Tuesday, December 18

The Seventy-Third Minute of the Game

I

THE HOTEL ROOM pillows were divided into two; ‘soft’ & ‘firm’, a pair on each side of the bed. I had grouped the two ‘firm’ together and was lying on the bed, watching an international rugby match on the twenty-eight-inch television set. I didn’t care for rugby at all, but I was waiting for her to finishing showering. Feint sounds of the hose came through the en-suite wall, as the volume was down low. When she had finished, I would go in there. The wedding reception began at half-seven. Both of us found it a little too eager to show up on time. She was, I guessed, enjoying the shower; it had been twenty-five minutes.
There was a knock at the door. I got up to answer it, though I knew who it would be.
He stood there in a very loud suit; a beige jacket & trousers with navy stripes, white shirt, a navy tie done up, looking official. He smiled at me – ‘It’s fuckin’ massive.’
Flapping his trousers, I invited him in. He stood there, next to the open wardrobe – where neither I nor she had hung our clothes – and noticed the sound of the shower, because he paused and looked at the bathroom door. He also, as is customary for anyone entering someone else’s hotel room, took a look around while pretending not to.
‘I can’t wear this, mate!’
‘Mate, I’m telling you: you look brilliant. It’s amazing … hilarious!’
‘Exactly! I ain’t wearing it.’
‘You have to!’
‘Nah, I brought a back-up suit.’
I was disappointed but I was laughing very much. He turned back and forth in his suit to show me what it looked like. He had bought it while travelling in Thailand and, fancying something tailor-made, asked the gentleman for something ‘professional’ and then, requesting playfully, something ‘loud’. Now, though, in my hotel room, he was accusing it of being too big, the trousers especially. He held the trousers apart to show me. Only the tips of his black shoes were visible. We both laughed.
‘Ey, mate! Look at the size of trousers!’
‘Please wear it. I’ll buy you drinks all night if you wear it.’
He didn’t even consider the offer – ‘No way! It’s embarrassing. I look like a fuckin’ tit! Even walkin’ through the hotel I hoped no one’d see me.’ His mind was made up. ‘You showered yet?’
‘Not yet. Liz’s still in there.’
The shower stopped and he took this as his cue to leave.
But first – ‘You watching the rugby?’
‘Yeah,’ I said – ‘Not really interested, just waiting.’ I took a look at his suit one more time – ‘Please wear it!’
‘No way, mate. No way.’
I waved him off, shutting the door, the both of us chuckling our way apart.

II

‘HAS HE GONE?’ came a voice from the bathroom.
I walked back and reassumed my position on the bed, which was flickering in the seventy-third minute of the game. Pulling the remote from underneath me, I answered – ‘Yeah, he’s gone.’ I heard some shuffling, then the fumbled turning of a lock. The bathroom shone a yellow glow on to the cheap carpet and an eager roomful of steam rolled out. There was the scent of her shampoo – coconut – and her body wash – lime, like jelly-babies.
The well-used hotel towel was tucked in just above her breasts.
‘Has he gone?’ she asked again, checking the room.
‘Yes, yes.’
The rugby game was not getting any better. She waved her hand in front of her face – ‘I wish you wouldn’t smoke when I’m in the shower.’ I did not respond. Through the smoke I could still smell her.
She fished through her bag on the floor and as she crouched her Achilles tendon pronounced itself – ‘Are you not going to shower?’
‘After this,’ I said, indicating the television set. I did not care for the game but, after thirty minutes of the sound of water, I thought I would watch her get dressed. She would not, as was her nature, be happy with that, so whenever she looked over I feigned interest in the game.
Awkwardly she dried herself as best she could without removing the towel. She almost fell over a couple of times and I smiled to myself. ‘Do you think the bar will be open all night?’ she asked me. I told her that I thought it would be. ‘What’s the bride like – what’s-her-name?’ I told her the bride was lovely; we had met numerous times. Then she turned her back to me and removed the towel. I liked to see her without shoes, the muscles on her legs, the back of her knees lined with rice paper, the dimples on her thighs, the cute bum, the little deposits above her hips, the curving signature of her spine, her wet blonde hair.
‘I hope I won’t be under-dressed.’
Not taking my eyes off of her bum – ‘It’s only the reception.’ When she bent over to pull on her knickers I saw tiny little blonde hairs around her anus, but even they seemed holy.
She then applied lotion to her whole body, focusing on where the skin was driest; the forearms, her flanks, her calves. She roughly slapped it on, and rubbed, until she sparkled. The rugby game played on.
Her nudity was hotel cherubim.
I got up when she dug out her bra and then plugged her hairdryer into the socket by the mirror. When the bathroom door was locked, I heard the dryer go and her humming over the top of it.

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