0014 Thunderbird

There is a metal and glass display case in the lobby of a motel in Savannah, Georgia. This display case is surrounded by other items that one might expect to find in a well-kept motel common area: two insulated coffee pots, bins of sugar packets and single-serving containers of creamer, a napkin dispenser, and a few, assorted boxes of Bigelow tea bags.

The large, silver, metal case is the most substantial object on the counter. Its two clear, glass doors are the size of small windows. Windows whose views are best in the morning when the case is full, brimming with a variety of donuts from a well-known North Carolina donut company. The case's four shelves crowded with fried rings of dough, topped with sprinkles, filled with cream, finished with pink icing, dark brown chocolate, and frosted glazes.

As the summer sun rises, guests begin to trickle into the lobby empty-handed. They walk out, minutes later, with steaming paper cups of coffee and breakfasts that can be stacked into small, cylindrical towers.

Most continue on, returning to their rooms to eat and drink and begin their day. Some, though, may stop and look up to admire the multicolored neon sign that hovers above the building. Their eyes trained on the two enormous, stylized birds, that stand on its edges.

The sign looks different in the daylight: subdued, dormant, only an outline of its nighttime self when the current flows through the noble gases trapped in the glass tubes and those two birds glow so bright that their light spills out across the parking lot, multiplying in dark car windows.

The reds, golds, and blues crawl all the way to the green doors of the motel rooms, climbing up the brightly painted panels beneath the windows until some finds its way through cracks in the perimeters of closed curtains. And there, in quiet rooms, the colors might land on an empty, damp paper cup or a plate that was once filled with donuts from the metal and glass display case, in the lobby, under that sign.

A row of hotel rooms with bright green doors and multicolored panels beneath their windows.