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A mere forty miles north of Paradise, The Lucky Strike Motel nestles against the banks of the Hudson River. With its “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, this unassuming establishment has become a favoured destination for couples bound by matrimony, albeit not necessarily to one another.

Betty Monroe, the dispassionate proprietress, scarcely extends a warm welcome to her transient guests, relying instead on the allure of affordable rates and the promise of anonymity. As she speaks, a cigarette clenched firmly between two coral-tinged lips oscillates rhythmically, evoking the image of a conductor guiding an unseen orchestra. A pair of sizeable tortoiseshell spectacles perches precariously on the tip of her angular nose while her keen eyes, reminiscent of the unerring gaze of supermarket scanners, appraise the motley assortment of visitors who pass through her doors.

She takes great pride in her uncanny ability to identify those who might abscond without settling their accounts, insisting on cash payment upfront from all who enter. The Lucky Strike Motel, a bastion of discretion and anonymity, continues to stand, its silent walls bearing witness to the myriad secrets of its transient patrons.

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© LewisChard 2020