Friday, March 13, 2009

The Stamford

[Fiction] Friday Challenge for March 13, 2009:

During the third night out of town, a travelling businessman discovers a voodoo doll in his hotel room.

Her voice trilled in his head as he rode up the elevator and his face loosened into a smile. There was a definite musical quality to the upward inflection when she was speaking to him. A tinkling if one listened hard enough. Yes – he decided that was the case after being unsure on his other visits.

The classical music seeped into his thoughts as the elevator rose from the ground floor. It reminded him of the Crowded House lyric: “I don’t know what tune that the orchestra plays, but I find it sickly sentimental” and this place was stifled with a romantic ambience of a bygone era. It could easily have gone with something chic and post modern minimalist. And the elevator muzac said it all. Cloyed, last century.

Why bother build something new if you just want to emulate the old?

He’d always wanted to hack into the hotel mainframe and reprogram the elevator music to something inappropriate for a high class establishment such as The Stamford. The Sex Pistols. The Living End. Nine Inch Nails. He’d lie awake at night stretched out fully clothes on the King bed, trying top his previous mental suggestions. Imagining the outraged looks of sixty year old business women when confronted with the invitation of being fucked like an animal.

He grinned a twisted smile and watched the numbers above the doors light up one after another.

Ahh – but Katrina.

He’d observed her conducting business with other guests and noted that only with him, was there a flirtatious underpinning of her uber professional but friendly demeanour. Only a consummate professional such as himself would note the subtle shift, the slight voice modulation and the thinnest of sheens on her brow. She would gently rub at the same right hand side point of her jaw bone when she processed his booking and asked him to sign the credit card. An almost unperceivable tremor of her hand when her manicured hand brushed against his.

Once, arriving late and alone with her in the foyer she’d gambled on asking him for his business card … a slow creeping rose hue spreading across the upper reaches of her elegant cheek bones. Without missing a beat she’d qualified that it was to put on file – obviously. He’d played along, reaching into the breast pocket of his suit coat, then wallet, coming up empty handed – then asking her if company policy allowed employees to join guests for an after work drink. He knew full well it didn’t, otherwise he would never have asked. She’d never mentioned that night but always singled him out for special treatment, as a ‘high rotation guest’, despite the fact he would never qualify as such.

As the elevator doors slid open, with a style and grace that could only be afforded to a mechanical process within somewhere like the Stamford, he stepped out, inhaled and smiled. Clean and with the lingering scent of honey suckle. No harsh cleaning chemicals here or cheap air fresheners that made him sneeze.

He had to admit, as he swept the keycard through the lock and entered the spacious room on the 21st floor that Katrina was the lure that kept him paying outrageous nightly charges here. It went against standard operating procedure to stay in the same place more than once. Dangerous. This was his sixth visit in the last two years.

A city like Brisbane afforded plenty of places for an itinerant to stay. To be just another businessman passing through. If anyone ever asked questions he was sure that Katrina would know the correct thing to say. That’s what he told himself anyway.

He looked forward to the rush of blood, when he caught sight of Katrina behind the huge oak concierge desk, especially when she was in profile with her strawberry blonde hair twisted into a French roll, exposing the length of her alabaster neck. But it wasn’t really Katrina that he wanted. Why he continued to torture himself he had no idea. Katrina was really just a poor substitute that could never be completely or perfectly replicated.

Placing the retro leather overnight bed at the foot of the bed he pulled a pair of soft leather gloves from his pocket and made a sweep of the room. With meticulous and careful attention he ran his fingers over every surface, including opening the toilet cistern. One could never be too careful. Just tearing the drawer open as housekeeping probably had, would shown just the Gideons.

His fingers grazed the small lump of material, pushed up the back of the top drawer of the bedside unit – in behind Gideons.

That made him laugh. He imagined the person who placed it there had a similar wry sense of humour as his own.

Gideon’s try to squirm away from the thing but locked within the four walls of the drawer, wanting to emancipate itself from the taint of voodoo that was brushing against it. Infection and poisoning the good word.

Obviously he was not the only person to have stayed in the room with an interest in pest control. He picked up the voodoo doll and took it over to the window, casting a look out over the river before turning his attention to the doll now he had better light.

It was one of the better made ones that he had seen. Each long, honey brown strand of hair had been sewn individually into the scalp of the doll. He gave up counting after 50. Meticulous and in no hurry. The doll had a full head of hair. Pressing at top of each hand he could feel a nail clipping. The feet were the same. Whoever made it knew exactly what they were doing.

Perusing what was on offer in the mini bar, he was thankful that he chose to come here. The scotch was always good and it meant that he didn’t have to seek out a bottle shop. And the little voodoo doll. It seemed to bless this assignment – if he allowed himself a moment of superstitious hypocrisy.

It lay beside the condensating glass on the table – looking both evil and beautiful in the muted afternoon light. The ice cubes melted fast in the close humidity and he drank faster than he would normally.

After two scotches he sighed, feeling at peace with the world. He hauled his feet, still in their expensive leather shoes onto the outdoor table resting them beside the doll.

A storm was building in the West. Another good omen – not that he was in the business of counting signs from a God he didn’t believe in. He made a mental bet with himself at what time the first rain drop would fall. It was a bet he never lost.

He loved strolling through the streets when the storms broke here and was glad that he’d been assigned to the Easter Seaboard Clean Up. The Autumn rain here was preferable to the Spring rain in St Petersberg. Plus Brisbane had one other advantage that no other city in the world had.


Maybe this time synchronicity would bring her back into his life. But he’d been hoping that for the past ten years.

This is a pre-story to something that I've been in the process of writing for almost a year. A short story based on the Liam Finn song Second Chance.

For more Fiction Friday fun check out the other entries at Write Anything.


James Ashelford said...

If this is the preamble to the main story I greatly look forward to reading the full piece. I especially liked the use of sound imagery in the opening paragraphs, it set the tone of the Stamford wonderfully.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! This left me intrigued and wanting more!!!

Annie Evett said...

oh dear - teh thought of the sex pistols in the elevator.... loveit.. wonder hwo we could engineer that???

Once agian - wonderful imagery and excellent charactersiation

rosey said...

This is great stuff. You've set the scene for a great story - I hope I get to read more.

James Ashelford said...

Just wanted to drop you a note thanking you for the feedback you left on my FF submission, you made some great points. Thank you very much.