I prefer to go off the beaten path whenever possible. I don’t mean it in a figurative sense, as in a poem by Robert Frost. When I want to experience real America, I hit the back roads. That’s why, if I can help it, I prefer to lodge in rustic roadside motels. At best, these abandoned motor courts have become hotels catering to long-term guests; at worst, they have become seedy backrooms for the world’s oldest profession. If you’re lucky, you find a motel under new ownership that the latter has lovingly restored for the benefit of kitsch enthusiasts. In my travels as a sales representative for a major technology firm, I encountered many of these.

The position called for little more than a friendly demeanor, a firm handshake, and the ability to make small talk about anything. Clichés such as “Always be closing,” “The customer is always right,” and so on aptly described my work. But let me clarify—I’m speaking in the past tense now. I’ve since left the world of sales.

A strange turn of events led me to become the owner of a roadside motel, a gift from its previous proprietor. The motel’s name is The Palomino. I affectionately refer to the location as “she.” She has an old neon sign with flaking paint depicting a rearing horse—a symbol of defiance fitting for my Palomino filly.

She’s in rural Appalachia, on a former US highway. As a result, it has kept its original number, but the DOT has prefixed it with “old.” If you find yourself against the breathtaking backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you might stumble upon The Palomino.

There will always be room for you. We have all the modern conveniences, including internet and cable television. Our permanent residents are friendly, and our cleaning crew keeps the building spotless. But I feel obliged to offer one piece of advice—steer clear of Room 8. If you heed this warning, you will remember your stay at The Palomino.

This post is a sample of my creative work and will appear in an upcoming anthology. This introduction should give you a good idea of what to expect in the future.