I couldn’t believe it. The door had shut behind me as I tried to avoid dropping the room-service tray which I was laying on the floor outside my room.
On one side of the door were my cell phone, my card key and all my respectable clothes. I was on the other dressed only in sweatpants and a green cotton T-shirt, both with a small complement of holes, and which were comfortable clothes that I normally wore only to bed—and then only when sleeping alone.
In other words, I was stuck, barefoot and shabbily dressed, in the hallway with the realization that there was no way to get back in my room slowly making its way past my denial.
I pounded on the door a couple of times before giving up and walking down the hall. 9:30 PM. Should I go down to the lobby and ask for a new card? That would be the logical thing to do, wouldn’t it?
But, it was 9:30. I had no idea what time people have dinner in Mexico on Saturdays. What if I walked straight into the after dinner rush? Or even the pre-dinner rush. No, it would probably be a better bet to try to find a maid or a room-service waiter and ask for help.
So I walked the deserted halls searching for someone, anyone, dressed in the uniform of the service staff. But, of course, if you do something as dumb as locking yourself out of your room, universal karma will insure that you get what you deserve: namely that nobody will be around to help.
Shouldn’t there be a phone with which to call the lobby?
Evidently not. I walked in despair, noticing for the first time that the hotel was a huge affair. If this was just one floor, then the sum total of rooms must be enormous. There was no way that the lobby would be deserted.
And, I suspected that the lobby staff would be perfectly polite but, behind the veneer, there would lurk thoughts of Are all gringos this stupid?
No, I would wait until a little later to go down to the lobby, and then only if I was unable to find someone to help.
I noticed another room service tray on the floor outside a room. Had I come full circle? Was this my own room? No. It was 463, and I was in 419.
On a whim, I followed the signs to the ice machine. I didn’t know why. Maybe there might be someone there. Someone I could ask for help.
There was no one there, of course. So I walked by the ice and into another hall. This hall had a grey door in it, the first I had seen that wasn’t brown. It had no number, so I pushed it open.
Perfect. Two carts of the type that the maids use to transport cleaning supplies greeted me. A rack full of towels lined one wall. I was surprised to find the lights on in the empty room, but this didn’t stop me from going inside; I could sit on a couple of towels until a more reasonable hour and then go to the lobby.
There seemed to be a small hollow between one of the carts and the far wall which would be perfect for my purposes. I walked over for a closer look.
I don’t know who was more startled. She yelped and I jumped back, slamming bodily into the towel rack behind me. She was dressed in an old stained pair of shorts and a white T-shirt which wasn’t in the best shape and was seated on a couple of bath towels with a worried look on her face.
I laughed until I noticed the sour look I was getting, and, without wondering if she spoke any English, I sat down beside her.
“Hi,” I said. “Lock yourself out?”
◊ ◊ ◊
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine writer with over a hundred stories in seven languages. He ia a winner in the National Space Society’s “Return to Luna” Contest, the SF Reader short fiction contest and the Marooned Award for Flash Fiction. His short fiction has appeared in Pearson’s Texas STAAR English Test cycle, The Rose & Thorn, Albedo One, The Best of Every Day Fiction and many others. His latest book, Siege, is a science fiction novel published in 2016 and his ebook novella, Branch, was published in 2014. He also has two reprint collections, Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places and Virtuoso and Other Stories (Dark Quest Books). The Curse of El Bastardo is a short fantasy novel. www.gustavobondoni.com