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"The Hotel Anthology"

a series of short stories by Robin Roberts

My Hotel Room • "Furniture" • My Massage • Room Service • The Banquet Room • Room Service 2 • In The Hallway • The Laundry room • The Garage

(Also see The EMF Trust)

The Laundry
by Robin Roberts

I made a mistake this afternoon.

I was planning to go to the garage from the Lobby to retrieve my car and drive to an appointment I made with an old friend. The elevator seemed to be taking forever to arrive at the Lobby level, so I just decided to walk down the two flights of stairs to the garage.

Looking around the Lobby, I saw a sign that announced "Stairs" on a brass plaque attached to a massive oak door with impressive brass hinges and hardware. Pulling on the door-knob immediately proved that the door was unquestionably not a hollow-core, twenty-nine dollar door from the local "ACE Hardware" store. The stairwell was well lit and showed a very broad stairway made of concrete poured into an iron framework, with two-inch diameter handrails.

I started down the carpeted steps, taking them two at a time, hit the mid-floor landing and bounded over the railing on my way to the garage floor. When I looked forward, the sight before me brought me to a full, complete stop: frozen in my tracks and momentarily unable to breathe.

Three females, wearing absolutely nothing but thigh-high stockings, high-heels, and chains, pushing what appeared to be a canvas laundry carts. Somehow I knew that there must be a laundry service somewhere in The Hotel, but I never, in my wildest imagination, thought it would look anything like this. Each girl had chains from wrist to wrist; a short "hobble" chain from ankle to ankle; and chains around their waists which disappeared between their legs to be fastened at their belt, front and back. Each cart had a chained girl. They could walk around their basket, but they would not be allowed to travel very far from it. The three females stopped pushing their baskets and looked in my direction, and then looked around as if to see if I was alone, or maybe I was a potential threat or something. They all had quizzical looks on their faces.

The middle girl in the line of carts pressed an index finger to her pursed lips in an international sign ordering me to silence and again looked in every direction to find the slightest movement of the smallest item in their limited universe. She then extended her index finger in my direction and gracefully hooked it signaling a "come here" message. I looked to see who she was signaling; and when I found no one there, I pointed my index finger at my chest and gave this "who me" look. She immediately shook her head up and down indicating that she was "talking" to me. I carefully stepped forward and took her leash; I continued to look in all directions around me as if I expected some unseen beast to attack. When I was very close to the girls, number two took my right hand and grasped it with an apparent feeling of the captive princess finally seeing her white knight arriving on his charger, ready to do battle with a dragon and save her from whatever terrible fate awaited her. I withdrew my hand from between her breasts and she immediately changed her composure.

She drew her back up straight and said, "I'm sorry, Master. I didn't know what I was doing; please forgive me."

"Forgive you for what, why are you chained like that, and what is your name?" What a brilliant conversationalist you are, I thought after bombarding her with a staccato of questions. She looked me square in the face with an almost unbelieving look: "Didn't John send you?"

"No, I don't know John, and I am a guest of the Hotel, and why are you chained like that?" "Oh, I am so very sorry, Master, and please forgive me for speaking." This lady had my curiosity going now. "Who is John?" brought a look of a cornered cat to her entire body. She was in fight or flight mode. When she denied knowing of whom I was speaking, I asked her if she would like for me to turn this matter over to Mildred, the Senior Staff Advisor. That question brought complete and total capitulation. "Please, Master, please forget you have seen or talked to me!!" I said, "Tell me the whole truth, or it is upstairs to speak with Mildred."

"Master, please, the less you know, the safer I feel. Besides, if you don't know, no one could ever make you tell," was her curious answer.

"The whole story, now, or I go upstairs to Mildred," brought tears and the story.

She had been assigned to John's room when had been a guest at The Hotel some time back. He told her that if she were "behaved and served him well," he would affect her "rescue" from The Hotel. I thought to myself that this "white lie" could be used with many of the Staff to get anything I wanted. Was this John's modus operandi, or did he plan to return to her in the future? I was afraid that only John himself knew for sure. She said that she had intentionally misbehaved so that she would get laundry duty. She knew the laundry was on the same floor as the garage. Once here, she had told the other girls in the laundry of her plan, and for whatever reason, they all had agreed to help her with her "escape." After telling me "her little secret," she suddenly became very quite, and then very fearful. If I knew her secret, how could she be assured that I wouldn't tell someone else? That would be very "ungood" for her future! She asked that I come closer to her and very, VERY softly took my hand and began to kiss it in a manner that would cause Jell-O to turn to concrete.

"Please, Master, can this be our secret? I don't expect to be in the laundry much longer; then I could be assigned to your room."

I looked at her, and then the other two girls and said, "It would seem that all three of you are guilty of conspiracy before the fact," which elicited looks of total fear. "If I were to ask The Hotel management, would all three of you agree to be assigned to my room?" As if by magic, they transformed into something that looked like those little bobble-head dogs that you see in the back window of automobiles. You know that little dog whose body is perfectly still while their head bobs in a continuous, agreeable little yes-yes-yes mode. Now all I had to do was to mention my request to someone at the front desk that all three are to be assigned to my room, but in such a manner as to not raise questions about when and where I might have seen or talked to the three of them.

Maybe I should wait for a day or two, or maybe three or four before I make my request. That will cause them to be very fearful that I had forgotten them but then very grateful for finally having them assigned to my room.


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