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Chapter 20: Breaking Bad

It’s 7:15 AM.

I walk out the back office and see Billy on auto pilot, checking off a list, as his automated voice trails, “Good Morning Mr. Condon this is your 7:15AM wake up call. The current temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Have a pleasant day.”

I scribble on his note pad: Beer.

He nods as he continues, “Good Morning Mr. Weinstein this is your 7:15AM wake up call. The current temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Have a pleasant day!”

I reach for his note pad and write: Where’s Tamika?

With the telephone crutched between his shoulder and ear he continues his wake up call and scribbles: Changing.

He continues the wake up calls and as I write back on the pad: Bar. 8AM.

He nods.

I leave the front desk and enter a side door and enter the service elevator. I push 21. The elevators stops on a couple floors up and I run into an housekeeper with a push cart and hold the door as she rolls right in. We look at each other and say good morning. One floor up and she’s quickly out of the elevator and I’m repeatedly pressing the elevator close button.

When I get to the 21st floor, I slowly open the door and pop my head through the empty hallway closing the door quietly behind me as I tip toe to room 2115, scan my master key, and enter through the door. As I turn around Angel hands me a joint and bluntly asks, “Did she die?”

I light the joint and inhale, “No, she’ll be okay. Fucked up thing is she’s Kalashnikov’s daughter!”

Angel reach for the joint and takes a toke, “No, shit?!”

He passes back the joint and I sit on the comfy soft couch and look around the room, “Where’s Mark & Tahlia?”

"Sleeping." He coughs and takes another drag.

I ash the joint on the table and pass it back to him, “All the gear packed?” 

He takes a toke, “All set. Mark has a class at 11. Tahlia said to wake her up before 7:30, she has yoga or something.” 

The phone rings and from the other room and I can hear Billy’s automated voice through the thin walls, “Good Morning Mr. Black this is your 7:15 AM wake up call. The current temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Have a pleasant day!”

The joint’s burnt out and I’m too stoned to relight it so I just set it on an ashtray as Tahlia enters the room in all black Yoga gear, “Good morning!”

I smile, “Hello sunshine, where you off to?”

She slings a rolled mat around her back, “Rooftop yoga.”

Angel turns to her, “Has anyone figured out you’re not really a guest here?”

She smiles, “I’m dating the yoga instructor. She doesn’t care.” She says very matter-o-factly as she waves good bye and exits through the door.

I look at Angel, “I didn’t know she was gay.”

Angel laughs, “I knew she was too happy to want to wake up this early for a reason.”

I tell him, “I’m going to the bar. You want to go have a drink?”

He shakes his head, relights the joint, and starts smoking, “I’m too stoned.”

"Alright, but don’t forget you have to be out before noon and take the side exit."

It’s 7:30 AM.

I stand with my foot on the yellow line as I stretch my neck to see if the downtown 6 train is close and turn back to George, “Nothing yet. It should be here by now.”

He pulls be back just as the train pulls into the station. “Train here now.”

We step in the subway and have no choice but to stand side by side by the doors. The train is so packed I can’t even turn my head to ask, “The wife waiting at home?”

He turns to me and says, “Not today, she’s working a double shift.”

I’ve asked him a hundred times and he always says no, but I figured I’d ask anyways, “Do you want to grab a drink?”

He shrugs and a moment passes before he says, “Thank you, but not today.” 

The subway doors open and we both step out for second to let some strap hangers pass through. The doors ring and we back inside and finally there are enough seats for me and George to sit. “I got you George. No worries, I’m buying.”

The subway stops again and our car empties, just leaving me and George in silence, until he asks, “Let me ask you something. How much they pay you at hotel?”

"Enough to keep the place from burning down," I sigh, "But not enough to justify all the bullshit we have to deal with."

He leans towards me and continues, “You’re a young guy Alfie. What do you really want to do with your life?”

I’m speechless, George is having a heart to heart with me, “Me? Film, I guess. It’s what I went to school for.”

He presses, “Why you not making film?”

I shrug and shake, “Money, time, and working all night at the hotel.” 

He smiles, “But you got all three right? Why won’t you just shoot at the hotel, no?”

Does he know what I’m doing? He has to know. “Yeah, I would just have to be smart about it and not get caught.”

"You’re a smart guy and people like you," he slowly continues almost mocking me, "I got your back! No worries!"

We both laugh. The subway opens and a homeless guy rolls a push cart into the car. He smells like expired milk and a bag of dead cats. Me and George move towards the other end of the car and away from him. Through the smell I ask, “What do you want to do with your life George?”

"Besides win the lottery? Be an actor of course!" He laughs, he’s warmed up a bit and I see a whole other side of him. "Do you have a part for me in your movie?"

I’m still not sure if he’s just fucking with me, but I play along, “Sure George. I got a KGB role you would be perfect for.”

The subway comes to a stop. It’s my stop so I stand and he rises to ask, “Alfie, can I ask you for a favor?”

I nod, “Sure. Wassup?”

"Can I barrow $20 for a pack of cigarettes?"

I step out of the car and keep a foot on the subway door, “Sure. But do me a favor. Step out of this smelly ass subway car and have one drink with me first.”

The car rings as the doors try to close. He says, “Sure.” and steps out.

It’s 7:45 AM.

The gates are still down, but through the window I can see Old Man Jay wiping down shelves and dusting bottles behind the bar. He waves his arms with a big gesture of ‘Fuck You!’ and continues cleaning.

George asks, “What time does the bar open?”

I start walking across the empty street, “8:00AM, come one we’ll go eat first.” 

George follow me into a bodega, where I order us two bacon, eggs, and cheese and two coffees. We sit in a booth towards the back as he fills out a lottery sheet with one of the hotel pens. He starts, “Give me a number.”

Chewing through my sandwich I mumble, “30.”

He takes a sip of his coffee, fills in the box for 30, and continues, “Okay, give me one more.”

I finish the other half of my sandwich and notice he hasn’t touched his, “17, you not hungry?”

He fills in the box for 17, “I don’t eat pork. I’m Muslim.”

I thought he was Russian. I don’t want to ask, so I humor him, “I’ll save it for Jay.”

He shows me the card, “Okay, all done.”

I give him $20 and he walks to the counter and returns to the table with a pack of cigarettes and a lotto ticket. I sip my coffee and fuck with him, “George, what’s the point of winning the lottery if you’re going to die of lung cancer?”

"When I win, I will quit." I place the pack on his breast pocket. "And when I win, you quit as well!"

"Yeah, we’ll see about that." I look out the window and see Billy across the street looking through the window as Old Man Jay is flicking him off. "When you win George, just give me enough to finish my film."

He’s looking out the window and watches Billy patiently wait as Old Man Jay lifts the gates of the front door, “How much would that be?”

"I don’t the same amount they pay me to keep my mouth shut about what really happens at night." I get up.

He stands, “Give me a number.”

"55."

It’s 8:00 AM.

Me, George, and Billy are at the door of Spring Lounge just as Old Man Jay, is pulling up the metal gate. He grunts while holding the door, “Good morning boys! What can I get for you sad fucks?!”

I take a seat by the bar taps and look at the chalkboards hanging above the bar, “Morning Jay, three IPAs.”

"What are the other two having?" he laughs, as he grills George searching for a reaction, but gets none. Jay sets three pint glass on top of three coasters in front of us and then follows with four shot glasses on the bar top. With his hand free hand on a bottle of whiskey he pours, "You fellas look like you have a rough night, the shots are on me! Cheers boys!"

We shoot down the Jameson and chase it down with the beer. I feel drunk already and but not as much as Billy Blue who shakes his redden face as he takes another sip of his beer. We sit listening to oldies as the bar trickles in the other two regulars, ‘Toothless Joe’ and ‘Australian Frank’ who’s got his dog ‘Spitfire’ on a short leash. The two sit at the other end of the bar and ‘Australian Frank’ buys the next round of beers as a consolation to listening to his story about starting his morning by having to power wash some homeless guy’s shit off his sidewalk, “…that sick bastard had the runs I yah’!”

We all laugh and so enough Spitfire is reaching for the door and Australian Frank is out the door as we watch Spitfire walk across the street to squat and lay a steamy load on at park. Toothless Joe smirks, “That Australian Frank’s just full of shit!” He can’t stop laughing that he drools on himself a little bit. I start laughing and George himself can’t help but to join in.

He waves over Old man Jay and orders three shots of Vodka. He passes the glass down the line and mumbles, “Thank you for the invitation Alfie.” He raises his glass and says, “Na zdorovie!”

I clink my glass, “Whatever you said, cheers!”

Billy Blue takes the shot and starts up a cough. Jay pours him an ice water and asks if he needs a cab. Still coughing, Billy just nods. I turn to George and ask him why we works the over-nights, he answers, “My English is not so good. And I don’t like people. How about you?”

"Same." I laugh and order another round of beers, Billy shakes his head just as a yellow cab pulls up in front of the bar, I get up to him, but he refuses and says he’s okay. We wave him good bye and watch him stumble into the cab and take off. Jay sets the beers and I continue the conversation, "I can’t do this forever George. But until then, I’ll use it to get me where I want to be."

He sips his pint and asks, “You almost done with you film, no?”

Catching me a bit off guard, I fail to realize how much I ignore the fact that George knows everything that goes around in the hotel, between my regular Night Manager duties and my secret film crew working through the night, I never thanked him for not saying anything. I figure there’s no point in lying anymore so I humor him, “I’d be done quicker if I had more money or at least had more time to shoot.”

"I make a cameo. You don’t have to pay me." He laughs and I see a the first genuine smile I’ve seen in a long time.

"I’ll take you up on that offer one of these nights." We clink glasses and I thank him. I know he knows that I know that he knows and is willing enough to look the other way. It’s a mutual respect I’ve earned, by not being a hard ass on my over night team, but through trusting them to do their job and they trusting me in return. We get away with as much as we can on the over night, but we always get the job done. George excuses himself to use the men’s room and I stay at the bar talk to Old Man Jay for bit and ask him about his acting days.

George returns and thanks me and tells me he has to go home, I tell him to stay for another round, but he says he has to go to his other job. I didn’t even know he had another job.

It’s 8:15 AM.

George and I shake hands and he exits the bar. Left with no else to talk to but Toothless Joe, I ask Jay for a Jameson neat and hands me a glass, pours a heavy hand, and just leaves the bottle. The door swings open and it’s Australian Frank and Spitfire, just as he enters he back out and holds the door for a tall blonde girl with cheekbones that could slice through butter. I turn and recognize the girl, “Oh Shiza!”

Chapter 19: Simpatico

I yell “Hold the elevator!” as my foot reaches for the doors like Indian Jones, but it’s an epic fail my size 12 shoe is suddenly lock jawed by the elevator’s teeth.

"Dios mio! Lo siento!" she screams, as I remember that English is not her first language, "Que Hacer?"

"Press open! Open!" I yell as I try to yank my foot free from the cold steel box.

"I’m sorry! I’m sorry! It’s not working!" Her panicky voice escaping from the space between us, the sound of her fingers repeated tapping continues in the background.

I try yanking my foot out of my shoe as I continue, “Pull the elevator stop button!”

Her red beautiful lips peaking through the gap, “Which one is that?”

"It’s a red button that says, Stop!" My shoe is too stubborn to give way, "Do you see it?"

"Yes, I think I got it!" she yells.

The elevator growls a deep buzz, but the elevator doors stay clamp. I kneel my left leg and begin untying my shoes, “Sophia, you’re going to have to push my foot out of the door.”

"Okay," I feel her little hands already gripping my left foot, "I’m pushing."

"That’s it!" With my right foot pushing against the elevator doors I continue, "Now just push harder!"

She yells through the gap, “Okay, I just don’t want to hurt you!”

"Just do it…" and then I fall back, my left foot free from my shoe and my ass on the cold of the tiled floor I mutter, "Thanks!"

The elevator dings and its doors slide open with my left leather boot sitting idle as its unlaced strings hang like spinach in teeth. Through the doorway I see Sophia’s large green eyes glow like stained glass windows as we both watch the elevator doors begin to close again only to stop as it catches the boot, retracting instantly like a mouse trap, and then we just both start laughing. A moment passes and she reaches for my shoe as I hold the doors open and step inside the elevator. I start to kneel down, but she stops me.

"Please, let me." She slips my boot back on my foot, relaces the strings, and ties them with bunny ears. 

Slowly she rises and meets my chest; I realize for the first time how much taller I am than she is, I tell her,  ”Thank you.”

"It’s the least I can do, for almost getting your foot taking your foot off." She laughs.

"That was my fault. I should have taken the stairs." We both laugh.

I push B and the elevator doors close.

Standing idly side by side, I break the ackward silence, “So, where you off to now?”

She smiles, “I’m going back to my apartment and read a book.”

I turn to her, “It’s Friday night! You’re not going out? Drinking and going to a club? Don’t they party hard in Spain?”

She just shrugs, “No. It’s not for me.”

I reach my back pocket and dig out a copy of Catcher in the Rye, “In case you can’t sleep.”

She laughs and starts digging through her purse and pulls out the same red and white book with yellow lettering. She reaches for my copy and holds its side by side. My copy looks like the ugly sister, torn up, dog earred, coffee stained, and yellowed compared to hers which looks freshly bought with a Strand bookmark. She reaches back in her bag and pulls out a pen and writes in the book and hands me her copy, ”I like your’s better. Take mine.”

I reach for the book, our hands touch for moment; my fingers on hers, “Thanks.”

She smiles, “Good night!” and starts walking down the hall.

I say good night and watch her as she stops and twirls, “”In case you get bored during your shift, text me! I’ll be up reading my new book!”

Chapter 18: Fried Check-in

[INT: Coffee Shop. 8:00PM.]

Alfie, Dark Mark, Angel, and Thalia sit at a table by a window over looking the entrance of a hotel. Two black suit cases, a large green canvass military duffle, and three back packs sit at their feet.

Alfie: When you get to the entrance don’t let the bellman take your luggage!

Dark Mark: Why not? This shit is heavy.

Alfie: You got money to tip him?

Dark Mark: No.

Angel: You cheap bastard.

Dark Mark: I’m the one working for free here!

Alfie: Payment’s deffered!

Dark Mark: Not my student loans!

Angel: Damn right!

Thalia: I’m the one still in school here, thanks for the depressing post grad update. 

Alfie: Listen, we shoot this, this shit goes viral, and we’ll make some money; till then, focus at the task at hand. (Beat) The reservation is under your name, Mr. Mark Black

Angel: Dark Mark is not you’re real name?

Dark Mark: Nope.

Alfie: I booked your reservation through Expedia. You just need your ID and a credit card for incidentals.

Dark Mark: I don’t have a credit card.

Angel: Bad credit?

Dark Mark: Not all of us live off mommy and daddy’s Debit card you fucking hipster!

Angel: Chupas mis juevos Maricon!

Dark Mark: Con placer pendejo!

Alfie: This is for you.

Dark Mark: An American Express gift card?!

Thalia: Brilliant!

Alfie: Ask for a smoking room, on a quiet floor, with an east facing balcony. Feel free to be an asshole about it.

Dark Mark: Come again?

Alfie: We need an empty floor to shoot. The only guest on the smoking floor are the kinds that want be left the fuck alone and if they get in the way, we’ll shoot them.

Dark Mark: You meant that figuratively right?

Alfie: You’re the camera man, what do you think?

Dark Mark: And rolling!

Angel: Tell him about the pig!

Dark Mark: The pig?

Alfie: You’re going to place the second room key in this piggy bank. After you and Thalia have unpacked all the equipment, throw the pig off the balcony. That’s going to be the signal for me and Angel to come in.

Dark Mark: Why can’t I just leave you a key at the desk?

Alfie: I used to work there, someone on at the front desk might recognize me. The bellman on the otherhand will be too stoned to care, but they will ask if we are guests. Angel will show him a key and we’ll be in the building.

Dark Mark: So what are you going to wear a disguise?

Angel: He’s going in drag!

Thalia: Are you serious?

Alfie: Did you not the read the script? We’re shooting the Episode 1: ‘Date Rape’.

Dark Mark: Yeah but I thought I would get to be the girl! I brought everything you asked. 

Alfie: I know you did. I told you to bring everything you would need, but darling I need your artistic genius holding the camera.

Dark Mark: Ok, fine, but I’m doing your hair and make-up!

Alfie: Sure.

Dark Mark: How are we going to shoot the lobby scene?

Alfie: You’re going to order fried chicken from Kennedy’s and you’re going to have it delivered to the front desk.

Dark Mark: I want Popeye’s!

Angel: It’s not for you, it’s for the front desk.

Alfie: They will call to announce the delivery guy and then security will escort him up to the room. Pay for it and then and tell them you change your mind and have the delivery guy drop it for at the front desk.

Dark Mark: How do you know they’ll eat it?

Alfie: Front desk people, never say no to free food.

Dark Mark: You’re going to poison them?

Alfie: Not me, blame MSG.

Dark Mark: So they get diarhea and the lobby is empty?

Angel: Exactly.

Dark Mark: How big of a window will that give us to shoot the lobby scene?

Alfie: How much time do you need?

Dark Mark: Guerilla handheld, I’ll need half an hour.

Alfie: It’s food poisoning not instant death.

Dark Mark: You want quality work? I need quality time.

Alfie: We don’t have that luxury.

Angel: I thought it was a luxury hotel?

Dark Mark: What if we get caught?

Alfie: We finish shooting what we can and play it off like we’re just stuipd tourists. Then plan B.

Dark Mark: Plan B?

Alfie: We shoot the lobby scene tomorrow night.

Dark Mark: You’re going to call out sick again?

Alfie: Nope. We’ll reshoot in my hotel.

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Chapter 17: Closed Curtains

It’s 6:15 AM.

Two men guard Mr. Kalashnikof’s shoulders as he sits silently on a stool bar. In line formation we wait. Watching his grey eyes scan the room like one of those scary Jesus paintings. To my right Courtney thumbs through her Blackberry and to the left George stands at attention holding Courtney’s high heels like a parade rifle. Mr. Kalashnikof reaches in his coat and pulls a cigar out his pocket and as one guard hands him a cutter and the other a lighter. He begins smoking and talking in Russian then suddenly starts laughing. George taps me and extends his hand gesturing for the the gold phone. He takes it and hands it to Mr. Kalashnikof. Who flips it open, illuminating a pair of piercing grey eyes that paint a target on my forehead so deep in my skull it hurts, ”What did the girl look like?”

I step forward, “Blonde, thin…”

He stops me and holds his phone towards my face, “Is this her?”

I step forward and see his phone screen illuminating a self shot of a naked blonde woman. I shake my head. He retracts his phone and places it on the bar top and slides it towards me, “scroll through the pictures and tell me which girl you found in the bathroom.”

Taking the phone off the counter, I do as instructed and scroll through pictures of naked women, women giving blow jobs, women kissing other women, and other various souvenirs of Mr. Kalashnikov’s debaucherous life. Then I stop. I see a bent over shot of a blonde getting taken from behind, with a Portuguese tramp stamp just above her butt cheeks, I keep scrolling. My eyes dart through thumbnails like paint samples at Home Depot, a brunette, asian, latina, black, tranny, hood rat, blonde, asian, bruntte, asian, blonde, penis, blonde, asian, black, blonde, brunette, asian, and then finally a clothed woman: blonde, thin, with cheekbones sharp enough to cut butter.

I step forward towards the bar top and hand the shiny gold phone back to Mr. Kalashnikov, “That’s her.”

His eyes locked on target he asks, “Are you sure?”

"Her eyes, were closed, but those cheeks. That has to be her." I turn to George and show him the picture of the beautiful blonde.

He nods.

Mr. Kalashnikov grabs the phone off my hand and rises, “I have to go.” He says something in Russian and soon is out of the door.

One of the guards turns and tells me, “Mr. Kalashnikov thanks you for your service.” Then quickly is in the elevator and disappears.

I turn to George and ask, “What did he say?”

George, “The girl. Was his daughter.”

It’s 6:30 AM.

I’m sitting in the back office drafting the incident report from the party. Stating just the facts: rooms that reported the noise complaints, the time they called, secondary complaints, the first warning call, delivery of the noise complaint letter, and escorting the guests out of the hotel due to over capacity. I have to leave out all the juicy details: the two passed out bodies by the door, the orgy, the bag of coke, the purple dildo smudge with human shit, the landfill of cigarettes butts, collection of glass ware both recyclable and of the paraphernalia variety, and of course the dead hooker that ended up being a overdosed Russian Mafia princess.

I can not mention anything that involves Mr. Kalashnikov, because technically he doesn’t really exist, at least not on any of the hotel stationary, literature, or press kits. I definitely can not mention anything about all the colors of the vagina rainbow that lives in he-that-must-not-be-named’s shiny gold quarter million dollar cellphone. Nor can I acknowledge its existence nor the existence of a picture of my boss’s behind penetrated by said man-that-can-not-be-named. Mornings like these I really need a drink, I dial zero, hear the phone ring right at the front desk.

"Good Morning Front desk this is Billy. How may I assist you?"

I take the phone off the speaker, “Billy’s it’s me. Do you want to go have a drink at Old Man Jay’s?” I don’t wait for him to pause, “I’m buying!”

His smile cuts through the phone, “Uh, sure Boss!”

I hang up the phone and walk out of the back office and ask him, “How’s the newspapers?”

He turns and answers, “Master’s should be finishing up soon.”

I clip my radio to my belt, “When he gets back, ask if he wants to tag along.”

"He can’t he works at Goldman’s right after."

"Right."

I click on Channel 1. “George come in.”

"Go for George."

"What’s your 20?"

"Security booth."

"I need you to sign the incident report. Can you report to the front desk?"

"Affirmative."

It’s 6:45 AM.

I unlock the General Manager’s office and place a copy of the incident report on Courtney’s desk. As I turn around I notice her sleeping on a red leather couch. Her blonde almost touching the carpet below, her feet dangle off the other end still covered with fluffy hotel slippers. Instinctively I take off my jacket to cover her, but retract quickly, and settle to turn up the thermostat instead. I click on the dial to a cool 69 Fahrenheit and suddenly she wakes up.

Rubbing her eyes and smudging her mascara she looks up at me, “Alfie what are you doing here?”

"Dropping off a copy of the incident report." I hand her a tissue, "Sorry, I didn’t know you were here."

"Thank you." She sits up, "Has Kalashnikov called back the hotel?"

I shake my head. “Maybe you should just go home. Come back after lunch.”

"I think I’ll do that." She stands up and almost falls, but I catch her. "Sorry, my leg’s still asleep."

I place her on her feet with her arms are still around my neck. I can feel her leaning into as I turn away, “No problem.”

She places her hand on my cheek and turns my face to hers, suddenly it’s nothing blue sky, “You know I miss us. How things use to be.”

Turn away, “That was a long time ago.”

She reaches for my face again, “It doesn’t have to be.”

Then suddenly the door opens and it’s George standing at the door way me mutters, “I’ll come back later.”

It’s 7:00AM

Katherine’s little red sneakers steps out of a yellow taxi and with two ice coffees in her hands she hugs me, “Guten Morgen! How was your night?”

I open the front doors for her as she steps in the hotel, “Crazy. I left you a copy of the incident report on your desk.”

She turns around, “What really happened?”

Following her into the back the back office, “1611 had an orgy. I kicked them all out. Some girl OD’d in the bathroom. Turns out to be Kalashikov’s daughter.”

She closes the back office door, “Oh, Shiza!”

"Is that her name?"

Chapter 16: Purple Rain

I pull a brick out of the wall and stash the bag of coke in a tin can of Cafe Bustelo. This is where I hide my treasures. Things I find during during my shift: foreign coins, IDs, glass pipes stamped with burns and scars, AA chips, Canadian cigarettes, and an album of empty thumb sized baggies, all sitting on top of a small library of abandoned paper-backs. There are enough lighters and matches stuffed in this wall to burn the whole building down if not the least the rooftop bar. How it hasn’t imploded is a surprise, as it’s always over capacity, since they usually count two coked out models as one person, and have security detail sold with each table.

I grab a copy of ‘Catcher in the Rye’ from my collection and sit on the top step and read for a little bit as the hotel breathes deeply below my feet. With the bass from the loud speakers massages my toes, I finally get passed chapter 13 only to be interrupted by the sound of a swinging door. Two voices laugh and a pair of hands hit the cold wall. I tuck the book in my back pocket and secure the bricks and soon my feet dance through two floors before finding two pairs of ankles. Two men are having sex against the wall the way they do in prison movies. They stop immediately not because I’m there, but because I fail to realized I thrown up on them. The bald man looks up and meets my eyes, before I get a chance to recognize him he’s down a flight of stairs leaving behind the man with nothing more but the clothes at his feet.

I run pass the man and through the door and into the roof top bar and zip through a crowd straight through into the mens room. I run the faucet in mouth and hand the Haitian bathroom attendant a dollar as I reach for a miniature bottle of mouthwash and a single serving Lifesaver. Back into the bar I make my way through another set of mini skirts and crowns of hair gel as I take a door to the service elevator. I press L and repeatedly tap Elevator Close.

Stepping in the Lobby I notice a new face behind the front desk. I walk towards the girl with short brown asymetrical hair who looks up at me with bright green eyes and asks, “Are you checking in Sir?”

I laugh, “No, I’m the Night Manager.”

She smiles, “My apologies. This is my first time working the PM shift.”

I reach out my hand “Yeah, I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Alfie.”

"I’m Sophia." She releases her corporate grip and continues, "Oh you’re Alfie. One of the hotel owners just stopped by the desk and dropped this for you."

I thank her and take the purple envelope from her soft, small, finger tips. I tear it open and find $300. I pull the copy of ‘Catcher in the Rye’ from my back pocket, stash the money in Chapter 13, and disappear into the back office.

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