Some time ago I read a story where the author used the idea of the television newscast and the idea stuck in my head. I can't remember the guy's name or that of the story so I apologise to that author if there is any similarity between his story and mine.
Wanderer jargon buster: TARDIS stands for Time and Relative Dimensions In Space and is the name of "Doctor Who's" Space and Time travel machine. The thing is a British police phone box on the outside, but can be as big as a cathedral inside. You've never heard of Doctor Who? Oh dear, you have led a sheltered life!
British petrol (gas) station attendants' are often known as "console operators" in the UK. Gives the poor bugger the idea when he applies for the job, that all he's got to do is look after switching the pumps on and off. Doesn't say anything about him running about like a blue-arsed-fly selling everything from sliced bread to condoms all bleeding night.
As usual I thank my LadyCibelle and Techsan for their patience, proof reading, editing skills and of course encouragement. I'd also like to add that we don't always see eye to eye, so I take full responsibility for the content and any cock-ups in this story.
Those of you who have to travel in the course of your employment will know what it's like when you find yourself entering yet another strange hotel room, in yet another town you don't really want to be in.
It could be I'm a bloody pessimist, tight or that I don't trust people; after a quick look around to familiarise myself with the room's layout, I put my travelling bag and briefcase down. Then the first thing I did was to check the seals on the mini-bar (assuming there is one, of course), there's no way I'm paying the hiked-up prices hotels charge for a miniature bottle out of one of those things, expense account or not. And I'm damned sure I'm not paying for something I haven't used myself either.
Next it's a quick check for cleanliness of the room, bed and towels. A flash foyer and efficient reception doesn't mean the rest of the in-house staff is up to scratch. After checking that the bed linen is what it should be, I take a quick look under the bed. This was a new check I'd instigated after reading about a guy in New York, who found a dead prostitute's body under his bed. I didn't expect to find any corpses and I won't go into what I've found under hotel room beds since I started checking there. Someone might read this and demand it back. Don't panic, though; I reformatted the hard drive and my daughter loves the iPod, even if I did have to buy new earphones.
Finally after I've made sure there's both hot and cold water running in the bathroom and that the telephone works, it's time to switch the TV on. Good to check the telephone first; because if the TV doesn't work, trying to shout insults down a dead phone can be frustrating.
Not that I watch the TV much, but its nice to have a little background sound sometimes, especially if the people in the next room are noisy or getting it on. Some of these cheap hotels have very thin walls and I'm afraid I don't "get off" on listening to a couple of lovers trying to wear the bed out in the next room. I don't know where some of these folks get their energy from?
Everything checked out fine in this particular establishment; well, it normally does anyway but, as I said, I'm a bit of a pessimist so I have to check. I was a pissed off pessimist actually, as I really didn't want to spend another night away from my lovely wife Florette.
Florette. Yeah, strange name; French. Florette's mother was French; apparently Florette's father was shot down during the war and Florette's mother's family hid him from the Germans and nursed him back to health before helping him to get to Spain. After the war, he went back and married the daughter of the house and took her back to England. The trouble with Florette's name is there isn't any way to shorten it, so she became Babe to me most of the time.
I'd left the TV on whilst I had my shower and changed. When I came out of the bathroom, the local news was just starting at half-six. So I switched the TV over to ITV as they started their national news at around that time.
Same old thing, politicians going on about some world crisis, and looking to have a war somewhere. Oh, they call it peacekeeping but, Christ, don't those buggers understand that our guys are getting shot at out there. Jesus, we all know that the plan is to keep the voters interested in a war somewhere, so they won't realise what a fuck-up the buggers are making of running things back home.
As I can't stand all their bullshit, I turned the volume down some and called Florette on my mobile. If I can help it, I don't pay the inflated prices they charge for hotel phone calls, and besides I had speed-dial on my mobile.
There was no answer from my home phone, so I called Florette's mobile and as usual it rang for sometime before she answered. I could just imagine her digging around in that handbag of hers trying to find it. I never could understand just how she could get all that junk in that bag. The damn thing was like a Tardis; when she pulled all the junk out of it, no one would ever believe it was all going to fit back inside.
"Hi, darling. Did you get there alright?" Florette finally answered.
"Yeah, fine, Babe. The traffic was bad on the motorway as usual, and I got hung up for a while. The hotel room's not bad. I've seen worse. Where are you, by the way? I called on the home phone first."
"I'm round at Jenny's. Couldn't see the point in dashing home to an empty house again. Why?"
"Oh, just curious, that's all."
I should have guessed Florette would be at Jenny's. The two of them are inseparable most of the time and have been ever since I met Florette at Jenny's wedding. Jenny's husband, Joseph, was my best mate Sheldon's younger brother. Although over the years Joe and I have grown closer, because of the girls' close friendship.
Florette said she was having dinner with Jenny and Joe and she might possibly stay over. As there wasn't much point in going home to an empty house, Florette had slept over at their place before when I'd been away, so it wasn't really a surprise for me.
After we'd said the normal sloppy stuff, and I'd told Florette I'd see her the following evening, we ended the call and I headed down to the restaurant for my evening meal.
There wasn't much on the menu that grabbed my attention so I went for my usual steak. That went back once because it wasn't cooked to my liking. Oh, I can be a right pain in the arse when I want to be, especially when I'm away without Florette. I'm so pissed off I'm looking for anything to vent my anger and frustration on.
My meal over, I adjourned to the bar. Hey, with luck there'd be some nice scenery in there that night. Well, on entering the bar I figured the evening could be interesting if nothing else. The first person I took note of, I put straight down as a hooker; she was sitting at the bar, sizing up everyone the moment they walked into the place.
Sitting at one of the tables were four women, a bit on the older side who looked like they were on girls' night out. A couple of rep types kept asking them to dance, which all of the women did in turn. But I think the guys were on a losing wicket. Those four were going home to their loving husbands still chaste, which they did do later when one of their husbands turned up to take them home. Well, I assumed it was a husband; if it wasn't, those four were capable of killing him to my mind. A three-way with one guy, yeah, but a five-way with one guy? They'd kill the bugger.
There were a few couples and foursomes sitting around, including one pair that looked like a honeymoon couple. Shit, I hoped they weren't in the room next door to mine. Two separate couples, whom I took to being on the lam; the age differences didn't look right to me. But then again, the girls might have just been escorts, for all I know. Oh, I don't speculate about escorts; some folks say they are all on the game. But I happen to know a couple of them who aren't. They're just a couple of nice kids trying to get through university without a bloody great debt hanging over their heads. Live and let live, I say.
There were just a couple of ladies on their own - besides the hooker, that is - and there were, of course, quite a few single and little groups of reps and workers who were away from home for the night. By watching them, I could tell some were on the prowl, while others were just having a quiet drink before they, like I would be doing, went to spend a lonely night in a strange bed.
I hadn't seen her in the restaurant but, shit, I - and just about everyone else - saw her when she walked into that bar. God, she glided into the place like she wasn't touching the floor. She stopped and looked around nervously, I think, as though she wasn't sure what to do next, then headed for the bar where she took a stool not far from the hooker who was by now in conversation with a rather rotund guy. I assume they were discussing business.
No sooner had the woman got to the bar than the first wolf arrived at her side. A bit premature I think, but this woman was one of those that make all happily married men - I'm assuming the men have a conscience here - wish they weren't happily married. She, I think, politely refused the wolf's offer of a drink; I would have loved to have overheard what she'd said to him; whatever it was, the wolf quickly retreated.
.... There is more of this story ...