Photo: Cane Shade by Kondo Yukihiro
This story was originally written as an Writing Group exercise: to show only one side of a phone conversation, but still have it making sense.
“So you want to look around and take a few photos? And you’ll be paying us. How much? Ooh, bless you! Oh yes, I’ve still got her gloves, she left them on my counter and stomped out, all of a fluster. Mind you, she had other things on her mind at the time. Pre-occupied you could say she was. Oh, I don’t think I could let you keep them, it just wouldn’t be right. But taking a few photos of them wouldn’t hurt. It’ll cost you a little extra of course, for my trouble. You just name the day, ducky!
I’m afraid we’re not at our best at the moment. Truth is, we’ve not been for a few years now. Look how nice the weather’s been. If it was always this hot, there’d be no need for anyone to go abroad, would there? Ahhh, the best summer we’ve had for years, but we’ve only got a handful of clientele in. Says it all really. My Arthur, God rest him, would be heartbroken to see how bad it’s got. To think, he fought in Korea to keep this place open. Even though we didn’t buy it until 1965. And no, before you ask, my Arthur wasn’t at the front line. But he never was a well man, even as a boy. People think he had it easy as a supply clerk, but wasn’t it Churchill what said ‘An Army runs on its motor oil.’ Or was it Napoleon? Anyway, it was my Arthur what ordered the motor oil, thank you very much. Enough said on that particular subject.
Ah, but it was always me what had to shoulder the burden on the Home Front, if you know what I mean. True, it was him what thought of the name ‘Central Hotel’, but seeing as we were only a hundred yards from Central Station, he didn’t have to work too much with that one, now did he? Not that work was ever his strong point, bless him.
Yes, back to this young couple you seem so interested in. I can always tell the ones that aren’t married. They’re all over each other, for a start. To be honest, it was her that was doing all the touching. Trying to grab his derriere, she was. And his unmentionables, I shouldn’t wonder. All with a big grin on her face, the hussy. What he saw in a stick insect like her I don’t know. She could have done with a good meal inside her. But I think she had other ideas. Why the interest in her anyway? And how did you know she was here? I hope this is all above board…
Oh yes, he was trying to keep it decent. My Arthur was like that. Decent. A bit too decent, sometimes. I remember saying to him, ‘Now it’s legal, you don’t always have to be the gentleman.’ Not that it made much difference. But as I said, he wasn’t a well man.
So, this pair – they were all dressed in this flash sports gear. She was wearing a pair of those fingerless biking gloves. Rather appropriate, if you follow my line of thinking about her. Jezebel! Yes, I’m looking at them now – some modern material, I shouldn’t wonder. All sticky and sweaty. I shouldn’t like to think why. Oh, they’re not nice cotton ones like I used to wear when Arthur took me up Sutton to the tea dance. He always met me inside you know. Aye, I bet it saved him a fortune. You must know what a tea dance is? Ooh, it is hot today isn’t it? I’m quite perspiring myself!
But yes, this couple. I heard them whispering about what name to put down in the register. They must think I fell off the Christmas tree. He was wearing a shiny gold ring but she wasn’t. If she had anything about her, she would have bought herself a cheap ring, to fool the likes of me. Doesn’t happen these days, which is a shame. If we weren’t so short of guests, I wouldn’t allow them in. But I can’t afford to be choosy these days.
No, they’ve both gone. Just stayed one night and left. I saw her this morning, looking like she hadn’t slept a wink. Oh yes! She asked me something about her having a ‘mobile e-top up’. I says we’ll have no truck with druggies here! I threatened to call the coppers in and she was out like a shot. That was how she left her gloves here. I doubt she’ll be back.
He must have left earlier. Left me a nice tip in his room though. Nice looking lad. If I was a few years younger… I turned a few heads in my day, you know. Up Stanton Hill anyway.
So you say this lad’s been in the news? A footballer carrying on behind his wife’s back? Shocking! I’m not saying it’s all his fault, mind. It takes two to tango. And these modern women are more interested in their careers than looking after their men!
You never did say what newspaper you’re from. Oh, my! You’ve got to be joking! Actually, my Arthur insisted we only have the Mirror. Said it’s a cut above your shower. I don’t need your kind of publicity, young man. And I’ll thank you not to call me again. Good day!”