Checking In After Hours (Part II)

Flash Fiction: The mysterious fire extinguisher

She stared at the man, fumbling for the words to tell him what they’d just found, and before she could get the first word out, he said, “Lemme guess, you found Magda? We’ve been looking for her for hours.”

Hearing this, Tamara fainted. Her feathered-like body splayed itself on the floor. There she lay until the cops arrived.


The strange Oompa Loompa’d man waddled over to Tamara and waved his hands frantically in front of her face. He leaned in far too close to her and then stared intently until she blinked and opened her eyes. Tamara shot up from her fainted state — disoriented — but regained her sense of self quickly. He led one police officer to the area where she was and directed the other to the room the couple reserved.

“Hey! Hey! Name’s Beau. Officer Beau Dibbs. We got ourselves a bit of a situation here. You the one who found the motel’s cleanin’ lady, Magda?”

The strange man stood behind the front desk with a defiant look plastered on his face. He scrutinized Tamara silently while Officer Dibbs attempted to get whatever information he could out of Tamara. She averted her eyes from him and paid attention to Officer Dibbs.

“Ye — Yes, me and my husband found the woman. He — her head. God! Her head was in the bed and her body was in the tub. IN THE TUB!”

Officer Dibbs made note of the delirium spouting from Tamara’s mouth. He perused the perimeter, took photos of the motel lobby, and asked the strange man to escort him to the scene of the crime. Tamara walked along behind them — afraid to touch anything. There was a fire extinguisher on the wall next to their room. Had it been there before? The glass was broken, yet the extinguisher looked to be intact.

“Was that fire extinguisher there when we checked in? I just . . . I don’t remember it being there before.”

“Yup. Gotta have one every hundred feet. City code. There’s one here, then about five rooms down, there’s another. And so on, and you know. City code.”


Officer Dibbs entered the room. His partner, Officer Clive Bends had questioned Tamara’s husband Dale, took photos of the mangled body, the room, and blocked off the area in a 50-foot radius with crime scene tape. Dale was standing in the middle of the room, hovering over their children, and muttering a lullaby. It seemed as though the song was for him more than it was for their children.

“Dibbs. It’s a damn mess. Couple came in expecting a night of rest from a long drive up. They’re headed farther North. From what I got from the husband over there, they hadn’t been in the room five minutes before locating the body. According to him, they don’t know the lady, and don’t have anything to do with this here, um . . . situation.”

The strange man stared at Dale, then at Tamara, then at both officers before speaking up.

“The deceased is Magda. Magda Kowalski. No children. She lives here on site. Works every day along with our other two maids; Daphne and Tess. Last I heard from her was three days ago — hadn’t called in — nothing. This was odd for Magda. She’d be here at 07:00 on the dot every morning. As I said, she lives on site.”

Noting the information given by the motel clerk, the officers gathered their things and headed for Magda’s room. Tamara insisted on following along — she wouldn’t be able to sleep. Not tonight, and definitely not at this motel. On her way out, she noticed the fire extinguisher was on the opposite side of the door.

“Wasn’t that fire extinguisher on the other side when we came in?”

“No, ma’am. Been there the whole time.”

But had it?


Originally published in Hinged.press via Medium.

Part I

Checking In After Hours

Photo by Sean Mungur on Unsplash

Flash Fiction

Tamara slapped the call bell on the dusty motel desk with her freshly manicured hand. She had on thigh-high boots, a blood-red sarong, and a black throw draped across her shoulders.

Her nine-month-old son bounced on her hips. His tired eyes surveyed the dingy lobby — his fat feet kicked at the stale air.

It was 12:35 am and their family had turned off I-95 onto the ramp for Exit 164 and pulled into the first parking lot they spotted.

Dale, Tamara’s bald, bold, and barky husband, stumbled in behind her and the baby, carrying their four-year-old lopsidedly across his chest. He barked at Tamara to hit the call bell again.

She slapped the bell this time with a salty vengeance that had been pulled from the depths of her exhausted body. She slapped it again and then again, and then finally . . . a chubby, Oompa Loompa’d man appeared from the shadows. He yawned, scratched his scruffy beard, and acknowledged them begrudgingly.

“How many beds and how many nights?”

Tamara looked at Dale, then back at the man, and said whisperingly, “Two beds, one night.”

The man whisked a key from the panel on the wall beside him, scanned it under the reader, and typed the request on the computer. He blurted out the fee.

“72.99. We only take cash. ATM’s on the side of the building next to the vending machines if you need it. $3.99 fee, though.”

Tamara looked at Dale, who looked at her and the two of them scraped cash from their purse and wallet, respectively. They paid the fee and took the key from the man.


Once in front of the door to their room, they swiped the key over the reader and opened the door. The room, to their surprise, was spotless and smelled of lemon-scented Pine-Sol and lavender-scented bleach. But something felt off.

They piled their things on the table near the window, turned on the lights and television, and laid the children down on the bed nearest the bathroom.

Tamara pulled back the covers to the bed she and Dale would share, and a trapped scream escaped her throaty lungs. Before her, was the head of what must have been the motel’s maid. Dale found the rest of her body in the tub.

Tamara bolted out of the door to the lobby while Dale called the cops. She slapped the call bell and yelled for the attendant. He came stumbling out from his previous stupor, annoyed by yet another interruption.

“Room need cleaning? Or empty fridge?”

She stared at the man, fumbling for the words to tell him what they’d just found, and before she could get the first word out, he said, “Lemme guess, you found Magda? We’ve been looking for her for hours.”

Hearing this, Tamara fainted. Her feathered-like body splayed itself on the floor. There she lay until the cops arrived.


Originally published in Hinged.press via Medium.

Mothers, I Celebrate You

The workaholic
Who never has enough sleep
Cares for everyone

Undeniable
My gift to you is this love
Your existence saves

Mothers, God bless you
You bloom when we all wither
Weeping willows sing


Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who are mothers, those of you mothering others who are not your own, caretakers and rescuers and do-gooders. Thank you for who you are and what you do. I celebrate you.

The Grieving Room

The inevitability of life ending should not end you

Photo by Ryan Gagnon on Unsplash

We moved through several tornado warnings yesterday in my area and all I could truly think about was seeing the sun once again when it peeked through the clouds. How odd, isn’t it? To wish for the sun in the middle of a torrential downpour with looming tornadoes lurking in the distance? I guess I can describe it as odd, but when I take a step back and look at the entire picture, perhaps not. I feel as though I have been escaping several tornadoes of my own — lifely tornadoes.

It is my belief that we, as human beings, have been programmed to wish for the light in the middle of darkness. We prefer happiness over sadness — a great outlook on life instead of a painful one — a successful career as opposed to a flighty one that leaves consistent income as a mere thought and not a reality. We want these things to be near the positive end of life’s spectrum, yet we often forget that in order for there to be balance, we need the downs and the ups. We have to brace ourselves for the lows in order to find ourselves on the high end once again. This is the way of life.

Death is inevitable — we can never stop it.

I recently lost my aunt, my mom’s older sister — on the tail-end of losing a writer friend — on the tail-end of losing my older, favorite cousin. There has been a death of a loved one each month so far this year except in January. When one pulls all this information and losses in order to register them properly, it’s hard to digest. On top of these not-so-happy experiences, the average workday still had to occur.

On Tuesday, May 3, 2022, I took a bereavement day. I had phone calls to make on behalf of my mother — people to “fill in” regarding the news. I checked on my grandmother and my uncle to see if I needed to take on any of the tasks to lighten their loads. I kept up with my mom, (who is dealing with this oddly) to be her sounding board and listening ear. Plainly put, I had things to do — death did not stop me.

Wikipedia defines death as:

Death is the irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain an organism.

“The irreversible cessation . . .” Although death has taken place so much it seems recently, life continues. There are things that have to be done — need to be done and without these things, I cannot live the life I agreed to ensure for myself.

Take a break when you know you need to.

I found it best to take a temporary leave away from social media and writing platforms. A clear head was what I needed. I wanted to be readily available for family and friends and of a sound mind if I were called upon. I was. And this meant more to me than something I am sure I can log in to check from this point forward. There was no emergency online — nothing that needed my immediate attention. Everything likened to some form of interest to me is still here — still thriving.

It had been of the utmost importance for me to pull away, listen to my heart and mind, and sustain myself at all costs. The weight from the heaviness of multiple losses has no description. There are no words. I am reminded of my father — an Episcopalian minister/elder who says about death: “Baby, death is a life coming to its end, and there’s nothing that can be done about it.” No truer words have been spoken. We can try our best to stave off death or stare it down in its face as long as we have the willingness to fight it, but if it is time — your time — my time, it will happen. On this, you can be certain.

You fell. Get back up.

The fall came before I could measure it. I used to call it “The Downing,” when I was prone to slipping into depressive states. But it came. This time, I am unsure if I should credit growth, overall satisfaction with my life, or the understanding of more things now that I am older, but I did not stay knocked down. I lunged my body upward, shook myself stable, and soldiered on with what feels like a higher purpose.

I refused to let the inevitability of life ending end me. Each of these people are lovely, and I have wonderful memories of them. I have photographs, stories, email exchanges, visits, and phone calls, and every single one of these memories is now filed in my mental log for future recollection. I am, however, taking baby steps. I am not running at this point, no . . . I am walking casually along this path while I allow myself to grieve wholeheartedly.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” — Jeremiah 29:11, NLT


Welcome to The Grieving Room. I am here. You are here. We are not alone in this.

See you next Saturday.


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally shared via LinkedIn.

I Am Claiming My Happiness

A Snapshot

Friday is most often my favorite day of the week, but today, this Friday feels special. I woke up long before the cock of the crow–body clock had its own plans. There was a light mist in the air before the impending rain. A short walk with the dog presented a sense of presence–a sense of #relief.

I could feel it deep down in my bones–today is truly going to be a great day. I say so. I’ll make it so.

May Friday grant you whatever you may need today. I am claiming my happiness–I wish the same for you, too.


Originally shared via LinkedIn.


*The last five days have been the break I needed. Sometimes it’s best to step away from everything and feel EVERYTHING while it’s fresh and painful. I allowed myself the chance to move through the weight of bad news and still grieve without shame–without harming myself or others. A breath of fresh air is often more than simply inhaling the gifts around us. Thank you everyone for your kind words, thoughts, prayers, emails, etc. This is such an awesome community, and I’m grateful for it.