Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day One Hundred Thirty Nine

The heat persists, day after day, not loosening its grip upon us. My nights are restless. Afternoons I am draggy and irritated, lethargic and uninspired.

At least I do not have to work outdoors as I did in my youth. When I first left the Lost Quarter I worked one summer constructing cell phone towers across the Western Dominions. We would move from town to town putting up towers, mounting antennas and running cable up their length. Climbing hundreds of metres, carrying tools, is hot work at the best of times. Summer was construction season, of course, and the days were long: twelve hours or more. Often we would be out until we lost the light and it became dangerous to be on the towers.

After one such long day we drove through the countryside – a rolling prairie south and west of the Quarter – to the nearest town. Dusk had settled by the time we arrived, the sun gone completely from the sky, though the heat had not relinquished its hold. We called the two new hotels in town asking for rooms and were told they were sold out. There was a baseball tournament in town.

Desperate, we decided to try the old hotel, which was now more of a local watering hole than a place to spend the night. They had one room available though and we decided it was better than nothing. We could have supper and some beers at the bar before retiring to our beds to sleep and then start all over again the next day.

Regret filled us almost immediately. The old hotel bar was dark and dingy, reeking of cigarette smoke and stale beer. The carpets felt strange under our footsteps. We waved down a bartender who said he had one room with two beds for the three of us. The doubt showed in all our eyes, but no one was willing to say we should just push on to the next town, no matter how tired we were.

We took the key and headed up the narrow, creaking stairs. The bar had been hot, the air stifling, but it was worse on the floor above. It was stale and heavy, smelling as though it hadn’t escaped the building in years.

We found our room at the end of the hall and opened the door and had just started to step inside when we heard a woman’s shriek and a man’s angry shout. After profusely apologizing we returned downstairs and gave the key back to the bartender, who told us he had given us the wrong key and that he did have a room available. We declined the offer and went back to our truck, heading out on the highway in the darkness of the night for the next town.

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