Locus Focus: Take Sixty-Seven
I was going to hold out until May because taking Holy Week off will mean getting only three Saturdays in April--and I want at least four for each Locus Focus challenge. Giving it some more thought, though, I realised I could give this Saturday to it, too, and get my desired total anyway. So here I present a setting that blends both this month's desert theme and next month's Settings in Song challenge.
by The Eagles
"We are all just prisoners here of our own device . . ."
Where I grew up, most radio stations would play only "Oldies" on Sundays--and when I was growing up, "Oldies" included a lot of Classic Rock, like The Eagles' Hotel California. While I wouldn't say I have the lyrics properly memorised, I can sing every word whenever the song comes on the radio . . . usually on a Sunday. =P So it was easy to run through some of them in my mind when my high school Music teacher, a "first generation" Eagles fan, told my class about the freaky 1970s legend that the famous hotel in the song was a metaphor for hell.
"You can check out any time you like/ But you can never leave . . ."
This must be our first really negative desert setting. Until this point, we've seen deserts as places where boys become men, where men become heroes, where civilisations are judged, and where legends are tested. And now we hear about a man driving down a dark desert highway, a little high on colitas, when he comes to a hotel in the middle of nowhere . . . a suspiciously convenient place for a tired traveler to bed down for the night.
And what he finds inside just gets freakier and freakier, the imagery peaking with a live animal served up at table. Yes, that would make me run for the door, too. But by the time he realises that the Hotel California isn't a place he would like to be, he is told that he may never leave.
It seems like a cruel trap, but there were warning signs enough. You see, unless a dry, barren, cactusey middle of nowhere has been legitimately developed into the middle of somewhere, deserts just aren't supposed to have hotels. Occasional oases, yes, but anything else would be as out of place as a house made of gingerbread in the middle of a forest . . . or an island full of enchantingly beautiful women singing to sailors in the middle of the sea. Indeed, every setting will have its own tantalising "hellmouth"--and (if you will forgive a mixed metaphor) each hellmouth, its own tell-tale cloven hooves. And I think that in the back of our minds, we all know this.