Even after he became a a marquee writer of paperback original novels, John D. MacDonald continued to write and sell short stories - his chosen profession during the 1940s. The July 1955 issue of Justice magazine featured a JDM novella called “In a Small Motel” that clocks in at about 39 modern pages. The story has been compiled in various anthologies through the years and is currently available as a 99 cent ebook.
It’s a busy evening for proprietor Ginny Mallory at Southern Georgia’s Belle View Courts motel with needy customers checking in while others are demanding ice and roll-away beds. Ginny is a hard-working widow from Jacksonville, Florida whose husband bought the motel and then died in a car accident seven months ago. She’s been trying to keep the business afloat all alone ever since.
A mystery man arrives wanting a single room and insisting that he hide his car behind the building where it can’t be seen from the highway. Rather suspicious, no? A romantic suitor from Jacksonville swings by the motel to visit Ginny, and the mystery man gets the mistaken impression that the visitor is following him and then...
Stop, stop, stop!
I shouldn’t say any more or else I’m liable to ruin this excellent story for you. “In a Small Motel” is really something twisty and cool. The novella will make you want to dive deeper into MacDonald’s vast short fiction library. Read this one. It’ll be the best 99 cents you spend this year.
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