The Frangipani Hotel: Fiction

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Book: Read The Frangipani Hotel: Fiction for Free Online
Authors: Violet Kupersmith
Tags: Fantasy
saying that I have something to take care of. Without knocking, I throw open the door to room 205. The girl hasn’t moved from the bed, but the flower vase is now lying empty on its side. I’m a little disappointed—I had been hoping to burst in on her doing something, I don’t know what. Maybe hanging upside down from the ceiling. She wrinkles her nose at me.
    “You’ve been drinking, Phi.”
    “It was the American’s fault! He’s going to be my new boss. And he wants me to get him a call girl, to not-sleep with her tomorrow night.”
    “You’re drunk, Phi.”
    “Probably—I’m seeing two of you right now.”
    She laughs. “Oh, there’s only one me; you should be thankful for that.”
    “Your vase is dry. Let me fill it.”
    “That’s very kind of you, but I’m not thirsty anymore. A little hungry, but not thirsty.”
    “I’ll get you something to eat then.”
    “That won’t be necessary. Not yet, anyway. Now it’s time for you to rest. I’ll be fine for the time being. Sleep well, Phi.”
    Feeling rejected, I fumble out the door and feel my way down the hall and up the stairs, pausing by various rooms. I know that 312 has nightmares, I know about the stains that were on 404’s sheets this morning. I know things about them that would make them blush, but most of them probably don’t know my name. I fall into bed without taking my shoes off. Everything is tilting in a way it shouldn’t. It feels a little bit like I’m underwater.
    T HE NEXT MORNING , Mr. Henry is too hungover to care about the broken plants anymore. He stumbles into the lobby complaining about his aching head, and if he remembers the things he said last night, he does not acknowledge it. My own head, however, feels surprisingly clear. I sit behind my desk and wait for the American to come down the stairs, steeling myself for the inevitable moment to come when he will apologize and tell me that he didn’t know what he was doing last night and didn’t mean any of it.
    A little after nine, the black car pulls up outside, and the American, his hair slicked back and his face pinkish, emerges. As he passes me on the way out, he says, “Hey there, partner. Eight still all right?” with a wink.
    I nod, my pulse racing like a flustered schoolgirl’s. After he drives away, I pick up the phone and make a call to the massageparlor next door. Thang comes swaggering down the stairs just as I am hanging up the receiver.
    “Who was that?” he asks, squeezing in next to me on the chair. He kicks his feet up on top of the desk and steals my mug of coffee from me.
    “Just business. I need you to cover reception for me tonight.”
    “Can’t. Got a date. Make Loi do it.” He takes a sip of coffee. “This is too sweet.”
    “I put condensed milk in mine. If you don’t like it, get your own.”
    “It’s fine.”
    We sit together in the chair without speaking. He drinks my coffee and I stare out across the lobby at the wall where the photograph of our fathers hangs. I want to tell him I’m leaving, but when I open my mouth I say, “Who do you think was holding the camera?”
    B Y 7:45 P.M. I am waiting nervously in the lobby. Loi, the little shit, agreed to take over reception tonight, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Neither is Châu—or “Candy,” as she’s professionally known—from next door, who told me that she specializes in showing Western men a good time while getting them to empty their wallets. I pace around the still-dry fountain; I haven’t gotten around to calling the plumber yet. Why does my head hurt now when it felt fine this morning?
    At 7:58 the American’s black car purrs to a stop in front of the Frangi and he sidles out wearing a crisp black suit. I can tell that my wrinkled blue oxford is a little damp under the armpits and smells like stale beer. I open the door for him, stammering out an excuse for running behind schedule, but he is looking past me, at something over my shoulder. The American gives a low

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