a fiction short by Pasha Malla
([email]pasha [at] ekno [dot] com[/email])

[b]Rm #312 – Ludwig Van Beethoven[/b]
Mr. Beethoven checked in with only one piece of luggage, a leather- bound valise. He failed to tip either the doorman, or the bell boy. In the elevator he broke wind and blamed it on a child.

During his two-night stay, Mr. Beethoven amassed a substantial bill viewing pornographic films on pay-per-view television. Evidence of semen was found in the bedsheets, wastebasket, shower and bathroom sink. Upon departure he was heard to refer to the hotel as a “shithole” and refused to offer identification while paying by personal cheque.

But in the room where Mr. Beethoven stayed sound has changed. The door opens not with a creak, but the chirping of sparrows. The bathroom taps pour a desert wind. You speak and your voice comes out thunder.

[b]Rm #801 – female novelist[/b]
A certain prolific female novelist stayed recently for one night in Room 801. The novelist, who was listed in the registry under a pseudonym, mainly kept to herself, emerging only to use the ice machine and remark how pleased she was to “have a room of (her) own”.

The novelist was pleasant, but confrontational when it came to hotel policy. However, it should be noted that while she persistently questioned the necessity of specific check-out times, no one was at any point afraid of her.

One peculiarity has emerged from the novelist’s stay: Ms. Maria Jimenez, the chambermaid assigned to Room 801, has since been unable to tell stories. Ms. Jimenez, who has worked at the Sarnia Best Western for close to a decade, and is renowned among the hotel staff for her sense of humour and intriguing tales of “the old country”, has become plagued by the worry that each anecdote she recounts will only be a version of the memory of the last time she told it.

[b]Rm #609 – Tyco Brahe[/b]
Tyco Brahe was a delightful guest. He beguiled both staff and patrons alike with lectures on the cosmos. In the sauna, he was consistently the first one up to pour water on the rocks.

Mr. Brahe spent four nights at the Sarnia Best Western. He was cordial and clean. He tipped the chambermaids generously. He allowed the children of other guests to look through his telescope. Mr. Brahe did, however, become agitated when kept up by a fornicating couple in Room 607. He resorted at 2:14 a.m. to paging the front desk the concierge, while sympathetic, felt uncomfortable intervening.

The smell Mr. Brahe has left in Room 609 is queer. It is familiar. It is the smell of your own home or rather, that specific smell of other people’s homes you never assume your own to have, but of which you become suddenly aware only after returning from a lengthy vacation.

(Story first published in [url=http://www.opiummagazine.com/storymallawestern.html]Opium Magazine[/url])
(c)2003 Pasha Malla

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