“At the Forty Winks Motel” by David James

David James


after James Tate

“What’s in the briefcase?” Sheila asked as she unbuttoned her blouse. “Oh, nothing,” I said. “It’s not nothing,” she said, “or else you wouldn’t have brought it here.” She unhooked her bra and slid her jeans to the floor. “I was going to surprise you,” I said. I was naked except for my socks. “I like surprises,” she said, turning to brush her teeth. I loved the curves in her hips as she faced away from me, running her fingers through her hair and spitting into the sink. 
        When Sheila got into bed with me, I put the briefcase on my lap. “Here it is,” I said, opening the case. “Portable darkness.” The room went dark. Completely dark. “Wow,” she said. “Where did you get this?” “On the dark web, of course. It was the last one.” “That’s kinda sexy,” she whispered. I felt her body snuggle up against mine as I set the briefcase gently on the side table. “As long as it’s open, we’ll have utter darkness around us. No matter what.” Sheila kissed my neck, ending with a little tongue lick. “Even in broad daylight?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. Sheila ran her left hand over my chest. “Even at the beach?” “Absolutely,” I said. She wrapped one of her smooth legs over both of my legs. “Even at church?” I think I said yes; I’m not sure because it was dark, and I couldn’t see, but I could feel.
        And let me tell you, nothing feels better than portable darkness.

from Rattle #65, Fall 2019


David James: “It’s interesting to see what you read influence your work. I read ‘Three Tall Women’ by Albee, and then I write a short play called ‘Three Small Men.’ I read about the holocaust and somehow those images begin to appear in my poems. I read Ghost Soldiers by James Tate, and I find myself writing these short prose poems. Inspiration? Imitation? Jealousy? I prefer to think of it as ‘standing on the shoulders’ of our heroes.”

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