Tulsa, OK -- September 4, 2007

Two states to go.

I got to my hotel room at about three-thirty in the morning, but, though I hadn't slept in a bed since the night of the 30th, I couldn't sleep. The night before I'd seen the Stephen King movie, 1408, which is about a haunted hotel room #1408--actually #1308--where a poor writer spends the night watching ghosts jump out the window, and the water in the bathtub go on for no reason, etc.

Just moments after closing my door and putting my bag down, I knew I had to change rooms. Not only did the room smell stuffy--the hotel had just reopened and smelled like death--the number was #308. Just one digit off of #1308. Too close to the movie.

The front desk lamented with me that the air freshener just didn't quite cover the odor, and moved me to a different room, which smelled a little better and had an agreeable number--#800--but the plumbing made awful scary noises all night long. I yearned for the floor of a crowded bus station. Give me over-air conditioned linoleum!

The next morning, when I was finally getting into the shut-eye groove, housekeeping had to practically kick me out of the room. Sleepless, I set out to interview readers on Cherry Street, recommended by my friend's mother. I also tried to find readers near the hotel, at the hub of city bus transit, just a couple blocks from the main library. But, despite its prime location, not a single person was reading anything thicker than a bus schedule.

When I returned to the hotel to retrieve my bag before heading to the bus station the staff asked how my search for readers had gone. I hung my head low and explained how, while I found plenty on Cherry Street, I found no readers in the downtown area, near the hotel. The desk attendant shrugged knowingly. Yeah, she said, probably because they were all lined up in front of the hotel.

I may have escaped room #308 the night before, but someone in the room one floor below my had spent the day trying to jump.

I said a little prayer and felt grateful I'd be sleeping on the bus for the duration of the trip.

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