“I’m sorry sir, we were expecting you at 3pm” The concierge tells me.
“And you are getting me at 9pm. What of it?” I ask.
“Will you be staying alone, sir?” He asks me, glancing at her. It was quick enough not to be creepy but long enough to make sure I understand what he meant.
“That’s what I said” I reply, holding the stare.
“Very well, then. Here is your key card, sir. Thank you for being a member. Enjoy your stay!”
“Thanks.” I said, lugging the luggage behind me.
“Let me help you with that sir” A bellboy runs towards me.
“No, it’s quite alright. I am used to carrying my own luggage. Thanks!”
“Sir Please! Allow me” He insists.
“Okay. If you want to” I say and drop the trolley behind to be brought by him.
“Come!” I tell her. She follows.
“This room isn’t bad” She said, inspecting the room as I sat there untying my shoelaces.
I watch her looking at me from the corner of my eye. The subtle hint of my head turning in her direction makes her avert that gaze. She pretends to be interested in the curtains.
“What you wanna do?” I ask her.
“I’m hungry. You wanna eat?”
“Anywhere. Room service? We can watch a movie”
“Are you here to watch a movie?”
“Well then. Let’s go out”
“Okay” She agrees, disappointed. “It’s just that I’ve had a long day”
“Hmm. You wanna stay in, then?”
She thinks for a while and says “No. Let’s go”
“A table for two, sir?”
I glance around the hall. On the far-right corner, I see a gentleman swirling his wine, looking intently at the glass as if it was the love of his life. The only moment he can spare for himself, he decides to share it with that bottle - the only happiness in his solitary recluse. On my immediate left, there is a couple who are about done with their meal. There is no one else in the restaurant apart from the waiters and us. I look at her and find her looking in my direction, a little annoyed not having addressed the waiter’s query.
“Yes, as I said” I reply, staring at a nearby table which said RESERVED.
“Please come” He proceeds to the same table, removing the RESERVED tag. “It was reserved specially for you.”
“Sure. Why not” I reply, taking the chair. He smirks.
“What would you like to have, sir?”
“The menu, if you’d be so kind”
“Certainly, sir. Certainly”
She looks at me. “Why do you have to be so rude?”
“I thought I carried myself impeccably. Which part was rude?”
“I don’t know. Every part?”
The waiter arrives with the menus. He hands the food menu to me and keeps the drinks menu aside. She looks at him menacingly as she picks up the drinks menu and searches for something to her liking.
“Veg Lasagna, Chicken Risotto” I declare, ordering for the both of us.
She playfully decides “I wanna have a Cinderella”
I look at her. She blushes.
“A Cinderella for the lady and water for me”
“Nothing sir. Coming right up!”
As he goes towards the kitchen, she looks at me and says. “I don’t like him. He is rude”
“I know babe. Chill”
“I think I am a little tipsy” She says and grabs my hand for support as we walk towards the room.
“You do know there wasn’t any alcohol in it, right?”
“It was a mocktail, dumbass!” She retorts, clutching my arm fiercely.
“Well, if you say so”
After thinking for awhile “Oh! Back then when you… when you went to the loo…”
“I never went to the loo”
“Where did you go then?”
“To the barkeep”
She lets go of my arm, pushes me as I laugh and crosses her arms, walking in a straight line all by herself visibly restless.
“Look at you, all smug. Fuck you!”
I laugh aloud. As we reach the room and I try to open the lock, she pushes me again. I bang my head on the door.
“Oh! Sorry! Sorry! Did it hurt? I’m sorry!”
“Yes! Fuck” I rub my head as I sit on the carpet, throwing the key card nearby.
“I’m so sorry” She is worried. She thinks she hurt me. “Show me. Show me your head”
I notice an old man exiting from the adjacent room. She pays him no mind, still concerned with my head. I blurt out laughing ”You thought you were high! Hahahaha!”
Her expression turns to anger. She kicks my shoulder, grabs the key card, gets in the room and locks it behind her.
“Hahaha! Open the fucking door. It’s my room”
“FUCK OFF” Comes the response. I get out of breath as I collapse on the floor with laughter.
The old man passes by me, giving me a puzzled look.
“Fuck. It’s hot” I get up to turn the AC down to 18. As I come back she snuggles around me.
“Was there ever a time? For us?”
“I don’t know”
“In the past?”
“I don’t know”
“Was there nothing between you and me?”
I don’t answer. She stays silent. A minute goes by.
“I don’t want anyone to know what happened here” She says.
“No one will know. Not from me”
“Nothing should ever leave this room”
“It never will” I say as she reaches my mouth. I lock my lips around hers to prevent her from saying anything more. I turn towards her, reach out to her back and unclasp the bra buckle. She laughs.
“That was very smooth. How much practice have you had”
“Not the time” I move down to her neck, “or the place”
I hear the intercom ringing. I stop the shower. It rings again.
“Pick up the damn phone! It’s the wake-up call I scheduled!” I shout.
“No!” She answers sleepily.
“PICK IT UP!”
“NO! They will know I’m still here” She shouts back, somewhat awake now.
“SHUT UP and answer! NO ONE CARES!”
“For Fuck’s sake!”
I get out of the shower. I watch her burying deeper into the bed as if that would stop the ringing.
I pick up the phone.
“Yes, I’m awake” I blurt out in the microphone and proceed to hang up.
“Beta uth gaya?” (Son, are you awake?)
My heart skips a beat. And then a couple more.
“Beta?” (Son?) My mom’s voice repeats.
“Mom? How did you get this number?”
“I was worried that you will miss your appointment as you weren’t picking up your phone! So I called the hotel and asked them to connect to you. They obliged.”
“Yes Mom! I’m awake. Thanks!”
“Bye beta!” (Bye son!)
I turn and look at her. She is petrified.
“What if!” She says.
“Let your what ifs rest. Nothing happened. You aren’t touching this phone at all now. Go back to sleep”
I try to calm my nerves as I get back in the shower. A close call. I turn the temperature up. The shower lets out steam. A close fucking call.
I come out of the bathroom and look around. She is standing near the window, looking out. Her silhouette visible against the bright morning sky. I walk towards her.
“What?” I ask.
“The view is beautiful”
“And so are you”
I grab her from behind, kiss her on the neck. Her breasts heave. I knew I was going to be late for the appointment.
“NO! I don’t want to get the room cleaned. Get lost!” She shouted.
“I’m sorry Mam, I have to insist” I reply, loudly. “You definitely need some cleaning after last night”
I hear her gasp as she quickly gets on her feet and hurries towards the door. She opens it, angrily pulls me inside the room and closes it with a bang, glaring all the while. She is wearing one of my t-shirts.
“Idiot!” She said, infuriated.
I kiss her on the lips. She pushes me and proceeds to bury herself in the safety of the ruffled bed covers. I watch her as she snuggles with a pillow and tries to go back to her slumber. I watch her fail at this.
“What are you still doing here? Weren’t you supposed to be in the office?”
“I took the day off”
“What about your boss? You said yesterday he’d be angry if you didn’t turn up today”
“He can fuck himself”
“So, you raided my suitcase?”
“Shut up. Let me sleep” She smiles.
I lock the door, drop my clothes and get on the bed beside her. I wrestle the pillow free from her grasp and take its place. She buries herself in my arms.
“Nothing should ever leave this room, ever” She looks up at me and repeats.
A knock on the door.
“WHAT?” I call out.
“Sir, it’s your food”
“God dammit. WAIT”
I wrap myself around in a sheet as she hides herself in between the covers. I open the gate, the same waiter from the previous night strolls in with a huge trolley.
“Here is your food and drinks: Soda for you and pineapple juice for... the lady” He says gesturing towards the bed. I look in that direction. Her attempts to hide herself had left her hair bare: completely visible at the first glance. I watch her nestle nervously in the bed - clearly caught off guard. I die with laughter.
“Thanks!” I reply to the waiter, suppressing tears as I sign his receipt. He is amused.
When he is gone, she gets out of the bed and jumps on me like an angry cat.
“You will die today!” She shrieks, clawing my neck as I fall back spilling the soda and juice all over the floor.
The intercom rings. I pick it up.
“Sir I apologize but I have to insist that we are fully booked for today and our check out time is 12”
“The concierge said yesterday that I will be allowed a late check out by 2”
“Sir, it was me who told you that, but...”
“It is already 4 sir. I’m sorry”
“Oh! Shit. I have to leave for the airport. Fuck. Call me a cab, I’ll be down in 10”
“Sure sir. Thank you”
I look at her. She is still holding me firmly unwilling to let go.
“Time to go” I tell her.
“I don’t wanna leave this room”
“C’mon get up”
“I have to. I’ll miss the flight”
She loosens her grip. I get out of the bed, start grabbing all the shit I can see and throwing it in the suitcase.
As I tie my shoelaces, I look at her. She is ready. She looks at me for the last time and starts walking towards the door.
“Wait for me!” I call out.
“Nothing should ever leave this room” She exits, closing the door.
What’s wrong with her?!
“WAIT!” I yell loudly. I grab my wallet from the table and proceed to get my phone from the sofa.
Where is it? Of course the fucker isn’t anywhere.
I start searching hurriedly, finally find it in one of the crevices - fucking phone gobblers. I hurry out, dragging my suitcase behind. I open the door, look in the gallery - she is nowhere.
What the fuck?!
I move swiftly towards the elevator. Press the button. Look around again, just to make sure - nowhere.
I get out in the lobby, proceed towards the concierge and notice the guy from yesterday is still here.
How long a shift do these guys have?!
“Check out for 619” I say as I look around - nowhere.
“Certainly sir. If I may, you key card?”
“Fuck. I left it in the room” I try to get a view of the road - nowhere.
“No problem sir. If you may sign here, here and here. The final bill is...”
“Yeah yeah. I don’t care. Be fast, will you?” I hand over the card, looking at him accusingly and turn towards the restaurant to get a peek inside - nowhere.
“Certainly sir” He proceed with the formalities, visibly annoyed.
Finally, I ask him “Have you seen her?”
“Seen who, sir?”
“Oh C’mon! She was with me last night”
“I’m sorry sir?”
I spot the waiter passing by; the same one who had attended me yesterday for dinner and today, for lunch.
“HEY YOU!” I call out and hurry towards him. He stops midway.
“Is there a problem sir?”
“Where is she? Have you seen her?”
“You know who”
“YES! Have you seen her?”
“Of course, sir” He winks as he smiles and gets back to walking in his previous direction.
What the fuck is going on? Where IS she!
“SIR!” The doorman calls.
“WHAT?” I retort.
“Your cab is here, sir”
I walk towards the exit, my head throbbing. He takes my suitcase, loads it in the boot and opens the cab door for me, waiting. I get in when it strikes me:
This is the same guy from last night. He must know!
“Have you seen the girl I came with yesterday?”
He glowers at me. As he closes the door, he mutters:
“You came in alone, sir.”