A series of stories all set in or around the same Hotel Room. Room 7.
The young girl on reception looks at him and smiles.
“Yes please. “
She takes a key from behind the counter and places it in his hand. She doesn’t have to tell him where Room 7 is, he’s a regular. Same room, same time, every Tuesday. Regular as clockwork.
He walks along the corridor, third door on the right-hand side. He stops outside for a few seconds and then turns the key in the door. Time to see Anita.
Anita was a dancer at his favourite club in Shoreditch. It was 1998 and Shoreditch was still a shit hole back then. It was where the East End met the City. An adults playground where you could get drunk, snort coke, shag yourself senseless, be sick on the street then walk across the road into a different postcode, straighten your tie and suddenly become respectable again.
She was from Ghana and had the body of a black goddess. That first night he spent a fortune getting her to dance privately for him in one of the booths at the back of the club. Every time she finished he gave her another tenner to start again. At 2am when her shift was over, he was waiting outside. He hailed a cab and took her to the Wentworth just a few miles outside the City. Although it looked like a posh Hotel it was the kind of place where, if you asked discreetly, you could pay by the hour.
She pulled a CD from her bag and inserted it into a player next to the TV. “Funk Classics From The 70’s”. This was HER music, she was obsessed with it.
“Yum Yum” by The Fatback Band boomed out loud as they explored each other’s bodies, she grinded down hard on him as each bass note shook the tiny room. When they finally laid back exhausted and covered in sweat she insisted on listening to the whole CD. All seventy minutes of it. After each track she told him who the artist was, who wrote the song, who the bass player and drummer were, what year it was recorded. Yep, she was obsessed with the music.
It became a regular thing. Every Tuesday after her shift she’d meet him at the Wentworth in Room 7 and every time she’d bring along another CD. The Ohio Players, Fat Larry’s Band, Brass Construction, Parliament and War were all played loud in that room.
They became close. He never asked her about her work or if she saw other men and she never asked about his private life. He doubted she ever knew about his two failed marriages and three kids. Probably for the best, no point in complicating things.
They both had habits. He knew she was using. But he never judged. How could he? He snorted coke, smoked weed and drunk the best part of three bottles of Scotch during the week. It’s what got him through the day. An escape from the reality of what was a really shit existence. Her habits were much harder, but then they would be, her life was harder than his.
Then one night she just wasn’t there. He waited until it was light then went home. He went to the club the next day but there was no sign of her. In fact, he went back every day for the next two weeks until one night he heard the news from one of the bouncers. Anita was dead. Found at her flat. Overdose.
That was two years ago. He still sees her. Even though she’s gone. But he has to play the music, HER music. In THEIR room. She never speaks, just smiles, then dances. Sometimes she’ll blow him a kiss or give him a wink. That’s enough for him, it gives him the strength to carry on.
He takes the CD from his jacket pocket and slides it into the player. He hears the familiar click and whirling sound. He waits. “Galaxy” by War booms out and suddenly she’s there. Standing in the corner smiling at him. And she begins to dance…