We were late for breakfast. Hannah played around, all skittish — it was good to giggle away our money troubles. Moreover, I was anticipating more fun when I offered my condolences to Tanya’s latest victims.
Altogether, a buoyant beginning for a Monday.
Until Mary called. I switched off before she spoiled my mood.
Hannah touched my arm. ‘Who?’
I smiled to reassure her the call wasn’t important. ‘No-one. Let’s eat, I’m starving.’
Waiters in the lounge were clearing up the buffet, but we squeezed in, and scooped up a plateful of warm remnants — scrambled eggs, vegetable goulash, and toast -- enough to tide us over.
No sign of the sauerkrauts.
Hannah finished her meal and went to search for a fruit bowl, while I chewed at my toast, and planned our day. Banking was top priority, but time to kill before NatWest opened in London. In the meantime, I’d use the hotel Internet to check on flights back to Aceh, while Hannah went window shopping.
A tap on my shoulder. I turned to see the fräulein, her “fiancé”, and a hotel manager staring at me. The woman shrieked.
‘That’s him. Call the police.’
The manager held up a hand, addressed me. ‘Our guests filed a complaint that they were drugged and robbed, sir.’
I smiled. ‘I tried to warn your colleague last night. And your guests, but she…’ I pointed a finger at my accuser … ‘swore at me.’
Headshaking all round, the woman hissing, and the fiancé clenching his fist.
The manager replied. ‘No report from the night manager, sir. Only CCTV showing an Asian lady, and later, you walking down the 13th floor corridor to this couple’s room.’
Hmm. I stood up. ‘This is ridiculous. Your night manager is a buffoon. And I suppose you have pictures of me entering their room and departing with a suitcase full of money and jewellery?’
‘No sir. Perhaps you used the fire-escape.’
‘Yes I did. To go back to my room.’
‘Your room is on the 7th floor, sir. Why were you on the 13th?’
‘I’ve already told you…’
‘What happen, Meester Charles?’ Hannah, returning with two small oranges and a banana, and joining in.
The woman shrieked again. ‘Charles, that’s his name. Tanya told me.’
The hotel manager frowned at her. ‘Perhaps we could use my office. We don’t want to disturb the other guests.’
The woman shook her head. ‘Call the police.’ She screwed up her face, pointed at Hannah. ‘This young girl could also be part of his gang.’
And fuck you, too.
I’d had enough. ‘Go ahead and call the police. Carry out a search. I’ve nothing to hide.’ Except explaining how Tanya knew my name.
My room revealed nothing, of course — and after our luggage was repacked, we were accompanied to the police station to make statements. Mine, doctored by saying I exchanged names with Tanya at the bar on my previous visit — Hannah saying she stayed in our room alone until I returned from my drinking session.
The police station — a nondescript hole — bustled with activity. Us, low priority, and with no more than “cigarette-money” provided by the hotel manager, our process was rubber-stamped.
Without any evidence of wrong-doing I was free to go, much to the annoyance of the sauerkrauts. When she demanded compensation, I flipped.
‘Fräulein, I rose to rank of major in the British Army with an impeccable service record. You’ve accused me of robbery, and insulted my companion, all because your sordid sex threesome went wrong.’
The man frowned. ‘How did you know about..?’
‘Why do you think the hotel manager never received a report from his colleague?’
Dumb fucks. ‘Well I’ll explain. Direct your enquiries to the night manager—he probably gets a rake off from this Tanya hooker.’
I wound up for the coup de grâce. ‘Fräulein, if I ever have the misfortune to meet you or lover-boy again’…I pointed at the fiancé…‘I’ll fucking start World War 3.’
Two policeman prevented lover-boy from launching a pre-emptive strike, and ushered the couple away. The hotel manager wiped a hand across his forehead, and apologised to Hannah.
At least, I think he did.
He also arranged a taxi to take us to the Bank Rakyat — his cousin was the manager — and told me our extra nights’ accommodation was complimentary.
‘Goodbye, sir. Goodbye, madam,’ he said, in a tone that suggested precisely that.
The manager at Bank Rakyat appeared overjoyed to boast a British Army Major amongst his prestigious clientele — even if this one looked a bit worse for wear, and rupiah-less. I used his letterhead and sent it by fax to authorise my UK bank to transfer funds, and to set up telephone banking for the future.
By close of play I was on the winning side, and with the prospect of my new account being topped up to the hilt — by the next day.
The next day? We had to find another night’s accommodation, but not at the Bel-Air — that was a bridge too far.
The bank manager recommended one which accepted my new credit card without demur — a step down in class, but the room was clean and the service helpful.
I sensed my troubles were diminishing by the day, until we walked into the dining room that evening. Hannah, sparkling, and me in smart casuals.
Sitting at one table near the cloakroom was a person I recognised.