My hotel is a significantly large one in this town. It is a large building that lords of the town, and I often see people look at its flashing neon lights 14 floors above the street with wonder and awe. My colleagues know that I stay here, but I stay at a subsidized floor with simple furnishings without a TV but with a charm that reminds me of the Cold War. God, how I miss the Cold War, Judi Dench said in some James Bond film, I find that I miss it too, but without the murder and espionage. The furnishings are simple but the view of this Eastern European town is good. It is night-time now and I can see the buildings opposite full of life. On one floor a couple is dancing, like they usually do. A few windows away I can see a man sitting at a computer. I see him at that position throughout the day. Another window into an apartment gives me a view of a bald man’s life who comes to the balcony to smoke, blowing billows of cigarette smokes into the cold air.
The evening shift at the hotel is managed by The Receptionist. She is a slender woman, brunette, and her hair falls below her shoulder gently kissing her elbows and back. She has wide curls in her hair and her mouth is set firm and thin. In general, she is pretty easy on the eye. She is the only one of the wonderful ladies at the Hotel who speaks English and although she stutters and mumbles through some of her words, her appeal makes up for it.
I don’t know what race she mistakes me for, but her surprise at mine mentioning the land of my birth was a little embarrassing. I wonder is this is racism, or just me being stupid. I told her where I was from, and she gawked, and looked at my passport with a slight bit of shock. Her hair was a little damp from the rain outside and yet, I could see that it was done up well. I am an admirer of women’s hair, and I’m trying very hard not to come off as a creep, but unfortunately, the unfettered truth is like that. The Receptionist looks at my passport and up to my face, and is confused. I find that I am getting a little more annoyed by the second. God’s cock woman, get on with the formalities.
Since I am a foreigner in this land, I have to have my passport on me at all times. I have to present it in the bank, in the library, in the Hotel, etc. It is tedious, but by now I am getting a little more used to it. She hands me back my passport and for an instant our fingers brush against each other. I notice that her fingers are very warm. I look up to see her face but she has turned away and is now at the far end of the Reception, getting out a bottle of water from the fridge. She drops it and bends over to pick it, and in the brief moment of her bending over I notice the tattoo on the small of her back. It is a bird with its wings outstretched. From where I stand, it looks like an albatross.
For a moment, unbidden images of imagined sex and debauchery fill my mind. I can see her tattoo contract and relax as she undulates to the rhythm and shake myself to get rid of the sexual imagery. I may have lust but I am not a voyeur. Sex is my private indulgence, and in public I don’t engage in eye-fucking. It is cheap and every time this happens, my face goes blank and I have a slobbering glassy-eyed expression that make me look stupider than I am.
The Receptionist turns to face me and she hands me the bottle of juice. I take it from her and this time too our fingers brush. I wonder if this is some perverse ritual with the woman, but I take no notice. I put the bottle of juice in my bag and I ask her for the keys. She asks me my room number, I tell her, and she hands me the keys. She places them on the table and her hand is still on the fucking keys.
Now I am a bit cautious at this kind of thing. I could be misreading the signs, I am tired and cold and hungry. At the same time, I can read between the lines. I gingerly try to snatch the keys from under her hand, but nope, our fingers still brush against each other. It sends chill down my spine and a tickle up my arm. I can see her eyes now, grey and cold, but there is a light of warmth somewhere. Goddammit, I have to lay off the cider. Either that, or this woman is genuinely hitting on me. A third alternative is that I am a narcissistic prick who thinks subconsciously that his twisted and depraved mind is to be taken seriously. I am more comfortable with the third alternative.
I mean, this isn’t the first time that the Receptionist was a little careless with her upper limbs. A few days ago, she was giving me directions and her hand dropped and brushed against my thigh for a second or two longer than what I was comfortable with. Now, don’t get me mixed, she is extremely attractive, her grey eyes and brunette hair are magnets. Her tattoo is a jewel, certainly, her slender frame makes up for terrible English, but hot damn. I am not used to being touched, brushed and patted unexpectedly. I am not used to having my fingers brushed by receptionists, much less by receptions who look like heroines from the 1950s, with grey eyes and nice hair to boot.
I walked to the elevator awkwardly. I cringe and mince sometimes and this is one of those times when I have to mince and cringe. I cringe because I find that my Lust is returning in full force, and I cringe also because I find the Receptionist to be, well, someone worth lusting after. I am now sitting in my room, dreaming of the albatross.