How has it been over a year since my last post? I don’t really know. Summer is easy to account for, as this gentle little island is suddenly alive with seekers of sun, sea, peace, and quiet. Faces both old and new come and join in with yoga classes, or take a massage between swims.
Whenever possible I have been writing short stories. I even had two published last year in web publications. Rather pleased, I must say. Many more of course are/were returned to sender, but I (try to) find it equally rewarding when I receive an honest rejection critique from the publication. When writing one gets so inside the minutia of the piece that it’s difficult to read or listen to it objectively, as when you read other’s work for the first time. I think the advice to put it away for a few months before a final edit is great advice that I should act on, but not so practical in the short story world of comps and deadlines, of which there are so many opportunities and openings, it’s all too exciting to wait. There’s lots of great new writing available on-line to read as well! (Birds Thumb, longstoryshort, Red Line, Storgy to name but a few)
So, to strive onwards…and up.
I’m going to share some of my pieces here on the blog, starting today.
If you have time, have a gander. Let me know what you think.
Until next time,
The photo is one of Bibi’s, walking in early Spring.
Nightporter (a short story)
Multiple black and white screens discreetly line the bureau in the hotel foyer that has been my home from home for these past five years. I work a twelve-hour shift, six nights a week. There’s a mandatory two weeks off each summer, a holiday that I neither want or need, as I end up doing diddly-squat – except gain a couple of pounds and watch too much daytime TV. So I’m first volunteer to work Christmas, and all the other designated times of joy and frivolity, if only to spare me from a similar fate.
It’s 2 a.m., and glancing down at the register, the little drunk guy that’s stumbling into the elevator suggests the possibility that I may have a quiet night ahead of me. I’ll watch him safely to his room. He’s mumbling away to himself, or he could be singing. He jabs a thumb into the button for the fourth floor, turns around, and spies himself in the reflective aluminium that covers the back wall. He looks surprised, and somewhat shocked by what looks back at him, he’s frantically trying to make sense of his bedraggled appearance. He licks his fingers a few times till moist, and runs them through his thinning hair, gluing it to the side, probably just like he fixed it earlier. His necktie has become loose over the evening to the point of just about hanging in there, and both his shirt and suit display the crumpled evidence of a good night out. They get a perfunctory brushing down from his stubby hands, but I think he’s given up on the tie, maybe even on himself. The elevator stops and he makes good his escape. He’s still chuntering away, and given the way his legs seem uncooperative of his want, I’m amazed that he navigates his way safely into his room without a stumble. I’m left pondering as to whether he’ll hit the minibar for a nightcap, or if he’ll even bother getting the suit off before he hits the sack, and if he’ll be smiling, or crying himself to sleep. But knowing he’s safely inside, and out of view, I turn away from the screens. A double check on the register confirms that by my reckoning, all of the guests are now present and correct. But I never expect it to be so easy, and it rarely is.
I usually get a little shut-eye between the quieter hours of 3 and 6, out back, in the storage room. There’s an ugly old armchair in there, it’s shabby, has a faded green cloth that’s been impregnated over the years with flicked ash and spilt whisky. It’s probably a relic from the 70’s, but a couple of cushions and a wool blanket make it nice enough, even for all of my six-feet-two. I have to let my legs hang over the side for it to work, but it’s a welcome relief from the awkward office chair out front. I’m kinda tall, like I said, I suppose that’s the first thing you’d notice about me, and then if you look close enough, it would be my eyes, they’re blue, azure, but a translucent blue, so you can see right through them like the way oceans used to be. They’re not so strange where I come from, but I can tell people’s fascination in them by the way they sneak a furtive look at me when not wanting to. None of us can help it, even though we know for sure that they know, so when I meet their gaze, some people fire off some pleasantry or other, though most people just crack a sheepish smile, and feeling a rushing surge of guilt, avert their gaze quickly away from mine.
For work I wear a cocoa coloured uniform over my cocoa coloured skin. I blend in as seamlessly with the wood-stain of the lobby floorboards as I do with the antique style chairs of the foyer, as I do with the ornate Georgian walnut cabinet that sits right behind me. It’s a huge cabinet, beautifully crafted, in whose pigeonholes live the 66 room-keys, ringed on the finest of calf-leather fobs and embossed with the hotel’s proud Black Cat logo – 66 keys, that will forever come, and go, and come back again. There’s all kind of mundanity put in there for guests to collect, and then there’s the secret things – the twice folded hand scrawled notes, the medicines, both the legal and il- varieties, the stapled jiffy bags bulging with who-knows-what. I’m pretty sure that one time I handed over something heavy and shaped like a handgun to a tattooed Japanese guy who had a finger missing. I never ask, not me, I figure it safer just to turn a blind eye.
Continue reading “One Year On”