"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
"Hotel Girl"

Wrote this a while ago, on or around Oct 24th 2004. The title, as you can tell, is very creative.

Just something else I'll never do anything with.

These days it's all Melissa can do to get through the night without resorting to the heaviest of the heavy metal. Bands with names like Anal Cunt, Napalm Death, Carrion. Songs that don't so much have lyrics as verbal train wrecks. Music that people with tinnitus use to sleep.

Flip's policy is no music when riding the counter, but Flip had been well-known to smoke through his own night shifts, back in the early Jurassic. Perversely, the Good Morning Sunshine Inn had been one of the first to jump on the clean air anti-smoking bandwagon when the laws had first started getting passed around. Probably that was about the same time Flip decided he was too old to run the desk and started hiring a long string of recovering drug addicts, alcoholics, gamblers, ex-prostitutes, ex-cops, ex-cons - hell, to hear Flip tell it, everyone who used to be anyone had worked the Sunshine desk.

Having watched her father succumb to lung cancer, puffing merrily awake to the last, and entirely uninterested in altering her own admittedly bleak view of reality, Melissa instead adjusts the headphones perched on her skull. Too tired to bop, too tired to even really follow the cheesiest of the cheesy pop hooks. It may be time to break out the Melt Banana, but it's hardly half past two; she'll be left with three hours of lighter ammunition.

In college, she was lucky to get three hours a night. Now it's all she can do not to pass out where she sits.

Her subconscious eyes over the board with the room keys hanging off it. Tallies this against the scribbles in the log books. Sends a message down her arm reminding herself that the note to Lenore, the morning cleaning lady, has already been written, just as her hand twitches towards the pen on the countertop.

This time of night, the only people coming in are going to pay hourly. Melissa puts a check next to these room numbers on the ledger, so Lenore will know to double up her gloves and be extra careful about needles.

Junkies coming in to score has only happened twice on Melissa's shift, but after the first one scared the hell out of Lenore, whose father had been on the job for fifteen years and had recounted stories of other cops getting stuck with needles, Melissa worked out their little system.

The other customers will come in pairs, or one will pay and get the key, while the other waits outside, nervous or drunk or just high enough to be down for it. People with unopened boxes of condoms distending the lining of their pockets, tubes of lubricant stuffed into their overnight bags. Melissa has more than once brought up the possibility of selling sexual aids and protection behind the counter to Flip. He asked her how she would feel with dildos hanging off the hooks next to the keys, and while there is certainly no fear of the great plastic phallus there, she can easily imagine being startled every time she turns around to check the board.

Everything now is old hat for her. She has seen it all, and has dealt with most of it admirably. She has given statements to the police, witnessed the aftermath of a murder, interrupted a rape in progress, and dealt with countless drunks whose life had funneled them through forty years of trash just to deposit them in front of her, their sole wish to take her underwear off with their teeth. Two years on now, and all she has left is habit.

The first third of the shift she'll spend with more popular stuff, Top 40, Europop, Teeny Bopper shit, edging into indie. By the time she's getting bored to tears, she's into industrial, to the metal. For the past year she's been ending the night with classical. She likes the mood it sets for her as she walks out through the so-called bullet-proof doors to the street. Bach as the morning light paints the scarred thick plastic of the automatic doors agrees with her. Sun unseen on the far side of skyscrapers, nothing more than a promise.

Now, though, getting into the deep yawns, she reaches under the counter for her box of CDs. Eventually she'll make the move to a purely digital medium, no discs, no tapes, but she doesn't want the added worry of being mugged. And there is something in the jewel cases and gaudy paper inserts that makes her nostalgic for an otherwise understated adolescence.

The way it works is that someone will come in through those bullet-proof doors and she will, in a single glance, determine enough about them to decide if she's going to bother taking the headphones off. Some people have insisted this instant judgment of a person's worth is a backlash against years of unsatisfactory relationships and sexual encounters.

Melissa knows it's nothing more than a finely honed survival instinct. Sharing the water hole in deep jungle kind of shit.

No less than a third of the potential customers who darken her proverbial doorstep are in some way insane. Their insanity, she feels, is infectious. She has argued, strenuously, with Flip on this. If she allows their madness-laden words to enter her ears, she will slowly lose her own mind and become a brainless, hotel-crashing drone. And thus: The expensive ears and thrashing discordia of Slipknot.

Another third of her clientele are simply so boring that their mind-numbing conversation will driver her into yet another suicidal depression and Flip will have to find someone else willing to work in this neighborhood at these hours who won't steal from him, masturbate with the office supplies, sell drugs from behind the counter, or run a prostitution ring out of one of the rooms.

She has never been sure if the prostitution business angered him because he didn't get paid rent for it or because he wasn't getting any ass out of it. Either is likely.

Having dealt with all of these problems in previous employees, Flip is somewhat lenient towards Melissa's peculiarities.

May 22, 2005 8:05 AM

(Anal Cunt)++

With songs like "I snuck a retard into a sperm bank", "You're pregnant so I kicked you in the stomach", "The Internet Is Gay" and "Kyle From Incantation Has A Mustache".... you just know you're swimming in quality.

That or a hoard of bad facial tattoos.

Posted by: solios at May 23, 2005 2:56 PM
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