Narrative of a Fugitive Heart in a Motel at Midnight

by Joseph Armstead

Sitting down, finally, hands cold and trembling,
feeling angry, dirty, and lost...

Six hours on the road since sunset, coffee staining his breath,
driving through the foggy grayness
of an early winter's rainstorm, going north up Highway 101,
outside Inverness, the California town, not the Scottish one,
abandoned fisheries and boulder-strewn farmland on hillsides,
shaggy cows looking forlorn standing in mud,
ramshackle weather-beaten tourist cottages shining
like aged, wet leather under the insistent downpour,
thinking back to her cries of passion
(God, but her tight, hot moistness
had felt divine, a gift stolen from angels)
that suddenly became bleats of alarm,
her smoothly rolling hips suddenly jerking
as her legs kicked in surprised alarm,
as the bedroom door abruptly swung open
someone, a man, husband/lover, can't really be clear who,
someone who should have been a thousand miles
and two time zones away, came home early,
clueless, and invaded an intimate space,
newly-plundered, his romantic haven despoiled,
to witness a betrayal of the heart
expressed in naked physicality.

The look in that man's eyes made him wither inside.

His car had been his salvation as,
trouserless and barefoot, he'd run outdoors,
fumbling with keys ripped from the pocket of the pants
he clenched in his fist,
while the rain poured down.

Six hours on the road today, running, self-loathing
mixed with despair and cold water dripping
off the end of his nose,
he was startled by the sound of the clock's chimes
in the tiny room as they tolled
the arrival of midnight.

Sadly, he noticed how his hands no longer trembled.


Joseph Armstead is a suspense-thriller author, poet and computer technologist. He has authored nine novels and over two dozen short stories and been published in a dozen magazines and online journals. Really. And he writes poetry because there are some things that cannot be quantified within the framework of a plot-driven narrative. He writes poetry because he loves words and language. Sometimes he writes verse because he has trouble sleeping, but at other times it is because he has seen some image, some visual, that has sparked a dream of drama in his mind's eye. Mr. Armstead's subscription for behavior medication should probably be stronger than what it is.

Last updated August 25, 2011