Sunday, July 25, 2010

Death at the Budget Inn

There are a few places in Charlotte where most of us would never think of setting foot inside. The Budget Inn at North Graham and I-85 is one such place.

I can't imagine a less attractive place to have your life come to an rapid violent end. Sandwiched between industrial buildings and heavy duty truck dealers, and alongside the heavily traveled I-85, the Budget Inn is near the last rung on the accommodations ladder in Charlotte.

The noise is constant even in the early hours, as heat radiates from the interstate highway only 50 yards away. The sounds of a dozen air-conditioners at full hum echo against the concrete walls and compete for attention against the sound of one bad tire on an 18 wheeler bound for Atlanta. The truck is doing at least 80 miles an hour, but the sound, a womp, womp, womp, goes on for an eternity.

Like many cheap hotels in Charlotte The Budget Inn is owned by Purshottam, Inc. a company whose owners are of South Asian descent. Immigrants from India, and Paskistan for some reason are drawn to the small hotel business.

Like many in the ultra low end hospitality industry, this business has struggled to make ends meet and although current now, the company has been forced to make tax payments on an installment plan with the Mecklenburg County tax office.

Inside the lobby smells of an odd combination of curry and fried bacon, in the heat the smell is nauseating in the confines of the small office.

Normally the cars and trucks in the parking lot would represent the working class and down on their luck. The hapless tourist who books a room to save a buck, might make a u-turn at the sight of the bullet proof glass and bank style drive up drawer.

But today at dawn the parking lot is oddly empty, yellow police tape twisting the humid July air and police cruiser are the only remaining signs of a violent death. Another life gunned down, someone busted a cap or two or three, for what reason most of us can't understand.

The Budget Inn understands, this place of desperate people, drug dealers and addicts, of gangs, a place where taking a life is easy, and the talk of death between police officers is shockingly casual to most of us.

The breeze builds and then falls, the lone CMPD officer on the scene doesn't want his photo taken, the day will soon turn hot and within the hour it will be business as usual.

The presure washer is gone but the smell of bleach used to clean up spilled blood lingers. No rain has fallen but water streaks the parking lot.

By nightfall those accustom to such places will lock their doors and try to not hear the sounds of anger as they pray for the stillness of the humid night to pass quickly.

And it's hard for this life long resident to accept that this too is Charlotte.

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