RIP Heritage Inn

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RIP Brinkley Heritage Inn…

No sane person wept about the loss of the Brinkley Heritage Inn a couple of weekends ago. It burned on my birthday, which is a cosmic sign of some sort. I didn’t hear of the loss until yesterday. Some people report they witnessed Lucifer’s shadow escaping the billowing columns of smoke and flame. Most weren’t looking up, however, as they were undoubtedly watching the ground closely for whatever might run out of the fires. For every good thing that might have come from Brinkley, the presence of this horrendous reputation-killing hotel confirmed every stereotype for such places. This hotel should have been fire-bombed by the Air Force at least ten years ago. I can’t imagine the firefighters called to contain the blaze really wanted to do anything to stop the burn. It wouldn’t have surprised me to see them throwing additional materials into the flames to ensure nothing rose from the ashes.

True story: you know the place is rough when you hear a gunshot and everyone with a concealed carry permit or even an illegal handgun runs toward the building, hoping to find an excuse to fire back and kill someone inside the hotel. It looked like the first take of a Quentin Tarantino film. (This hotel was one of the few places you get both meth and bedbugs within 5 minutes of entering.)

Even though thousands of people made the grievous mistake of attempting to stay there over the years, the Heritage Inn won’t be remembered as a quiet place of peace. It could have easily been used as a training ground for police needing to learn the urban tactics of the common criminal or by the ATF doing raids. GhostHunters wouldn’t film there – even the unfortunate ghosts residing there were armed and perfecting their own brand of meth. It is true that places like this need to exist, but I was in awe through the years that this particular Hell was allowed to exist directly off the interstate, openly defying Health and Safety laws and being the source of so much human misery.

Among the amenities of this hotel, one could experience the joy and passion of needing to climb through the window to get into your own room when no key was available. Dog lover? Stay near the room dedicated entirely to holding other tenants dogs, left loose and clawing the walls down to the studs. The scent of the area was quite fragrant, too. Several people reported feces in the bathtub when they got a room there. I’m not sure what level of crazy you have to be in to relieve yourself in the bathtub – or how a hotel would fail to notice that particular thing and then fix it. I guess they at least picked up the missing fingers and soaked up the pools of blood before renting the room?

You could sit in the back where the RV area was, watching the police drive by slowly, but never stopping. If you watched closely, you could watch drug deals, domestic abuse, and all the activity you would normally see on “Cops” the TV show, with the exception of the police not actually daring to climb out of their vehicles. It wouldn’t be uncommon to get a flat from a hypodermic needle or hear random screams – and not the pleasure kind either; no, these screams were snatched from the bowels of deepest human misery and amplified on the dirty concrete walls.

To the rear of the property behind the RV area was the abandoned hull of the saddest Wal-Mart to have existed in the history of retail. Not incidentally, that Wal-Mart had the distinction of having the worst bathroom I had ever personally experienced, and that includes even the time I was helping dad with a septic tank and fell in up to my waist. The Wal-Mart closed, leaving the Heritage Inn to remain, holding forlorn watch over the exit from I-40.

To those who accidentally pulled off I-40 from exhaustion, hoping to find a peaceful place to lay their heads, I say “thank you” to all of you who wrote some of the best reviews over the years. Your horror and disgust at some of the things you complained about was amusing. I’m sorry for your suffering of course, but be gladdened that your abject terror was enough to make me laugh. I could never write satire better than those who shared their horror stories disguised as reviews.

Now that the building has burned, if you read reviews online, most of them express joy that the place finally died. Most echo the sentiment that burning was the perfect end to such an imperfect and hideous business.

Here are review excerpts:
“…In summation, if you’re into sketchy sex, killing things, and a grim, hopeless, overall disconcerting vibe, maybe this is totally the place for you…” – “…I got back in my van and kept driving through the storm. I’d rather risk lightning than a stray bullet any day…” – “…Do not stay here. Avoid it like the plague. Because you might actually catch the plague at this dump…” – “…I opened the room door and was startled by the resemblance to decor right out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I count myself among the survivors of the Heritage Inn….” – “…Go here, if you dare or are writing a horror screenplay…Heritage Inn at Brinkley, Arkansas is alright if you like fighting. And crack deals and homicide…” – “While I am interested in crime scene investigation, I had never dreamed that I would be able to sleep in an actual crime scene…” – “Two of the filthiest prostitutes I’ve ever seen walked passed me and two kids. My little boy literally screamed a little when he looked at them. I watched one of the other long-term tenants kick the rat-trap around as I unloaded my car… We stayed in our room for about 15 minutes, long enough to hear dogs howling in pain and what sounded like a gunshot followed by screams and then muffled crying…” – “…and the lobby attendant looked like he was from a dumpster…”

I know what you are thinking: “X is exaggerating again.” But I’m not. Because of my mom, I spent time near this hotel. The picture on this post is of a Housekeeping cart. It’s an old Wal-Mart shopping cart. You can see the vacuum cleaner, which they rarely used, on the back. The towels in the top are dirty and the ones in the lower basket are ‘clean.’ This picture conveys everything you need to know and allows you to extrapolate the sheer magnitude of crazy that the Heritage Inn conveyed. You can google the pictures and reviews if you want.

I hope that Brinkley decides to allow nothing else to be built upon the ruins of the Heritage Inn. It should be memorialized as a disaster area, left vacant, serving as a warning to travelers and citizens alike.

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