Saturday, April 6 – 10:40 pm – The Conservatory at The Hyatt Hotel in the Bellevue
“So anyway, that old fat bastard told her that if she didn’t like the window sidings, then she could fix the goddamned thing herself! Can you believe it?” The man, Henry, according to his name tag, laughed like a hyena at his joke, which I just discovered was a joke. His face was plump and tomato red, and his eyes squinted as he bent over and gasped for air in between his squealing laughter. To say he was heavy would be giving him quite a bit of credit; the man could barely squeeze into his cheap XXXL suit. His palms were sweaty, and a little bit of moisture left his hand every time he slapped me on my arm, leaving a wet handprint on my right shoulder jacket, which I was not particularly fond of.
“I mean seriously,” he continued. “Could you imagine? Fixing it herself. Oh geez Louise, what a mess that would have been. Am I right?”
He slapped me again on my right side, and I did everything I could to form a good smile with enough emphasis to convince him it was authentic. I chuckled softly, just to let him know that I heard his joke, and took another sip of whatever yellow drink I grabbed off the table. It tasted like gin.
“So anyway,” he said. “You could imagine the look on the son-of-a-bitch’s face when she told him that he better get back outside and finish the job. Boy howdy, better him than us, huh? Huh? Am I right?”
He broke out into laughter again as he slapped the side of my arm another time. I laughed softly, once more out of courtesy, and quickly chimed in to change the subject before the next round of stories came out.
“Oh, you’re right,” I said. “But hey, real quick, I’m looking for someone, maybe you could help me.”
“I might. Who are you looking for?”
“I’m looking for a brunette about five foot six or so; a hundred and twenty pounds. Her name’s-”
“No, not Chelsea. It’s-”
“Oh, you mean Marissa. Hey Marissa! Get over here. This guy’s looking for you.”
“No, no…it’s not Marissa. Her name is-”
“Who’s looking for me?” Marissa asked. She was wearing a skintight black cocktail dress, which quite seductively showed a little bit of everything while still maintaining an elegant level of class. Her glistening brown hair hung down two inches past her shoulders, and she most certainly was not my wife.
“Umm, there’s been a bit of a mistake,” I said, somewhat flustered. “I was looking for someone else.”
“Henry, get your ass over here!” The voice came from a group of men standing in a corner on the other side of the room.
“That’s my cue,” Henry said, waddling past Marissa and me toward the group of men. I turned back to Marissa.
“I’m sorry for the confusion. I was looking for a woman-”
“What’s your name?” she asked me.
“Leonard. From accounting,” I said, glancing down at the name tag I took earlier.
“No, you’re not,” she says, smiling. “I work with Leonard, and you sir are no Leonard.”
“Oh, ugh, I am Leonard, although I know the Leonard you’re talking about too. I’m, ugh, a different Leonard.”
“A different Leonard, huh?”
“Yes. And I’m very sorry, but I have to go. Excuse me.”
I hurried to the other side of the room, weaving in between groups of people hoping to lose Marissa. When I got to the other side, I peeled the stick-on name tag off of my jacket and swallowed the rest of my complimentary gin drink.
The Conservatory was a stunning room. Modeled as it would if it were an outside plaza, its glass ceilings stood about sixty feet above us. They opened the way for sunlight during the day, while at night, providing a beautiful scene of the moon and even the occasional star for those lucky enough, or smart enough, to glance upward. Not that there was any reason to because, at eye level, there was plenty to look at. Cherry wood leather chairs, which felt softer than pudding, were scattered about amongst tables dressed in black linens holding glassware, complimentary drinks, and a spread of cheeses and charcuterie that would impress any culinary enthusiast. All of which surrounded a fountain, at least fifteen feet in diameter, centered squarely in the middle of the room.
I looked out of one of the windows and saw the top of a rain covered roof, instantly remembering that despite feeling so small in such ample space, I was still twelve floors above anybody on the street. I had been stealthily surveying the party but hadn’t spotted my wife yet. Except for the run-in with Marissa, everybody had just believed me to be Leonard from accounting. The real Leonard is somewhere around here without a name tag, but thankfully he hadn’t spotted me yet either.
I placed my empty drink down on a nearby table and was about to take another walk around the perimeter when Marissa found me and cornered me against the wall.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Leaving,” I said, walking past her and toward the door. I walked out of the room and pressed the button for the elevator when she joined me at my side.
“Where are you going?”
“You ask a lot of questions, Marissa.”
“Yes. That usually happens when I meet a man with no name, no reason to be here, and no explanation on why he is.”
“How often does that happen?” I asked. I glanced at the numbers on the elevator and wondered why it was taking so long to arrive. Marissa just smiled at me.
“Can I come with you,” she asked, looping her finger inside of my belt loop. The elevator dinged as the doors open.
“Look,” I tell her, pushing her hand away. “The truth is my name’s not Leonard. It’s Sam. I’m here because I think my wife is cheating on me with a man who works in your office. I haven’t found her yet, and I don’t think I’m going to.”
I walked inside the elevator cabin, and she followed me in.
“What are you doing?” I asked her.
“Ratting you out,” she said with a devilish smile. Then she pressed the button for XIX and said, “that is, of course, unless you have a drink with me and keep me company.”
“I don’t think so. You seem like a very nice girl-”
“Is that what you think?” she asked.
“Somebody thinks you are.” I pointed to the diamond ring flashing itself off of her left hand. She twisted it around and shielded her hand from view.
“My husband is fucking a twenty-two-year-old hostess right now if you must know,” she said, looking away. “Frankly, I’m feeling a little lonely about it.” She placed her right hand on my shoulder, concealing her left behind her back. “You seem to be in somewhat of the same predicament. Let’s not spoil this. Why don’t we deserve to have the same happiness as our worst halves.”
I wanted to tell her that my wife’s adultery was only a suspicion, but the doors had already opened at XIX, and she lead me toward the bar. I couldn’t’t tell how old she was, although I would guess probably the same age as me: Forty. Her ass was shapely and showed off her evident passion for regular exercise. Her heels clicked on the tile floor, and we sat down at the bar.
“What can I get you folks?” the bartender asked.
“Two Makers Mark Manhattans,” she said. Her traveling right hand found itself on my leg.
“Listen,” I said to her. “I don’t think I can do this. I haven’t caught my wife cheating yet and-”
“Just relax, Sam. Have one drink with me, and then you can leave.”
“Okay. That sounds fair.”
Sunday, April 7 – 01:22 am – Room 1430 The Hyatt Hotel at the Bellevue
Marissa’s arm curled around my chest and lightly squeezed the spot where my right shoulder and my neck meet. Her fingers traced the right side of my body ending behind the tip of my ear. Her lips kissed the opposite side of my neck, and her body curled up against mine underneath the sheets.
The throbbing scab in the back of my head had internally blown open, and a barrage of unattachable thoughts floated around like ping-pong balls in a whirlpool.
I couldn’t even remember how it happened. The room was morphing and spinning. I burped up some bourbon and swallowed it again, burning my throat as it went back down.
I pushed away from Marrissa as I leaned off of the bed.
“Where are you going?” she mumbled, half asleep.
“I need some water,” I said. “And some fresh air.”
She didn’t respond, and I slinked away into the bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror, naked, with my eyes red and my skin raw. I blinked several times to get a clearer picture, but the image in the mirror appeared the same. I splashed some water on my forehead and used a nearby glass to take a sip.
I felt dirty, which was the only thing I for sure felt.
I turned on the shower faucet and twisted the nozzles until the water grew to a level of hot I preferred, and entered behind the glass door. The water numbed my body. I opened my mouth and let it fill the inside above my throat, swallowed it in one gulp, and then repeated. I had no energy for soap, so I let the hot water do what it could until my fingertips pruned. Then, I stepped out, drying myself off with two nearby hotel towels. I wrapped one of them around my body and walked out of the bathroom, hoping my mistake had left me. Instead, she was sprawled out on the bed, taking up seventy percent of the space and ninety percent of the sheets. I walked over to a table near the window and checked my phone. There was a message from Jake:
I replied No and hit send. Then I sat at the desk, holding my phone, and watched the rainfall from the window. I cried, but I wasn’t sure quite why. Maybe I cried because of the guilt and shame I felt for cheating on my wife. Maybe because of the embarrassment and shame I felt for my wife cheating on me. Maybe it was because I wasn’t sure whether my wife was cheating on me. Maybe it was because I realized the memories of the past were just that, memories, and whatever happened in the future will now have to find its way around this. Whatever reason it was, I cried. I cried long and hard. I cried until all the alcohol absorbed itself in my liver, until the rain stopped pelting on the outside of the fourteenth-floor window, and until the battery in my phone died from me continually checking it. I cried through all of this, and long after.
Sunday, April 7 – 01:43 am – Jake’s Apartment, Richboro
I pulled a cigarette from my pack and put it in my mouth. I patted my pockets briefly but realized I had no matches. My phone vibrated in my pocket, and I flipped it open to see who it was. It was Sam, replying to my text from earlier. I had asked him whether or not he had found his wife cheating on him at the Bellevue Hotel. Of course, he didn’t see her. How could he have?
“What? Is it important?” she asked, tilting her head around the doorway and peering into the kitchen.
“No,” I shouted back. “Just a friend being dumb.” I grabbed the open bottle of wine and two glasses and walked back into the living room with the unlit cigarette still dangling from my mouth.
“Hey,” I said. “You wouldn’t happen to have any matches on you, wouldn’t you?”
She patted down her coat pocket and pulled out the Hotel Bellevue matchbook.
“Good thing you gave me these the other day, huh?”
“Good thing,” I said, grabbing one and striking the tip. “So, what were you saying before about Sam?”
She grabbed a wine glass and took a sip.
“He’s been acting very strange recently,” she said. “Today, he grabbed me after breakfast and kissed me differently. It was so weird. Then I watched him in the car as he stared at me through the blinds in our house. He just stared at me for, like, a full minute. It was so odd.”
“Wow,” I said, taking a sip from my glass. “Do you think he feels guilty?”
“Guilty? From what?” she placed her glass down on the table as her face formed a horrified expression. “Jake, do you think he’s cheating on me?”