Sunday, 12 December 2010



The hotel lobby had a pea green carpet from the seventies. Not shag. It was flat and muffled by the feet of moneyed travellers. She pulled back the faded drapes overlooking the lake. Her gesture revealed a deep orange sun going down. She lingered and imagined herself as a guest rather than employee. She felt her neck ache for some pearls. She had just come from... say Montserrat...and was coming home to her favorite hotel for some mountain serenity. She even took a bath. The gold taps belted out the water. A little stolen luxury on the clock.

"Fetch me the rope."
She jumped. The door hinges were well oiled. He was just going about his routine replacing the tie backs and putting the cushions in order. Why was the rope on the bed instead of around the curtains? Shaking head.
"They're coming back." He knotted them.
"The guests. They're just out for the evening you know. They're here for three weeks."
" Oh."
"Need a fresh towel?"
"At your service Miss...." He bowed a deep bow and grinned until they were both laughing. Not a deep laugh on her part. She was still a bit red from the hot water.
"Next time it's my turn. You'll have to bring me breakfast."

She dressed and dusted the window sill for the current guests. It seemed from the marks, they were using the window sill as well. All types, all reasons, all seasons, some treason ...costly weekend affairs-emotions mainly, sometimes business travelers with their secretaries and silver briefcases preferring something ornate, the occasional husband and wife team in matching coats and some military folk as the base was nearby. There were parties on a quarterly basis. There would be one tonight. Annoying recruits who prefer french fries to foies gras hungry for more than canapes. The older gentlemen--they had medals she wondered about.

"I would ravish a martini right now," he gazed at her 'address me...' badge for a moment with a slight pause between ravish and martini. He had had a long day and just needed to rest his eyes on something other than a name tag. She felt completely undressed by his request. Clever man. He took the wind out of her. She hated clever men. She waded back to the kitchen with the pert tips of meringues stiffening on her tray. She was supposed to deliver them to table nine. Messed up her order already. Hand in the olive jar fumbling for.....oh. In a pickle over something clever to say in return, she opted for silence and the anonymous comfort of her maid's uniform. Giving it to him was another thing. His drink. Just a drink she needed to hand him, but she spilled it all over his lap. He didn't seem very happy about it either. "Can I speak to your manager please?"

The multitude of pinches, winks, and nods... And at evening's end, there was her apron jingling with the coins of gratitude given by industrious spenders hoping to lend her a bit more if she'd like. All had gone smoothly until the medallion man had dazzled her out of function mode. She hit the function key on the register. Hard to think what the manager would have to say.

It had to be enough for now working there. The middle of nowhere... why second guess a scenic place like this? There are mountains covered in snow just calendar: December. Moose heads in the dining hall, velvet furniture, masted beds, the turquoise lake, the plaque that reads..."the oldest hotel...." She had not yet been bored enough to read it. A rainy day perhaps. The boss hadn't tried to rape her either. How kind of him. Such a plus. This must be more nudity. No this must be normality. That's what I meant. Normality. There never is a day when it rains...reflexes. You can't change your reflexes. But naked interview at gunpoint. First things first. Something tiny slithered down though the cracks in the kitchen floor out of sight. An intelligent glitch in her memory...a complete blank, a paranormal host, a sonic scream. It took up a lot of room for a blank.

He couldn't keep away from her distress signal. Her old friend and neighbor had got her the job after many delayed knocks on his bosses door. Something evil wafting from the kitchen. He knew she needed a change...he knocked harder. He was almost jealous of the ease in which she was hired once they had seen her photo. He had a proper degree in cooking. She had...well. She'd always been pretty. The deep yellow sash that makes the gold star a ribbon. An award for your silence. The silence as she walks down the road. As if there is something to say after all that. He slapped himself for that flash of envy which was so misplaced.

The man with the drink now in his lap had a quiet conversation with the manager. Who is that ridiculous girl? She doesn't know the first thing about serving. He made sure she would be off work the following night. The manager agreed--a few private lessons wouldn't go amiss.

She wasn't sure of the protocol for misdemeanors and drink spills. It hadn't been addressed. Her interview had been brief...a phone call in fact as the hotel was so desolately remote. Apparently, she was expected to go to the guest's room and apologize privately. How very five star. Room 312. And take the night off. Off? All night for an apology? A night long apology. Something told her she should shower first...or should she be packing?

Choose a shade of lipstick. Not too red. Not too inviting. No. This is just an apology. I still have my job. What am I doing? She bit her lip and knocked. He opened the door. I was hoping to give you a few lessons on how to serve a man a drink. Knowing how clumsy you are, it might take a while.
"Yes sir."
She looked away as he fingered her name tag. He placed it on the table. You won't be needing this.

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