The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
A Hotel of Many Rooms
by Marge Simon
I am a hotel of many rooms. Each one is a living cell. I play host to many travelers. They recognize my breath beneath the spray that masks the decades. For every window,
I have three curtains. The outer one is for privacy. The other two secure the dark from light. My floors are tiled as white as baby teeth. My beds wear brocade to hide their single sheets. I am impeccably clean.
The salesman on my top floor is in his fifties. He’s told his wife he’s here for a convention. She can’t reach him here. No one can. Not his boss, who is young enough to be his son. Not his son, who calls when he wants money. His wife doesn’t want him coming home without notice. His boss told him he was being let go. His boss doesn’t lie. I provide a haven for privacy. I give him the privilege of a sturdy shower rod. I know what a man can do with his own belt.
This isn’t the same room,” she says. “This is the fourth floor. You promised it would be the same we had on our wedding night.”
“So?” he says, hanging up his coat.
“So nothing.” She sighs, taking off her shoes. They match her eyes, her dress.
“Did you bring the wine?” he asks.
She nods, points to the carry-all. “Let’s open it!”
“Before dinner? Don’t you want to wait?”
“I’m not hungry. Really.”
“If that’s the way you want it, fine. Happy anniversary.” He drains his glass and pours another. Lies back on the bed, eyes closed. She stands looking out my window. Then draws my curtains.
The young man on my top floor is from Ethiopia. He has taken off his clothes. His back and shoulders are covered with tattoos of American rock stars. The television is tuned on MTV. He struts up and down playing the air guitar.
The phone rings. It’s his girlfriend in England. He doesn’t tell her when he’s coming home. Or that his next stop is Los Angeles, where he plans to join a rock band. They don’t talk long. Her crying makes him nervous. He goes back to miming a guitar.
A young couple stands at my front desk. They have no luggage. The young man raises his voice.
“But we have reservations! I made them two days ago.”
“We have nothing here under your name, sir. We’re full tonight. Perhaps you might try the hotel down the street?”
“Harry,” says the young woman. “Harry, never mind.”
“We don’t want another motel.”
The clerk scratched his ear.“Well, I do have one room. Ground level. Not up to standard, but if you–”
The young woman squeezes his hand. “We’ll take it,” he says.
“The guy wasn’t kidding,” says the young man. “This is a dump.” He puts his arms around the woman. “Honey, I’m sorry…”
“Close your eyes. Pretend it’s a palace. That’s what I’m doing.”
“All right, anything you say,” he laughs. “This isn’t exactly how I’d planned our first night together. I don’t know if I can–”
“If you can what?” she says. She opens his collar, kisses his chest. “Leave that to me. Turn off the light.”
Later, they stand at my window looking out at the night. “Shall I close the curtains?” he whispers.
She smiles up at him. “But there’s a full moon! Leave them open.”
Fiction © Copyright Marge Simon
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Marge Simon:
The title of this collection sets you up for the surprise of lyrical stories of victimizations with unexpected endings for the villains. Be ready to have your heart opened and cheer for perceived victims, human (made and unmade) and other life forms, victorious in the hands of these two award-winning poets. —Linda D. Addison, award-winning author, HWA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and SFPA Grand Master.
Across histories and cultures and from Auschwitz to Babylon this book leaves you questioning who are the victims, and regardless of your conclusion you’re likely to get throat-punched. This is horror where everyone has a knife, and is ready to deliver this message: “Remember, you are always guilty. —Herb Kauderer, author of Fragments from the Book of the After-Dead.
Simon and Turzillo have only gone and startled me again. What a collection! Brutal. Beautiful. This quiver of poems strikes with the unflinching truth of persecution and oppression as seen through the lens of feminism. Prepare to come away bruised and yet strangely bolstered by Victims, a symphony of sadness orchestrated by two masters of dark poetry. —Lee Murray, Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Award-winner.
This is one of the braver dark poetry collections I’ve seen in a while. Horror poets generally employ victims in their work, but the focus is generally on the Evil. Turning the camera the other way is unusual, unsettling, emotionally risky, and surprisingly effective. From their stark opening take on Pygmalion, to the ending poem about the wasted life of Stateira of Persia, this powerful collection teases apart an impressive number of the threads of victimhood. Some are the usual cases, but quite a few are surprises, or reversals, or cases with unexpected layers. There is nothing repetitive about this collection. —Timons Esaias, winner of the Asimov’s Readers’ Award and the Winter Anthology Contest
I love this – it’s so dark and intriguing – worthy of its own mini-series