Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Pigeons Return to Death Hotel

There’s the hotel full of crazies. The manager is finding it hard to keep everything running smoothly, and, when no one is looking, he likes to slip into his office and slide open the middle drawer of the desk. Inside, where the catering bills are starting to collect, he hides a bottle with just enough in it to keep the edges smooth.

He has to keep an eye on all corners of the hotel, and, even though he shouldn’t go there, explore all of the personalities he’s hired so that he can coax them into productivity.

There’s the cleaning team. They have to make sure that things don’t pile up and become offensive. They must be trusted, as they methodically enter each room and rearrange it the way it would appear on the website. They can’t mess with the guest’s belongings, so there’s faith involved.

Without them, the hotel would, in all probability, collapse.

There are the guides: The bellhops who move things around, from the entrance to the top floor. They like tips, but they’re also proud of the way they can “fix” things. Someone has to know which corners can be cut, and what the fastest and most cost-effective ways are for getting from A to Z.

The guests? They aren’t meant to be around permanently. There’s a rhythm to their arrival and departure, and a certain amount of predictability in their activities. Every now and then, a rock band will blow in like a tornado and leave a trail of broken furniture to replace, and, occasionally, there will be someone who arrives depressed, drinks too much from the mini-bar and needs to be coaxed back from a window ledge, but, for the most part, there is order.

Business people breeze in with a lack of interest in the surroundings. Just looking for a place to recharge themselves and their gadgets.

Lovers leave a tangible haze in their wake- a cloud of perfumes and the smells of lovemaking- the drooping heads of red roses nodding over emptied champagne buckets.

Occasionally, a disgraced husband will arrive, his red eyes and thousand-yard stare gazing into a future of weekend-parenting and mounting lawyer’s bills.

There are conventions. Industrial equipment salesmen and their clients. Book publishers and their newest titles, billed as best-sellers before they’ve even hit the shelves. Once, the manager even accepted a group of people, mostly in their twenties, who swore that the science fiction novels of a particular author formed sufficient foundation for a lifestyle. The lifestyle appeared to encourage long black coats and poorly-managed facial hair growth.

The manager doesn’t mind. He likes to have something new going on all the time. He enjoys that he directs life here; that he has harnessed the predictability of hotel life.

His biggest fear is the lifts. They're designed to keep everything moving. The music he has piped into them is unbearable for anything more than the two minute’s duration of the trip, and that’s what he expects. In. Out. Up. Down. Nobody on earth wants to be stuck in a lift for even a few minutes. He makes sure to have them regularly maintained.

In one of the rooms there is a stain. A stain so deeply ingrained that he’d had to order a kilim from one of the passing salesmen to cover it up. A stain which tells a story of bad decisions and worse consequences. Fortunately, though, few people ask for that room, as it looks out over the local bar, and the unrelenting neon advertisements and driving rock music make potential guests ask for a different suite almost immediately.

He’d had babies born there, brides deflowered and even one or two deaths. Unanswered knocks on the door leading to the disappointing discovery of the ends of lives. One, a sleeping pill overdose, another, a man who had enjoyed sleeping so much, that he’d chosen it for eternity. Death wasn’t as terrible as it seemed. Discreet paramedics slipped the bodies into the servant’s elevator, and then the cleaning teams simply changed the mattress and sheets.

The manager prided himself on his decisiveness: He couldn’t afford to dither over minor details, and yet, his decision-making miraculously seemed to pay attention even to these.

Sometimes, when he is hiding in his office, the grating lid of the bottle twisting in his hand, he liked to read his own motto that he’d made into a sign. He’d printed it out, laminated it, and stuck it behind his own desk:

“If you’re just sitting on the fence, stand up. You’re bound to fall one way or the other.”

Then he’d laugh a little to himself, as he imagined teetering and toppling into the unknown. As if that would ever happen to him.

* * *

And so it went on, year after year. On the roof, the pigeons nested, cooing as they strutted about the concrete. Their droppings built up over the top of the lift shaft, paste and then dust, slowly eroding the aging rivets. No one could see them up there, but their presence would, in the end, inspire a spectacular end to the manager, the hotel, and several of the guests.


  1. Hahahaha, I was really getting into this guys life, didn't see that ending coming!! :D

  2. Hi S,

    The Story Mint is looking for another two writers to book chapters on the new serial. Would you like to give it a go?


  3. Thanks, Sumanda, I'll take a look!


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