Some stay for an hour, ruffle the spread and sheets, flush
a condom and leave the beige wrapper in the trash,
then ask for the 50 dollars back. This is a motel, I tell them, not a brothel.
My wife says she can spot them two miles away: the girls
young and pretty, but a bit washed-out at the cheeks and lips, arms
too thin at the elbows. It’s always the girl who asks for the refund,
never the man, Mariners hat tucked over his eyes, leaning
against an idling pickup. My wife wonders why I trust so much.
Give a room to a couple during a storm? I should know better.
I am not young, not like these girls. The youngest of them—
I would guess 18—asked what a brothel was. I laughed.
She asked again, her mouth enclosing the word. I explained
that women sold sex there and she started to cry.
On the way out she dragged her hand behind, middle finger
outstretched, refund in pocket. If we lose trust, I tell my wife,
we will truly have nothing left.