by Willem Myra
Miss Belte from 204 has an affair with Mr. Nuilta from 306. I know because I’ve installed hidden cameras throughout their rooms — being a porter comes with certain privileges, such as being able to go around unquestioned.
Miss Belte is a recluse. By her own choice or forced by someone else, that I don’t know. A guest for twenty-nine days, she’s never left the hotel once. She has her meals delivered to her room and when in need of small comforts — tampons, junk food, the occasional paperback — she bribes either me or Randy, the other porter, to go shopping for her.
She spends her average day watching TV and listening to music on her laptop, though it is not unusual to see her do yoga on the mahogany table in the living room. I have thirteen low-res black-and-white screenshots of her doing the Downward Facing Dog and the Bound Angle on my phone.
Miss Belte only leaves her room when Mr. Nuilta invites her over. This happens the second stuck-up Mrs. Nuilta goes window shopping. If Miss Belte’s phone rings thrice, she knows she’s desired upstairs. Before sneaking to the third floor, she changes into her sexy lingerie, applies abundant makeup and perfume, and hollows herself out. This she does by uncapping one of her big toes and letting the water pour out of herself and into the bathtub. The goldfish living inside her ribcage also slips out. She pats its murky scales with the tip of a bony finger and whispers it something — to behave, I suppose, though the recording does not come with audio. Then she’s off to her escapade.
If I’m off-duty or if there’s nothing urgent for me to do while Miss Belte and Mr. Nuilta are exploring each other’s bodies, I take it upon myself to keep company to her goldfish. I let myself into the room with the cloned card and go sit on the floor by the bathtub. The goldfish swims in circles as I read aloud puny headlines from online newspapers. Every so often I check on the live feed from Mr. Nuilta’s bedroom, so that I know when to leave.
Some days I take out my own goldfish, though I never allow it too close to Miss Belte’s. Instead I puke it into a glass of water which I then place on the border of the bathtub. The goldfish love to study each other from afar, as if to try and understand which one’s the exhibit and which the visitor. Soul gazing is what I call it.
Miss Belte’s water is titanium yellow while mine is baby blue. Me being an altruistic fellow, I share myself with her one drip at a time. She has yet to notice her water slowly turning the color of grass and, to be honest, I don’t think she’ll ever do. She neglects her wellbeing.
Her post-escapades follow the same routine. She gets back, fully undresses herself, and goes to the bathroom. Inert in front of the mirror, face an unflinching mask, she sobs quietly. Tears coming down her cheeks, down her chin, down her breasts. Afterward she grabs a tumbler and drinks herself full again. What little water is left on the bottom of the bathtub that she can’t manage to get inside the tumbler, she lets go down the drain. The goldfish, she swallows whole.
Willem Myra’s work has appeared in Litro, The Offing, Likely Red, and elsewhere. He lives in Italy with two cats and a stubborn case of rhinitis. More about him at willemmyra.wordpress.com.