That tap is driving me crazy. Drip drip drip. Pause- ok, that’s it, it’s over. Drip. Fuck! All evening long, nothing but that dripping. I may have to kill someone in a minute. The couple in the room next door maybe. I saw them come in when I went to get some ice. He was hairy and pug nosed. She was dying for a fuck. I could tell. It was in her body language. I tried to make eyes at her as her troll stooped to open the door but she wasn’t paying attention. Avoiding my eyes. I threw some ice at her, just a cube or two. “Ice cold in Alex!” I shouted “The receptions fucked but the lizards haven’t got the ice box yet!” Then her boyfriend opened the door and they darted into the room as quick as they could. Oh well. I’d tried to warn them, they’d get their comeuppance soon enough. Those lizards were crazy.
I’ve just finished an obscene phone cal to the editor. He wasn’t happy to hear from me. I’d called collect. No one on the staff is allowed to do that unless it’s an emergency, he made a big deal of this.
“it is an emergency you incredible prick!” I yelled into the phone “we’re trapped, you hear me, trapped!” “and we’re low on supplies” I added a second later. Lance had made off with the last of the gin into the toilet some hours ago and I was beginning to suspect I wouldn’t get another martini tonight.
“fuck you Raul” came the reply “just chill the fuck out man. Easy easy. It’s not easy being an editor you know.”
“Fuck you, I’m the one with my ass on the line! You don’t know what it’s like on the front you bastard. You’re too busy riding this fucking gravy train of yours! Without me your nothing! You hear me you prick? Nothing!”
“yeah, ok” he sounded far off. In the background someone was talking. “we’ll talk about this on Monday” I heard a clink of glasses.
“Are you at a cocktail party?!” I nearly snapped the phone.
“look I’ve got to go” he was distracted now. That usually meant he was getting head. Fucking editors get all the girls. “tell Raul not to call me anymore.”
“I am Raul!” bzzzzt. Too late, he was gone. Cocktails to drink, girls to screw, deals to make. He was going to take the Hashmark international. I wouldn’t see any of that action. Bastard.
I hung up the phone and made a mental note to piss in his coffee at the next meeting. That damn tap was still dripping. I couldn’t get in the bathroom to stop it though, Lance was in there and wouldn’t come out. At first I’d assumed he’d gone for a shit. Then as time progressed, I assumed it was a wank. Lance has to wank in the bathroom of any new place else he feels nervous. All those fucking art lessons had gone to his head. Probably too much Tipex. When he hadn’t come out after two hours I began to suspect he was probably stealing all the tiles. Without telling me. Redecorate his bathroom. Leave me to rot. My obscene phone call finished I banged on the door. He didn’t answer.
“Turn off that tap you selfish prick!”
Still no answer.
“I’m going to throw your suitcase out the window” I called.
“ok that’s it.”
I threw his suitcase out the window. Then, feeling much better about myself, sat down to write. Or rather type. I use a typewriter. Can’t hold a pen. Too risky it might fly off the page and stab into my leg. That’s how one of my cousin’s girlfriends died. She was a writer too. Hot as I recall. Or was that the other one? Was this the one with the mole?
Jesus I have a headache. I need more to drink. We finished the whiskey on the drive up here, all I had left in the world was that fucking gin and now Lance has run off with it somewhere. Some best friend that prick is. If I hadn’t already stolen the whiskey from his house I’d go back there and ransack the place.
That fucking tap! Shut up! Shut up you whore shut up! Shut the fuck uo!
Calm down. They’re just trying to psyche you out.
Holiday Inn carpet is repulsive. I’m looking at it now. Who the fyuck buys this? It’s like someone ordered 20 ft of the most hideous carpet in stock, then threw up on it just to make sure. They’re all freaks up here. Freaks, greasers or lizards. The woman on the front desk, she was a lizard. Lance told me so. We’d pulled off the motorway because he thought all the other drivers were staring at him.
“they think I’m a snowman” he explained.
“of course not!”
“well” he reiterated “I don’t think so”
“at least” he added “I hope not”
I thought about this. “you’d melt”.
“yewwwd meeaaalllt” he imitated my voice.
“you sneering prick!”
“yewww sneeeriiing preeek”
He was obviously crazy. I took the wheel and we went into the back of a Mondeo.
“smooooth!” Lance grinned devilishly.
We went into the holiday Inn. I waited behind a potted plant while Lance went up to the desk. The owner of the Mondeo could be anyone in here. If anyone approached me the plan was to throw soil at them till they backed off. A nearby man looked at me funny and I realised I’d said that out loud.
“Fuck him. If he looks at me like that again I’ll cut his throat and throw him in a lake.”
This I did mean to say out loud. He heard me and quickly shuffled off. I felt better and hid behind the plant again. I wished Charles was here. No Mondeo owning psyched up freak would start anything while I had a hulking great Negro with me for protection. Especially one as angry as Charles. He was meeting with his lawyers though. He’d just been banned from some Caribbean island for five years for speeding. He’d gone right into a cop car at forty in a twenty zone, then tried to sue the driver of the other car. He was crazy but I needed him now. If I didn’t make it to this interview in one piece I wouldn’t stand a chance of getting into Uni. Then I might actually have to work.
Jesus I’m tired. Nearly fell asleep then. Fucking tap kept me awake. I really should’ve killed the couple next door.
Lance came back after a good ten minutes. He came back just as I was deciding to make a run for it. A middle aged couple were looking at me in an odd way and I was beginning to suspect they wanted revenge. For what I don’t know, but they had that look about them. maybe it had been their Mondeo.
“they’re crazy!” he hissed crouching down behind the plant wioth me. There was barely room for one of us there, let alone two. Lance solved this dilemma by pushing me out into the open.
“you bastard!” first my olives now this!
He wasn’t listening. “that woman was looking at me really weird” meaning the woman behind the desk “it was really crazee. She kept asking me if I was alright. ‘Yes you stupid woman, I’m alright!’” he impersonated himself. He does that a lot. “She’s a local here like the rest of them. They’re all in on it.”
I was confused. “In on what?” People walking in the door were beginning to stare at the strange man talking to a potted plant. I smiled back at them and they turned away.
“calm down Raul!” Lance shouted in my ear. Several people nearby jumped. I think one old woman fainted. Either that or she had a heart attack. It didn’t look like she had any relatives there, no one rushed to help her. Eventually two of the staff came and carried her out a back door. Perhaps we’d be having her for breakfast tomorrow.
“we’ll be having her for breakfast tomorrow” Lance remarked grimly. I jumped. Since when could he read minds?
“what? No, Raul look, shut up. They’re going to eat us.” He explained this last part slow and carefully. I wished he’d hurry up. I was in half a mind to go grab another plant for me to hide behind. Instead I just tried to look nonchalant, like talking to plants was something I did every day and I don’t quite see the problem officer. One guy smiled at me as he came in the door. Perhaps he really did talk to his plants. Perhaps there are whole communities of closet plant conversationists we know nothing about. Perhaps they go on picnics and holidays and hold meetings together, organise traumatised plant support groups to listen to Rhododendron’s problems. I felt like I was missing out. I probably am.
“the whole towns in on it!” Lance was babbling now.
“what are you talking about?”
“Stop panicking!” he bellowed. The same several people jumped again. Everyone was edging away nervously from us now. I had no time for this.
“what do you mean you bastard?” I shouted back at him.
“don’t shout at me, I’m autistic, it’s not my fault.”
“what do you mean you autistic bastard?”
“they’re going to eat us!” he looked at me “they’re lizards, all of them, they lure tourists in here with this Holiday Inn and then they eat them! They’ve been doing it for years!”
“Where are lizards?”
“the staff, the woman behind the counter!”
“How do you know?” I asked. I felt it was an important question.
“she showed me her scales.”
I decided to make a break for it. If he was right I wasn’t staying around here.
“Did you get the room key?”
We took off across the lobby, not making eye contact with anyone, heading for our room. We would barricade ourselves in there all night and escape first thing in the morning still making the interviews in time. Halfway across the reception it occurred to me this was probably just another of Lance’s acid fantasies. I’d stuck to the whiskey on the way up here, but he’d dropped a tab or two. Possibly more. I never know with him. I was about to stop when I remembered lizards or no lizards that there was probably a very angry, possibly homicidal, Mondeo owner on the lookout for us too. It had probably been a cop car knowing my luck. Cops drove Mondeo’s. Great. Now we were wanted felons in this area. I kept on going for our room with Lance. We could lie low there. And there was always a chance he was right about the lizards.
We locked ourselves in the room tight like this was Rio Bravo and I was John Wayne. We argued about who was John Wayne till I told Lance he could be Dean Martin, which settled the dispute. We drank most of the Gin. I went out and got some ice for Martini mixing, and accosted our neighbours in the hallway with a friendly warning about Lizards and the reception area. There was still a chance Lance was right after all. He once told me that artists see the world differently and to him the world was Salvador Dali. I told him to pass the port. Still maybe he had a point. From our neighbours reaction though I guessed they might be undercover cops called in about the Mondeo incident. Luckily no-one at the station would’ve told them the lizards were connected, they would think I was a different case altogether. One for MI6. Good thinking there Raul.
Jesus I told you all this already. I’m falling asleep here, forgetting what I’ve written. I need another drink. No investigative journalist can function without being tanked up. And I have an interview tomorrow. I need a hangover.
I just brought this typewriter up from a bush outside. I think it landed on a squirrel. If there’s blood on these pages editor I apologise. Or I would if you weren’t a bastard. Lance walked into the room ten minutes ago and threw my typewriter out the window, then went to sleep. I was just sitting there typing about how I need a hangover tomorrow (and I still do) when Lance came in from the corridor.
“Where the fuck did you come from!? You’re meant to be in the bathroom!”
“Jesus Raul calm down!” he closed the door. “I’ve been at the bar.”
“then who the fuck is in the bathroom?!”
“I was” he frowned “then I went out the window.”
“you mean I could’ve turned that fucking tap off at any time?!” I nearly shrieked.
He ignored me. “they have a good bar.”
“What about the lizards?”
“what lizards?” he replied crossly. He walked across the room. “where’s my suitcase?”
“I threw it out the window.”
“Threw it out the window.”
Lance picked up the typewriter and threw it through the window.
“my fucking typewriter!” I nearly had a heart attack. I love the guy but sometimes he nearly kills me.
“I’m going to bed” he announced and turned off the light. I could hear people shouting outside, wondering what that crash was.
I went downstairs and onto the lawn, or whatever they call those grass verges round motels. A group of people had gathered round the typewriter and the bush it now lay in following its four storey fall. It looked kind of sad. I walked through the crowd and picked it up. They all stared at me.
“just testing its durability” I lied. They didn’t respond.
“it’s a writer thing” I added. They continued to stare. I stepped out the circle.
“fucking lizards” I muttered under my breath. I’m sure some of them heard me. I was past caring. Who was going to argue with a man who hurled typewriters out his window? Hopefully not the staff. There’s no way in hell I’m paying for that window when we check out tomorrow.
Fuck this. I need sleep now. I have an interview tomorrow. But first I’m stopping off at the bar. Grab some drinks. Check the skirts that pass me by, and the legs moving underneath them. I’ve never bedded a lizard girl before and I’d like to try. Or failing that just look enough to give me a good wank when I finally make it to bed. Then maybe a conversation with the plant. It winked at me when I came back in with my typewriter. I must ask it what it meant by that. Perhaps it’s a writer too. Whatever, till I find out, let’s try and manufacture some good times at 1am in a Holiday Inn in the middle of darkest England. I always liked a challenge.
An original Hashmark short story written by Raul Bloodworth in early 2006