By Fran Slater
Association: The line ‘fist-sized holes in the plaster’ in Budget Family Room.
The holes in the wall get me thinking. They look as if they were made in a rage, fists so fast they didn’t feel the blood until it was pouring.
I phoned her from the lobby like it said to on the card. She said to take the stairs because of the cameras in the lifts. Six flights of green metal, my hands on the banisters. Already sweating when I reached the top.
She was very specific. Room 669, the seventh floor, walk past the table with the cacti and take a right. Don’t even look at what is happening in room 660. They always leave the door open, and the sight can’t be washed from your eyes. Not without something way stronger than soap anyway.
But the girl isn’t here and the room smells like the last couple just left. Armpits and market stall perfume. If I’m paying, why’s she the boss?
A squeal down the hall could be death or pleasure. I came for the latter but now wish I hadn’t. Wish I’d gone home, seen Mary, sat and watched the television without a word until the one with the least willpower got up and said goodnight. If I bought her flowers, maybe we’d go skinny dipping in the hot tub like we used to. I’d pick leaves out of her hair when they fell from the apple tree.
The room seems lived in. Stains on the carpet. A paper on the table. Postcards tacked to the walls from cities I’ve never seen. Cities Mary and me always said we’d go to. Cities I’ve seen in my dreams. I wonder if someone comes here at night, after fifteen or twenty men have had their fun in the bed, and slips under the cover, cuddles their pillow and sleeps.
If the girl turned up now, there’d be no way I could do what I came here for.
I check in my wallet and see four twenties and two tens. I stand to go. On the headboard I notice a circular blob of dried blood, with dots of the same deep red around it.
My wife doesn’t talk to me or fuck me but she makes a wicked lasagne. I could be home now, eating meat and melted cheese.
The door was unlocked when I came in. Now, when I try to push the silver handle down it won’t budge. I shake it twat it bend it, but it’s stuck still.
My face is sweating, my glasses slipping from my nose. Ten deep breaths and a walk to the window. Seven floors up. I couldn’t escape even if the window wasn’t stuck shut with masking tape from the outside.
I hear a giggle near the door and I run and smack my knuckles on the wood. Knocking on a door to be let out. A new one on me. The giggle fades into the distance.
Sitting on the bed. Deep breaths aren’t working. Hands are shaking. Counting. One two three. One two three. One two three. I won’t look at the blood on the bed.
A knock at the door. The girl must be here. My pulse slows as the door handle squeaks and the bottom of the door makes a scraping noise on the carpet. I stand up to meet her, clammy palm outstretched for a shake. But she isn’t a beautiful young lady; she’s a six foot man with bright green eyes and a pair of pliers in his left hand.
Fran Slater is a Manchester Creative Writing student, just finding his way into the weird and wonderful world of literature in Manchester.