bonnie asked for the one thing Michael wouldn’t do.

“Nothing too painful,” she said before Craig could react to her request. “Just…a little. I mean, we can use scarves or something.”

“Anything you want, Bonnie,” Craig said, kissing her nose, laughing. “We can try it, anyway, see how it goes.”

And so, at Bonnie’s request, Craig tied her arms and legs to her bed with scarves. They would save the blindfold for another time, they decided. Baby steps.

He kissed her lightly, and as he became more comfortable he began to find her restrictions enticing. He could tease her, he could reach every part of her, he was free to do as he pleased. And Bonnie wanted this! Craig felt happy, hungry for her. Craig kissed her more, his mind groggy.

The bedroom door slammed open.

Then Michael roared at them, frozen in the doorway. Craig turned his head and only saw Michael coming right for him. Craig’s veins flooded with adrenaline; he leapt off the bed.

“What the hell are you doing to her?” Michael paced to the foot of the bed, shoulders hunched and rolling like a tiger. His large hands were in fists.

“Michael, wait,” Bonnie said, out of breath. She squirmed against her restraints but they held her in place.  “Wait, you don’t understand—”

Michael punched Craig square in the face, sending Craig against the wall and nightstand. A glass of water toppled and spilled on the carpet, the alarm clock hung off the front of the table by its wire. Craig clutched his face, then took his hand away for half a second and was greeted with a second blow. He was sent to his knees. Michael kicked his chest and Craig coughed, fell to his side.

“Michael!” Bonnie shouted, eyes streaming with tears.

He came to her, began untying her hands. “Honey,” he whispered. “Honey it’s okay, you’re okay, now.”

“I know,” Bonnie sputtered, trying to get a better look at Craig’s injury. “You just…you just like…is he…?”

Michael’s eyes widened, then his jaw set. He untied one arm then paced away to force her to untie the rest herself.

“Ah. Now I understand,” Michael said, surveying his struggling wife and her beaten lover, the latter squirming helpless on the floor. Michael pointed at Craig. “Get him out of here, now.”


Hours later, in the hotel with blinking blue Vacancy, Bonnie sobbed into the blankets. Craig rubbed her back. His face hurt still, but his nose didn’t seem broken and his teeth were all in place. His eye would be bruised in the morning though, he was sure of it.

“This isn’t how it was supposed to happen,” Bonnie said after her sobbing had died down. “I feel so empty.”

No more Michael…why couldn’t she just pick one thing and stick with it? She looked over her shoulder, and Craig smiled sadly at her. It was enough to bring on a second fit of tears.


Around two in the morning, Michael’s pick-up pulled into Sue Anne’s driveway. She emerged from the porch in a bathrobe and slippers.

“Hush,” she said as he came to the door. “My daughter’s sleeping.”

“Thank you so much, Sue Anne.”

“Sure…and hey,” she said, taking his jacket from him and smiling. “It’s Susie Q., again.”