A History of Hotels

The following essay is an introduction I wrote for the reissued edition of my novel, The Nightly Disease. Purchase a signed copy directly through my webstore (recommended), or Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

the nightly disease reissue



The steelworker purchases a hotel with two of his coworkers. According to one of the men, there’s no way in hell this won’t make all three of them very wealthy. He frequently approaches the other two with get-rich-quick schemes, and they always, without doubt, fail. The aftermath of a disastrous greyhound sponsorship remains lingering in their memories like the ashes from an arson. Abandoned Amway products litter each of their residences. What makes this hotel idea any different, no one can quite say, but the steelworker goes along with the plan nonetheless. Later, when asked why he agreed, he will say: “I don’t know. That’s a good question.”

This choice will trigger a chain of events that will result in the steelworker, almost a decade later, penetrating a woman with his penis and impregnating her with what will eventually evolve into the author of the novel you currently hold in your hands.

The hotel is located on the corner of 119th Street and Atchison Avenue in Whiting, Indiana. It’s called The Illiana, a term often used to describe the general area bordering Illinois and Indiana. The location leaves much to be desired. Bikers and drug addicts quickly start favoring the hotel bar as a preferred hangout spot. Every guest is a potential meth freak capable of murdering the front desk clerk and running off with whatever’s in the register. Space exists in the building for a nice restaurant, but none of the three owners ever take advantage of the opportunity and the room remains empty for the entire six years the building lasts in their possession.

The steelworker and his two coworkers continue working at the mill while sharing shifts running The Illiana. Will the hotel eventually start feeling like a smart business decision? No. It will never feel like that.


The woman who will go on to become this author’s mother walks into The Illiana’s bar with her fiancé. The steelworker who will go on to become this author’s father serves them their drinks, and tells the woman he just returned from a trip to Jamaica, and he’s curious if she’d like to join him next time he goes. The woman doesn’t respond at first, since she’s positive he’s fucking with her, but the steelworker is sincere. He wants this woman he’s only just met to leave the country with him.

“Well? What do you say?” says the steelworker.

“What the fuck? I don’t even know you,” says the steelworker’s future wife, and her and her fiancé leave the bar. Later that night, her fiancé will tell the woman she is forbidden from ever returning to The Illiana, and a few months later, the woman will break up with her fiancé and apply for a job at the hotel. In the afternoons she will work at a hot dog stand, and in the evenings she will work the front desk. At home are her two sons, being watched by their grandparents. These dumb little babies have no idea their mother is in the process of getting to know their future stepfather.


The steelworker and the new front desk girl decide to get married.


The three owners of The Illiana declare bankruptcy and give up on their dreams of running a hotel.


I am born inside of a hotel. A storm outside prohibits my parents from driving to a hospital. The night auditor on duty is burdened with the responsibility of delivering me into this cold, unforgiving world. He has my mom lay down on the floor in the lobby and he tells her to push, goddammit, push. A line grows at the front desk. People wanting to check-in. Guests demanding pillows, blankets, you name it. Everybody in the hotel is suddenly inconvenienced by my life. After I am free, the night auditor wraps me in a blanket and kisses my forehead and whispers into my ear: “I pass the curse onto you. I pass the curse onto you.”

I’m just kidding. I was born in a hospital somewhere in Hobart, Indiana. But imagine if that really happened. Holy shit.


I am ten years old and going on my first real vacation. Orlando, Florida. Disneyworld. Universal Studios. Islands of Adventure. Daytona Beach. My father stays home. My grandmother on my mother’s side is treating us to this trip: me, my mother, my nephew, my niece, and my half-brother’s half-brother. Only my grandmother has a driver’s license. It takes us two days to reach our destination. Along the way, we stop at a Days Inn and I sleep in a bed with my mother and my nephew. The next day we make it to Orlando and check in to our new hotel. I don’t remember the name. We are all excited to start the vacation. After we check-in to our room, my grandmother informs us today everybody must attend a meeting with her. “We’re going to a timeshare presentation,” she says, “since they were kind enough to help discount our room.” Somehow, she forgot to mention this until right now. It is at this time that I decide I hate my grandmother. I hate her for sneaking this on all of us. I hate her for being a liar. I haven’t yet learned that everybody on this planet is a liar. I haven’t learned that lying is the only way people survive. Later, when I am an adult with my own family, I’ll think back to this trip and realize I would have done exactly the same thing if placed in her position.


I am a few months shy of thirteen. The mold in our ceiling has started spreading like an infection. A hole in our living room remains open like the eye of a conspiracy theorist. I rent Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Chuck Palahniuk’s Survivor from the library. I watch the movie and fall asleep. The next morning, I wake to a house without power. This is not a surprise. Bills are frequently overdue. Sometimes the power is shut off. It usually comes back on after a day or so. There is never a need to worry. I go to school, and when I return home in the afternoon, the power is still off. My mother tells me we are going to stay the night at a hotel, and then tomorrow the electricity issue will be resolved.

She has a little over a week of free rooms saved up for the Majestic Star Casino & Hotel in Gary. Casinos don’t mind gifting their best customers room comps. It encourages them to never leave. And, once a week passes and we still haven’t returned home, I begin to wonder if we ever will leave. My father drops me off at school in the mornings then I take the bus home and sit in our house without power and read books and pet my dog and apologize for leaving her alone every night, that I wish she could be with us at the hotel. I read Chuck Palahniuk’s Survivor and Richard Price’s Clockers and I stare at my X-Box 360 and wonder how to eject Kiss Kiss Bang Bang from the disc tray without power. My father picks me up each day after he finishes his shift at the mill and we return to the hotel and eat McDonald’s. We are always eating fucking McDonald’s. The dollar menu is our religion. Another week passes and my parents decide to pull me out of school. It’s too much of a hassle for my father to drive from the hotel to my school to his work then back to our house then to the hotel again every day. My mother tells me they will just homeschool me for the last couple weeks of the school year, then enroll me in high school come August. When we run out of free room comps at the casino hotel and my father’s paycheck has dried up, we stay at my grandparents’ house in Hammond until payday comes around again. Every day after work my father drives to our house and feeds my dog and takes her out for a walk. One evening he pulls up in my grandparents’ driveway and gets out and tells me my bedroom window has been smashed in and the dog is gone. It is my thirteenth birthday.

Eventually a fight breaks out between my mother and grandmother and our presence is no longer welcome. We find a Super 8 in Portage that’ll give us a generous weekly rate. Just another week or two, I’m promised, then we will return home. I ask why we can’t just go back home now. I ask why this is happening. I ask why she won’t explain anything to me. She tells me to stop being a smartass. She tells me she means it. Over time I give up asking for answers. It’s clear I will never have them. I can make an educated guess and assume my mother’s gambling addiction has played a significant factor in our current lifestyle. Still, eventually this mess will work itself out and we will return to our house. I tell myself this over and over for months, until I finally realize I’m living in a fantasy world, that we will never go back there again.

We continue to live in the Super 8 for three more years.


When I am sixteen, my parents rent a house with my brother and his girlfriend. I enroll in an adult high school and earn my diploma within two years. Sometimes we drive past the Super 8 on our way to Walmart and I place an open palm against the backseat window and stare at the building while my thoughts whirl up a tornado of depression.


At age eighteen I buy a bus ticket to Texas with the funds earned from writing Wikipedia articles for indie authors. The articles last barely six months before an admin deletes them all. I take my copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Survivor with me. The Lake Station Public Library will never see it again. I don’t know what happened to my X-Box 360 or the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang disc inserted into it. Probably pawned for extra double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s.

I vow to never step foot in another hotel for the rest of my life.


I get a job as an overnight stocker at Walmart and last almost eight months before quitting for a new job with a retail warehouse called Garden Ridge. A month into the new job, I start applying elsewhere. The managers at Garden Ridge are monsters and treat their employees like garbage. The Atrium Inn interviews me for the night audit position. It goes well and I get the job. I sign the paperwork and shake the manager’s hand and I start walking across town to tell the managers at Garden Ridge to go fuck themselves. The Atrium Inn manager calls my cell phone halfway through Garden Ridge’s parking lot. He tells me somebody called in sick tonight and they need me to start immediately. I will be expected to work the shift by myself, with zero training provided. I suggest this might be an irrational plan, and the manager promptly fires me. My first hotel job lasts barely a half hour. A month later, Garden Ridge fires me for developing pneumonia. I spend the next three weeks applying to every business in town. Eventually I decide fuck it and try my luck with another hotel. Let’s call it The Goddamn Hotel, because that’s its name. I walk into the lobby and ask for an application and the lady behind the front desk tells me their full-time night auditor just put in her two weeks, so I apply for her position. I’m interviewed the next day and a month passes before they offer me the job.


The city of Whiting, Indiana officially takes possession of the former Illiana Hotel via the county property tax sale process.

I create a Facebook group called Confessions of a Hotel Night Auditor to post about the weird shit constantly occurring at The Goddamn Hotel. It doesn’t take long for me to realize a novel needs to exist with similar content, and I begin writing one while working the night shift.


I finish the final draft of the hotel novel. I title it No Sleep ’Til Dying. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever written, and probably the best. I lose track of what’s autobiographical and what’s fiction. It doesn’t matter. It’s all the same. Nothing is true. Everything is a lie.

I submit the manuscript to a handful of publishers and wait.


DarkFuse, a small press of dark fiction, accepts the novel eight months after I send it to them. Their first editorial note is to change the title. I send them a list of possibilities and we eventually settle on The Nightly Disease. DarkFuse releases the novel as a serial on their website throughout the month of October. One chapter a night. They also open pre-orders for a limited edition hardback. It’s the first time one of my books has been published in hardback. We sell our fifty copies at $60 each by the end of the month. I sign the signature sheets with immense pride. We settle on a publication date for the trade paperback and ebook: April 2017. Then, in December 2016, I randomly notice the book is already on Amazon. I email DarkFuse and ask why it’s out early, why nobody told me. They explain they were going to tell me, they just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I think about why a family might move into a hotel and never return home. I think about my mom telling me not to be a smartass.


Six months after The Nightly Disease is released, DarkFuse emails their authors and announces they will be discontinuing their paperback and eBook distribution. All titles published before 2017 will be released back to their authors. The authors are given a chance to sign a new contract to keep the books in print, but no author in their right mind would sign such a terrible document. Six months after my hotel novel came out, it died. Six months after I finally felt free from the hotel’s grasp, it had its hold on me all over again. I think about houses without electricity. I think about the Super 8 in Portage, Indiana. I think about how the owner of DarkFuse lives in Indiana, and how the state follows me wherever I go. Eventually DarkFuse will file bankruptcy and I will never see a dime of royalties from January – June 2017. All of my promotional efforts for the book have been wasted. I get real fucking depressed.

I have to email several websites who had agreed to review the hotel novel and let them know not to bother wasting their time. If a new audience can’t purchase the book, then hustling for reviews comes meaningless.

A question I start asking myself: “What’s the fucking point?”

Now that the book has been removed from distribution, the way I see it, I’m left with three options going forward.

  1. I self-publish it.
  2. I convince another press to reprint it.
  3. I let it die and move on to the next project.

Going the self-publishing route doesn’t seem too far-fetched, considering I’ve operated my own small press, Perpetual Motion Machine, for the last five years. I’ve yet to publish my own writing, not because I view self-publishing negatively but more because I prefer to keep my own writing and my publishing business separate. I feel like if I start publishing my own work through PMMP, then I risk criticism of playing “favorites” over the press’s catalog. It’s less complicated to just let another publishing company handle my writing.

The problem with approaching another press, of course, is that it’s going to be difficult to convince someone else to reprint a book that came out six months ago.

Which brings me to option #3: forgetting I ever wrote the damn thing and focusing on new books.

The process of writing a book is a lengthy endeavor. Even when you think you are finished, its completion will continue to stretch on and on until you’ve successfully pulled every strand of hair from your scalp, and even then it probably won’t quite be done. All writers must face the cold reality that no book is ever actually finished—they’re abandoned. Either you give up and send it out into the wild or you never stop fidgeting with it.

Solace is only gained once the book has been published, because the time to edit has passed. It’s too late to make any additional changes. Once it’s out, it’s out, and if you decide you want to change a couple things, well tough shit, it’s too late. It’s difficult to describe the relief that hit me once The Nightly Disease was released. I had been working on this book for a couple years, writing a scene here and there between interactions with guests at my job. After a while, like with any book, you start getting sick of it. You just want to be finished so you can move on to the next thing. I haven’t thought about writing the hotel book in a long time. I thought I was done with it. I thought I could wipe it from my memory. This is how I imagine most writers feel once they release a new title. They delete it from their brains to clear room for the next project consuming their every waking thought.

It makes sense, but it’s also foolish, because what happens when that book unexpectedly goes out of print and you’re forced to revisit it all over again?

Maybe it’s selfish to assume a novel will live forever. Maybe a novel should only last as long as its initial interest. Maybe six months is the perfect lifespan for a book. Any longer, and it’s just outstaying its welcome. There are so many books on this planet being published every single day, and it’s rude to take up any further space than we rightfully deserve. I think about my novel and I wonder if there would be any point in bringing it back to print. It had a good run, even if I didn’t receive any money from the piece of shit publisher who originally released it. The readers who would find it entertaining have probably purchased it by now and if it had stayed in print it would have just slowly faded into oblivion. Or maybe it was just about to hit a point where hundreds of new readers discovered it. There’s no way to tell with these things, especially now that it’s gone.

But will it stay gone?

No. Of course not. I consider letting it die every day, but the thought makes me sick. I can’t decide why I need it to be published again. I can’t force myself to forget it exists. It’s the most personal thing I’ve ever written, and to dump it in the trash feels like a sin.

So I go through the goddamn book again. I add a couple scenes here and there, but don’t change anything too drastically. I write a new introduction for it. I decide to call the introduction “A History of Hotels” because my life has been nothing but one hotel after another. Sometimes when I’m lonely at The Goddamn Hotel I call the Super 8 in Portage, Indiana and hang up after the front desk clerk asks how they can help me. I hang up and I cry and I don’t know why.

I will self-publish the book through my own press. Fuck it.

Five years after starting my employment at The Goddamn Hotel, I’m still here, writing this introduction behind the front desk while guests get drunk in the lobby. I will never leave. I will die here and management will simply bury my remains in the flowerbed in front of the building and a new night auditor will emerge from the earth. The cycle will never end.

Hotel is god. Hotel is god. Hotel is god.

Max Booth III

August 25, 2017

Purchase a signed copy of The Nightly Disease.

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