Some dance to forget (Part 2)

Hotel California lyrics: here
Part 1: Here

Part two of a short story drawing inspiration from the lyrics of  the classic Eagles song:

I turned the key in the door of room 6. The nauseating carpet print continued into my chambers, where it met tired walls. I had expected mirrored ceilings and tacky decor, but was pleasantly surprised. A simple and typical set up; double bed adorned in less than promising bedding, uncluttered desk, bedside table and lamp, an outdated television, floor to ceiling blackout curtains across the one window and a small bathroom. All the necessities and nothing fancy.  I lay my duffle down and fell onto the bed; it creaked and I sighed. My coworkers were out forgetting their troubles and I was trapped in this room alone with only my troubles to think about.

I set my keys, wallet, and phone in the draw of the bedside table. Between them and the customary hotel bible, which was still wrapped in the plastic it had been purchased in, I set my wedding ring. I thought of Miriam and tried to remember if I still loved her. I had left for the conference mid fight, but it didn’t feel bad. Most times were “mid-fight” now. Just the way things were.

From the drawer I drew the TV remote. On/off and channel or volume up/down were my only options. With a press of the red button the TV hummed to life. No guide button, no channel map. The default channel was all static so I clicked to the next. I didn’t recognize the show but I couldn’t help but notice the kitchen being portrayed in black and white looked very much like that of the house I had grown up in, and that the woman in front of the stove with her back to the camera looked very much like that of my mother. My own mother had passed away from cancer when I was still in grade school. Not wanting to spend an already depressing night being reminded of old sorrows, I flipped to the next channel. Looked like some kids sports movie; a bunch of little boys on a softball field. The less-than-encouraging shouts of an angry father could be heard from the bleachers as a young man went up to bat. Again, next channel; I didn’t want to think of fathers either. Were there no news or sports channels out here? A woman in a hospital room, some maternity show. A doctor shaking his head in the foreground. The woman on the hospital bed was out of focus, but crying. Her frame looked like that of my Miriam. Like strikingly so. Eerily so. Quickly, next channel. A couple fighting, shouting, glass bottle breaking on the floor, a door slamming. Too close to home, next channel. A soap opera-y set with an alluring blonde speaking, presumably to some lover. The camera panned out to show the back the man. He had my build, my hair line. Suddenly that channel too went to fuzz. I flipped backward and forward; where the other shows had been there was now nothing but hissing black and white specks. I threw the remote to the floor, in both anger and fear. Nothing good on anyway.

I picked up the phone and dialed the front desk. “Tiffany? It’s room 6, the TV’s broken. I’ve been traveling all day and I just want to watch the news. Can anyone reset the thing and get it to work? I’m paying for the room and you gave me a crap TV.”

“So sorry, sir. I’ll send our maintenance man right over.  We’ll fix it so you can enjoy your stay."

"Thank you."

"Tonight’s band arrives shortly if you want to spend some time in the courtyard while we get your television working again for you. Perhaps you can come down to the bar, have a drink on us in the meantime?

I hung up. No further persuasion needed. A drink of any kind or cost was not something I would ever pass up, particularly not after a too long day such as the one I was having.

I settled in on the seat of a worn red bar stool and ordered a Jack and Coke. The wordless bartender slid it my way. Soon a second followed. No one else was at the bar, but I was comfortable solo.

Outside through french doors I could see that the band had arrived as was setting up in a gazebo beside the pool’s patio. In the room’s corner a few guests had gathered around a card table. They looked up at me for a moment, their eyes saying they didn’t care if I joined them and didn’t care if I didn’t. I went over to inquire as to what was being played.

A man with an unkempt beard that looked older than he was set a well-polished .44 special on the table. “Roulette.”

Apparently, the Russian variety. Alarmed, I looked to the bartender who looked back blank-faced as if to say “Relax. Let them.”

Disturbed, I got the impression that that sort of thing had gone on there before and that no one was worried about it, but my long day hadn’t yet been long enough and my drinks had been too few for me to dance with my own destiny at a card table with strangers in the desert.  I left before they could begin their game against fate.

A familiar tune played out in the courtyard.  People were appearing out of the desolate night and swaying to the rhythm. The last thing I remember, third drink in my hand, I wandered out onto the tiled patio to join them.  

A woman sipping pink champagne grabbed my hand “Dance with me…”

And the rest I forget…

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