There are monsters on the other side of the door so I know I can’t open it. I can hear their little fingers scrabbling on the wood, I can see the shadows and light play as they shift their weight, as they try to find sure footing on their many-footed selves. I know they are going to get in eventually, but I can enjoy another twenty minutes, maybe. I have another thirty at the most.
What do you do with thirty minutes?
The room is stocked with a mini-bar. I marvel at the prices that I won’t have to pay, being dead and all. I look at the clock and then look in the fridge and drink two nips of Stoli vodka, one raspberry and one vanilla. I drink a coke to wash the sharp burn out of my mouth, and then open a can of mixed nuts and eat them all, watching minutes pass. I wish I had a cup to mix a drink in, but I can’t find any.
Seven minutes are gone. I hear screams outside. No one is prepared. It’s daytime, but you wouldn’t know it from my room. If you log on to one of those cut rate hotel room websites, you’ll find out that there are a lot of rooms for very cheap if you don’t mind getting rid of modern conveniences like windows. Daytime is apparent, though, from the daytime soap on one channel to the daytime talk show on another. Plus it’s 3 in the afternoon. Who would expect monsters now?
After I finish the nuts, I use hotel water and wash out the can, and then mix myself a raspberry vanilla vodka and coke drink, and it’s delicious. A little salty, like rim salt, like a margarita. I pretend I did it on purpose. I feel the first twinge of my body working to metabolize the alcohol and think about ice.
A monster throws itself at my door and an otherworldly screech follows. Thousands of razor sharp nails dig into the cheap wood and I wonder what sort of creature can’t get through a bad hotel door. Maybe I can fight? I look around the room and try to find a weapon. Everything is bolted down. Even the floor lamp has a chain welded to it. The television is fused with rubber to the shelf that its on. The coffee maker has a thin bicycle lock wrapped around its handle. I set some water to boil anyway. For tea.
I sip at my drink and try not to think about ice. There is a feeble attempt at beauty in the room in the form of two sailboat paintings. Lots of folks probably don’t look at the paintings in a hotel room, or if they do, they see two sailboats. It’s like a game of spot the difference. I realize that these are two different sailboats – they have different names and are laying differently on two different beaches. I think about the painter. How is he dealing with his monster problem? Six minutes have passed.
Another squeal is coupled with the sound of nails running down chalkboard. It stops suddenly, and is replaced with another sound, much worse. It’s nostalgic and horrible all at once, culled from large family Thanksgivings. A group of the monsters with silverware drag the tines of forks against plates from room service. I try not to listen, the sound makes my skin crawl. I suddenly realize that room service is a strange thing for a hotel this size and quality (I had to ask for new blankets twice, due to previous stains) and look around for a menu. It’s room service catered by the T.G.I. Fridays next door.
Could I order something?
I go back to my mixed nuts can and see that I did have cups for water, but they were in the bathroom. I would never have known that a raspberry vanilla coke is good with a bit of salt on the rim, though, and decide that my last 30 minutes on earth have been okay.
I’ve had a good time overall. I’ve known a few women, in the biblical way. That reminds me – I look for a bible, and see someone replaced the bible with a journal. It’s blank inside, other than a flipbook drawing of ice melting. It’s the least imaginative flip book drawing I’ve ever seen.
My door sags under a great weight and I see a yellow eye when the wood splinters. It disappears when it sees me. I rush to the minibar and down four more Stoli nips in quick succession. Cherry, orange, citrus, and then plain. I regret the last one almost immediately. Plain vodka is awful. I drink the last of my salty coke cocktail and let the alcohol numb the rest of me.
A strange percolating sound makes me jump, and I look around the room. The water in my coffee maker is boiling.
I fill two cups with boiling water, wait at my door. The hairy feeler of a monster stretches through the tiny hole they’ve made and I place the boiling water right in its path. A strange squeal of hurt and surprise follows and the monster hastily retreats. I smile to myself. I drunkenly stagger up from the door and spill the other two cups of boiling water.
I start to sing to myself, or at least hum a tune. It’s been a good life. I’m glad I never had to get old, or feel guilty about missing a kid’s soccer game. It would have been nice to be successful at something, but it turns out that it didn’t really matter. You can look death in the eye, know that it’s coming and put the water on to boil, but I suppose death expects tea. I’d like to surprise death instead, offer a cold cocktail, risk seeing death in the hallway. I grab a bucket and decide to head for the ice machine.