Room #27

Ray dropped the bag on the floor. Stared at the empty room. Empty bed. Full… nope. Empty bar fridge. What sort of hotel didn’t even keep the fridge restocked. He sighed. An ache was already developing in his shoulder. Either something was telling him that that bed was not going to do him any good, or he was just getting old.

He tossed his keys and wallet at the side table. Dumped the coins on the bed. Then he slipped carefully out of his coat, careful not to wrinkle it, and hung it on the only hanger in the closet. Shirt, pants, and well-polished boots went the same way. He couldn’t take the scars off though.

At least there was hot water.

He turned both taps on full, let the water run for a few minutes. Steam filled the small hotel room, a mist of silver and grey. It burned his skin for a few moments. Then froze it. He chuckled. No more hot water then.

He grabbed a towel from the rack. Found some clothes from the bag and changed. The remote for the TV was on the bench in the kitchenette. He didn’t bother turning it on. He knew what they’d be playing.

Wondered if they had worked it all out yet.

Room service. Not the best option, but given the bar fridge was empty, he gave them a call anyway. Said they’d send someone out for pizza and beer. Ray didn’t think it was likely they would. He grabbed his phone.

No calls. Probably better than if there was one. He left it on anyway.

No balcony in this place. Just a single window, overlooking the open courtyard below. He kept the lights off. Moved the blinds to one side and glanced down. Nothing. The courtyard was empty. He didn’t know how he felt about that.

The phone buzzed. Silence. Buzzed again. He ignored it. Couldn’t be anything good. Left it on the bed and went back to the shower.

A trickle of lukewarm water. He found some shampoo in a little plastic container under the bathroom sink. Scrubbed the last of the sweat and dirt out of his hair. The dirt outlasted the warmth, but he stayed anyway, till the water left him shivering. He wrapped himself in the towel. Jogged a little on the spot to warm back up. He considered getting the phone from the bed. Might be good to know.

Someone knocked on the door.

The sun was gone now. The room seemed bigger in the darkness, lit only by the light of the corridor outside, seeping into the shadows from under the door. Ray moved quietly to the door, standing to the side it would open from. Pressed his back against the wall and pulled it open, letting it swing away from him. The light swarmed into the room, illuminating the edges of the half dozen pieces of furniture. Nothing else came through.

He stepped into the light.

“Pizza and beer, as requested,” the manager said.

The little man walked past into the room. Switched the lights on as he went. Ray grimaced, reached for the closest one.

“I wouldn’t bother. They’re running a story about the storm in Cuba.”

Ray watched him pick up the remote and switch on the TV. He was right. Twenty people dead. Another cell moving in from the east. The scrolling news bar mentioned the election; the storm; something about a new orphanage. Nothing about him. About what he’d done.

He slumped onto the edge of the bed. He wanted to feel relieved. Or satisfied. Or… something. Anything. The manager put four beers in the fridge. Passed one over, opened the last for himself. A little toast.

“Do svidaniya.”

They drank their beers, and then the manager left. Ray slipped down onto the floor, back pressed against the frame of the bed. Stared at the TV. Emptied the fridge, a bottle at a time. Somewhere between the third and fifth he remembered the phone. Reached for it. Two messages. Not a call. No one wanted to talk.

He reached for the pizza box, and flipped the lid open. Stared for a moment. Went back to the phone and read the messages. Both from unknown numbers.

You’ve won our weekly draw prize! Congratulations! Reply to this message to find out how to claim your winnings!

Room 27. 11pm.

He stared at the open pizza box. Only half a pizza. A silenced Glock beside it.

The TV kept running; 9:42 pm marked in the corner. All they talked about was Cuba. Nothing about a man in the woods, a hundred miles away.

Jim sighed. May as well eat. He put the pistol on the bed. He wouldn’t need it for an hour.

By Tom Wells. © 2012