The bellhop smiled a youthful grin as he held the gold push bar of the luggage cart, “Welcome to the Hotel California.”
Amanda appeared to be a very pretty expensively accessorized thirtyish travelling business woman. Her tight frame rose three and a half inches above the marble floor in her Manolo Blahnik creation. Magazines call the designer the holy man of heels, a term ironic in that the women who wear them seem to be least holy persons to sport such fashion. This pair of pumps in open toe with straps that wrap her ankles suggests bondage topped off with diamond crusted buckles. The soft blue velvet matched her blue suit tailored to own any room she entered. The young man, very happy with his task, ushers her to the elevator and announces, “Room thirteen thirty-three.”
“Thirteen? Isn’t that the unlucky floor number never used in high rises?”
“Yeah, the room is duly noted as fourteen thirty-three, but I don’t buy all the superstition.”
“Oh, a realist are you?”
He smiled and raised his eyebrows in enough of a small arch to make his point.
Once past the boringness of the elevator rising to stop, the sliding of the door, and the unveiling of the hall, he leads Amanda to the suite’s double entry doors, “Ready?” he asks.
The grand entrance unwraps her present with a breath taking corner window view of the Santa Monica Pier below. Turquoise floor to ceiling drapes carry the theme of the building’s art deco facade inside. Cool colors to pull the feel of the Pacific vista into the living room area closed off by French doors that lead to the king size bed.
“Will you be with us long?”
She answered, “That depends.”
With that, she slipped him a folded fifty and ushered him away.
She then texted, “Ok, I’m here.”
The return, “Meet you in the lounge.”
He strolled in with the sunset behind him dressed casual, except for the brass G G logo showing off his Gucci loafers. Any guy that can afford seven-fifty a pair can afford to buy drinks and dinner, “Hello,” he utters to Amanda.
She removed her Bulgari sun glasses showing him the diamond inset on the gold frame before letting him soak in her eye contact. She wanted his attention.
He sat and arranged the dinnerware before asking, “Have you done this before?”
“Do I look like a virgin?”
He chuckled back, “I would say you know what you are doing.”
“Of course,” she said back and sipped her Chateau Blanc. “You know why they call it virgin wool?”
Amada puts her glass down, “Ugly sheep.”
Stephen’s head jarred back in laugher, “That’s something you will never have to worry about.”
The moon had risen just over the blackness that a once sundrenched ocean becomes when night falls over the Hotel California. The flashing round Ferris wheel on the pier could be the source of light reflected in the white globe hanging in the sky. Distant crowd noise had become a murmur and traffic on Ocean Blvd nearly non-existent. Amanda had earned her living. Stephen was in the bath; shower running. She noticed his laptop open with a screen saver of a manicured clean cut woman with two kids; his family somewhere over the far side of Temescal Canyon Road in a three thousand square foot home where he should have everything he ever wanted. But, instead he was here on Ocean Blvd with Amanda; a beauty he had never met and had nothing in common, except for the hunger satisfied in room thirteen thirty-three.
Amanda left the king size and found her way back to the living room side table where her white powder was neatly spread among the remains of tracks now inhaled. Stephen had found that powder to be more than he wanted. He could not get enough, “Another track?’ she had asked. “Be careful. This is the good stuff.”
“You bet,” he said. “Hit me again.” He repeated that over and over.
Her hair, down in a long tail hung over her shoulder as she leaned in for one more snort one more time. The numbness she needed to survive could only come from losers like Stephen. Enough times such as this, and she had developed a special kind of hate toward the selfish assholes that can never get enough of someone else. She may be high priced and in demand of those Sunset Strip jack offs, but the reward had grown empty. The time had come she devoured and loved the coke in her life. It was time when doing anything was too much.
Her text message rang, “You back yet?”
“No. This damn guy wouldn’t stop the coke. I thought I would never finish him. Finally, he’s now in the shower.”
The shower kept running. Stephen must have been trying to wash away whatever of Amanda had become distasteful. The very idea of Stephen, Mark, William, John, or whatever name popped up on her screen made her feel sick. She looked again at his laptop. The smiling faces of those who knew nothing of the person he was. She opened his email. That letter to her about his business trip flipped some switch in Amanda’s mind. From her return email, Amanda read where the wife had told him of the kid’s school day and her chance to unwind. Amanda hit ‘Reply All’ and typed, “See you soon” and attached a link to Amanda’s escort website. The curser flashed twice and she pushed ‘Send’.
Amanda then closed the laptop, gathered her things, and opened the door to the hall that would take her away from Hotel California. She stepped into the hall, but it was no longer what it had once been. The four walls made up nothing more than a room; an empty room with no other doors and no elevator. She turned back and the room number on the door Thirteen Thirty-Three was clearly in the same place where the normal fourteen thirty-three would be. Thirteen. She went back into the room and could hear the shower still running. Amanda went into the bathroom and the naked Stephen was in a fetal position on the shower floor with streams of water bouncing off him.
“Damn,” she said. “Stephen, get up.”
There was no movement; just the water running over him.
She leaned into the shower and shook him. Nothing. The water was falling over Amanda, sending her long brown hair down in soaked tangled curls over her wet shoulders. “Stephen!” she yelled then she heard, “Amanda.”
Again, “Amanda, get up.”
She could hear her name being shouted, but could not move. Every inch of her felt trapped. Her name again pierced the darkness, but her eyes would not open.
“Amanda, you have to get out of the rain. Amanda, get back in your tent.”
The glamour of high rises and thrill of men with power had taken the toll. Amanda found hell in her own version of Hotel California in her makeshift tent on a back street of Santa Monica with just the far off site of the Ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier going dark in the early dawn before the sun.