Heartbreak in a Hovel

He was humiliated. He sat on the bed, room 203, wearing his coat, hands in the pockets, cheap Chinatown luggage packed and ready at the door.

That was 60 bucks he could not spare.

Goddamn bitch, Marie or Maria, whatever it was, didn’t matter now, she had spurned him. Bet she did it all the time, flirt with guests, get them all revved up, what a fucking tease. And here he was 60 bucks short, 60 bucks… goddamn it.

He was sure there had been signs, signs of interest. When he walked in that first day and she was still cleaning the room, she was so nervous, helpless looking, like God had caught a nun in the middle of a lascivious act. It was all calculated, he saw now. He wanted to comfort her, make her feel safe, he insisted she take a seat, he’d make her a cup of tea. She was so shy and anxious, he had to ardently persist. They didn’t talk much, but he could sense the energy in the room, their bodies were being electrified with the sexual tension, she was probably unfamiliar with the sensation, she couldn’t bear to look at him, she had a constant grin on her face, as she stared at the, admittedly still quite filthy, floor or into her stained mug. She finished her tea at a tremendous speed considering the temperature of the water. She made a hasty exit, poor thing, she must been all heated up and didn’t know what to make of it, he just wanted to hold her, like a trembling bird that had fallen out of its nest, and teach her how to fly.

The next day he left her a $20 tip, seeing as that was equal to the cost of the room, and the level of cleanliness in the room, he concluded that his intentions must be quite clear. He would play it cool today, he would make sure he was absent, but he left out a Forbes business magazine, he had found it in the lobby, and some holiday pics he happened to have on him, since he was in town visiting a friend. Hopefully she would determine that he was affluent but economic, that he could sacrifice comfort for temporary necessities, such as accommodation, in order to spend his money on more important things, such as leisure activities, the real juice of life.

He spent the day wandering around town. He had already fallen out with his friend since he had rather ungracefully asked him for a loan, rather, he insisted that he was owed this money for a past transgression his friend had committed. It had involved a woman who had inappropriately decided that the best way to break up with him was to sleep with his friend. An argument ensued about who really was at fault, it is surely easy enough to imagine how it transpired. Now he was left to aimlessly and frugally pass his time, since that $20 had been a large part of his daily allowance.

The next day he made sure he would return in time in order to catch her again, but after she discovered the tip, so as she wouldn’t be embarrassed. Their encounter played out similarly to the previous one, but she was more open and willing to engage in conversation, although it was still a staggered one. She continued to timidly avoid eye contact; he knew that he would have to be the one to make the move, to comfort this shaking little Chihuahua. He put his hand on her knee, “you’re really a pretty little thing, you know that?” She flinched; she must have felt the same surge of electricity that was rushing through his body. She managed to gurgle out that her supervisor would be annoyed if she didn’t finish the rooms in time and hurriedly escaped the room. That girl, she was begging for it, she only needed to be in tune with her own body’s desire. She must be so frightened and confused; he would guide her, like a duckling taking its first dip.

The next day he left her the usual tip, he was hoping that it wouldn’t have taken this long, he really couldn’t bear another day of cheap Chinese food, it gave him terrible indigestion, and loitering at the bookstore; he was already halfway through the latest Dean Koontz. This time he had enclosed the bill in a note:

My timid little mouse,

I must see you tonight,

meet me here at 7 pm,

El Lobo.

He was sure that she could not resist, even if she was scared, her bodily cravings would guide her to his door. With his last few dollars he bought some wine, she probably never drank, so would be unaware of the quality, and some other necessities, in hopes of the night going in the direction he was sure it must.

She did not show up, as no doubt could have been ascertained. No need to go into the anger and despair of the night prior, only that it resulted in there being a slight dent in the wall, only slight, and it was merely a recent addition to its already tarnished physique, the wine being drained, with the bottle disposed of in the street, luckily at such an hour that there was no risk of victims, and a racked up bill, that he would be unable to pay for, on some indiscreet channels.

He had resigned to the results of his latest misadventure, and got up to leave, with another sigh. It wasn’t easy always being the victim, but the universe would reward him eventually, isn’t that how it worked? As he opened the door a piece of paper fluttered down that had been jammed in the doorway. He nearly continued on, as was the dejected state he was in, but stopped, as a little butterfly of hope was roused in his chest when he happened to look down:

room 211

I’m waiting,

Le Tigre.

Impossible. Could it be? Shit like this never happened to him. He nearly raced there that instant in his excitement. Then reconsidered his state, he hadn’t paid much attention to his hygiene in the embittered mood he had been in that morning. He prepared himself; he luckily had a leftover cologne sample at his disposal. He didn’t expect he would feel so nervous; she had pulled the reins out of his hands, that sneaky little minx. He knocked at 211, then slowly opened the door. He was greeted with confusion and a scream, a woman in her mid-40’s had a moment ago been seductively positioned on the bed facing the door, naked, but now had shrouded herself in the blanket covering the bed.

“Who the fuck are you?”

“Sorry, I uh, got a note, sorry, I uh, misunderstanding, I’ll uh go….sorry.”

“Get the fuck out of here.”

He reached for the door in a daze.

“Wait, what room are you in?”

He continued to face the door, “203.”

“What the fuck, Mark told me he’d be here, room 203, Paul’s Motor Inn, I have it right here in his text. Jesus fucking Christ, I can’t believe he did this to me again, you’d think I’d learn my fucking lesson. That’s what you get for being the other women, let me tell you, you feel sorry for the wife, but she’s the one that’s in ignorant bliss, while I’m here getting stood up all the time, not good enough for him to leave that sorry sad sack for, instead I have to double as a marriage counselor, listening to him fucking complain about her all the time. Want my advice…

“Look, I uh, I have to go, sorry, you know… sorry.”

“Ya, ya, I’m used to it, if I had a dollar for every man who walked out on me, let me tell you.”

He stood immobile.

“Listen, you might as well join me for a drink, seeing as you’re here.”

He slowly turned; perhaps the universe was starting to pay back its dues.

Felipa knocked on the door of room 205, she poked her head in, “housekeeping.” She was always having to switch floors with poor Maria. She normally would have envied her, since she was jealous by nature, and Maria’s beauty far surpassed that of all the cleaning ladies there, but she was constantly being tormented by these creeps, such were their clientele. She knew the type of men that came to this hotel. There were those who would come for a night, or an hour more like, with certain type of woman, and then there were those who actually stayed in the hotel. Those who could not afford those certain type of woman, but were still horny as hell, and imagined a maid like Maria could be easily seduced. She spied $15 on the table, next to a crude portrait some desperate individual had done of Maria. If she had those looks she would be raking in the money, Maria needed to learn how to work her God given gift. Instead of working like a mule she could be living like a pampered cat. Felipa studied the room; it looked as if it had been through a torrent night of despicable undertakings. This place used to sicken her, but this turned into sadness, it wasn’t the job so much as the sorry soul’s she would encounter, or more often the results of their fraught affairs. She was now numb, she no longer had the energy to pity these people who didn’t have the dignity to even recognize the pathetic state they were in. She now spent her time feeling sorry for herself. She would probably have to work here an extra five years since her husband just died; lung cancer. She was determined that she could make him quit when they married, but it came with him, and she had to learn to accept that, now he was dead and she was here, another heartbreak. She pocketed the 15 bucks, another couple rooms like this and she could get that leopard print jacket she had been eyeing at the shop down the street. There was still Antony, the widower down the hall, he had always been friendly towards her, and she suspected he had a fairly good pension from his time at the factory, if they pooled their resources… That silly girl, Maria, doesn’t know how lucky she is, if I were her… She replaced the towels with some slightly less stained ones. Maybe I’ll convince her to switch floors more often, I could do with the extra cash…  silly little… A muted shrill scream reached Felipa’s weak ears. Holy mother of Christ, she crossed herself. What was it now? She hoped she wouldn’t have to miss her lunch break cleaning up some mess. She approached the door with dread, running a cloth along the dresser on the way. A man was running down the hall, pulling up his pants along the way, he was being screamed at by a woman wrapped in a holiday inn bathrobe, “You fucking pervert, what do you think I am, some whore, you’re a fucking disgusting pig, I’m going to report you, what did I do to deserve this huh?” She spotted Felipa, “quick, call the police, that weirdo exposed himself to me.”

Felipa turned and reentered 205, shaking her head. Anyone staying in this hole deserves what’s coming to them.

Maybe she’d make a nice chicken stew tonight, bring it over to Antony. He was always commenting how good the hall smelled from her cooking. She’d bring along that neglected bottle of wine she had found in room 114. She may not have Maria’s looks, but she still had the power of seduction.

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