Tanya wasn’t soliciting that night. And the piped music was lousy. I waited a while, had a couple of Johnnie Walker whiskies, half-heartedly chatted to a fat girl with a pouting mouth and bad breath, and went back to the room. Hannah was snoring.
Saturday, she went window-shopping — I waited at a run-down coffeehouse, and read yesterday’s Jakarta Times. Mid-morning Mary called me.
‘And what’s your excuse this time?’
‘I’m in a different time zone, it’s still Friday, here.’
‘Don’t get smart, Charles, or else.’
Or else, what?
Empty threats. I clicked off the phone.
The day passed.
When we returned to our room, Hannah turned on the TV, and I half-finished Friday’s crossword.
The evening became another déjà vu.
Except a new bargirl who surrounded me in a corner. She had a face with a beaky nose and rolling eyes, and gangling arms and legs stuck on a make-shift torso — reminded me of an octopus.
I didn’t sleep well that night.
Sunday, after breakfast, Hannah went window-shopping in a new costume. Her share of the money well spent — she looked great. Our luggage had grown to three bags. I waited at the run-down coffeehouse, and read Saturday’s paper.
Mid-morning, Mary called me.
We exchanged a few innovative pleasantries containing several swear words, mostly of her creation, and threats, solely her creation.
I clicked off the phone, and resolved not to turn it back on.
The day passed.
Hannah watched TV, and I completed Friday’s crossword and begun Saturday’s.
Our luggage grew to four bags. A Christian miracle. One more bag and a couple of trout, and Hannah could re-enact a parable.
The evening became another déjà vu, up to the moment I walked into the bar.
A live band was on stage. Stage? A small raised platform at one end rocking with the beat.
I turned to leave, but the musicians finished their wailing and took a break. The lights brightened. I glanced around. No Tanya and no deep-sea monsters — I ordered a large whisky and soda, and retreated along the length of the bar, far away from the stage to a stool seat from where I could observe newcomers.
I gave up at the second break, my ears deafened. I wouldn’t hear Hannah snoring, a bonus, and to be truthful I’d lost interest in confronting Tanya, she was history.
I traipsed back up the basement steps to the lobby area, saw the receptionist at the far end, and…good grief.
A tall man, with a military bearing, was collecting his key from her. With him Tanya, dressed in a black dress slit at the hip revealing nothing, but promising everything. She whispered something in his ear, linked her arm in his, and they moved across to the lift.
That was too much to ignore — another victim about to be fleeced. Before I’d taken a few hurried steps, the lift doors opened, they entered, and the doors closed.
I strode over and saw the lift ascend to the 13th floor, and stop.
A voice behind me. ‘Good evening sir, can I help you?’
I turned. The night manager. Shift drifting into the early hours, he still looked fresh. The way he observed me, I didn’t.
‘I think I recognised a friend of mine, can’t be sure, he was collecting his key a few moments ago.’
From his blank expression, my “friend’s” privacy was going to remain private, unless I came up with a name.
‘He had a young lady with him. Her name’s Tanya.’
I tried another route. ‘I think he’s in danger.’
The manager’s eyebrows rose. ‘Why’s that, sir?’
Because she fucking well drugged me and stole my fucking money, you nitwit.
‘I need you to call his room.’
‘What’s the number, sir?’
I made a stab. ‘Thirteen hundred something or other, I forget exactly.’
‘Excuse me, sir.’
He moved behind the counter, and discussed something with the receptionist. She nodded, a good sign. I strolled over and leant against the desk.
The manager glanced up. ‘The gentleman left instructions not to be disturbed, sir.’ He opened his arms, shrugged. ‘I’m sorry, sir.’
My lips tightened. Obviously, not being disturbed took precedence over any threat of danger. I nodded at the co-conspirators, pushed off the desk, and walked over to the lift. I pressed the button and waited. One final chance. The lift arrived, the doors opened, I entered and pressed the 13th floor button. Once there, I stood in the empty foyer and looked at the far wall, which had a room notice board. To the left, rooms 1301 – 1319, and to the right, rooms 1320 – 1339.
I took the left corridor, and walked down to the end, pausing at each door on either side to listen.
The sound of TV in a few, but nothing to suggest I should disturb the occupants. I retraced my steps to the foyer, and walked the length of the other corridor.
And there it was. Right at the end, by the fire-escape exit.
Dangling from the handle of room 1339, a Do Not Disturb sign. I pressed my ear against the door, hearing the murmur of voices, one high pitch and one low, but not discernible enough to make out the words.
It had to be them.
The man would understand — if he was British. We hadn’t won two world wars by being faint-hearted.
I rattled the handle and banged on the door. The murmuring ceased. I waited. Nothing. I banged once more, the door chain clinked, and the door opened a crack.
A woman peered out, and she wasn’t Tanya.
‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘wrong room.’ I turned to leave, but then another woman’s voice. ‘Who is it, fräulein?
Fräulein? What the f…?
I didn’t need to see her, I’d recognised the voice. What weird game was she playing?
‘Let me in,’ I said, ‘I must speak to your…’ I took a gamble… ‘fiancé.’
The woman swore at me. ‘Sich verpissen,’ she said, closing the door.
And fuck off to you, as well, fräulein.
I took a step back. A few images went through my mind, most of them sordid. By the time I reached my room, I settled on a threesome drugs-induced orgy with an unhappy ending for the sauerkrauts.
I chortled, and opened the door. Hannah was snoring.