When my grandparents bought their house in Southern Virginia back in the early 70's it was surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. It stayed that way for a few years but then came the motel. It was built, against their objection, right in their backyard. The back parking lot runs right up against their property line. They put up a privacy fence and planted some trees, but the motel and in inhabitants were still just a stone's throw away.
The motel was of a course of constant nuisance in their lives. There was a continuous flow of travelers, transients, cheating spouses, and derelicts making the motel their temporary home. There were arguments, fights, loud music, and even the occasional police raid. When I would visit during the summers as a child my grandmother was constantly warning me not to go near or even look over the fence... so of course, that's what I spent most of my time trying to do.
I would peer through holes in the fence for hours at a time just waiting for something entertaining to happen... but mostly, nothing ever did. Sometimes I would see a group of guys drinking in the parking lot. Sometimes they'd shot craps or have a card game. Once I remeber seeing two fat teenage boys get into a fight while a group of adults watched on laughing. They rolled around in the parking lot trying to choke each other for what seemed like ten or twenty minutes until one of them tore a big hole in his pants and his ass came flying out. Another time I saw a couple having sex in the back of a pickup truck. I was still too young to really uinderstand what they were doing, but I knew it was something I wasn't supposed to see and I liked it.
But for the most part, all the good stuff tended to happen at night when I was in bed. I would hear loud noises, commotion, screaming and cursing, then maybe a police siren. I'd lay in bed trying to create a story to explain whatever he mystery noises I'd heard. I'd fall asleep with my immagination still running wild and would dream that the "motel people" had hoped the fence and were try to break in my grandparent's house. But of course, nothing like that actually ever happened.
Eventually the motel changed owners and things began to quiet down. The clientel hasn't changed much, but the new owners seems to be much less tolerant of disturbing the peace. My grandfather has been gone for quite some time and I haven't heard my grandmother complain about the motel for several years.
When I was a kid I would see the motel sign and get a nervous feeling in my stomach, kind of like when you're watching a movie and the dramtic music starts playing in the background. Now when I see that motel sign pop up into the horizon I find it comforting. The trip to my grandmother's house takes nearly four hours and when I see that sign I know we've arrived at our destination and that I'm about to get a warm hug from my grandmother.