The lady in room 6038 looked beautiful. She really did. I don’t know much about fashion like that, but you can tell by the shoes, can’t you? What do you think, $500 a pair? More maybe. I wouldn’t be surprised. She smelled so good and her skin was as smooth as cream. I liked the scarf she wore in her hair and I was going to say so when she held her hand up to my face and said: “No you don’t. Don’t think I give you people tips. You do the job – the hotel pays you plenty I know. I understand hotels. You want more you ask the manager for a pay rise and see what they give you. I don’t subsidise you people. If you don’t like it, get a better job.” And she left the room then and walked down the corridor. I once saw this painting someone had done where they had covered their hands in liquid mud, or clay – maybe it was paint but I don’t think so. They had pressed them all over a large white wall, in a circle. I think it was just one person who did it because all the hands were exactly the same size. It made a pattern that went round and round until they filled the wall. You could see where they had put too much on their hands and it had run down the walls and some had puddled on the floor. Some of the handprints had really long fingers because of the dripping mud – or whatever it was – that made them look like really long alien fingers. That’s what it was like. The mud had dried hard, of course. Rock solid. I don’t know how long the painting – the picture, whatever – had been there, but the mud was dry and looked like it would be tough to shift even with some iron wool and a scraper. I guess they could just brush over the wall with white paint again in the end. I don’t know. Anyway, it wasn’t all the same colour: Some bits were a pale, sandy brown colour where the mud had been thin, and I suppose watered down too much, and others were really dark and thick. Parts were like the colour of the foam stuff you get in the middle of a Mars Bar – not the caramel, the other stuff, I don’t know what it is – and the rest was the colour of the actual chocolate on the outside. So, as I say, that is what it was like. That is what it reminded me of. And I remembered seeing it so well because it became the family joke, you know? All families have them. We all knew we were thinking the same thing when we saw the handprint painting, but the funny thing was it was Mom who said it, and Mom is not one to say things like that; so when she said suddenly out loud, “It looks like someone has wiped poop all over the wall”, we all laughed. So you see why I would remember that, why I was reminded of it as I tried to scrape the shit the beautiful lady had left smeared around the edge of the toilet bowl in the bathroom of room 6038.
Giles Ward is an advertising copywriter and author based in the UK. Through Impress Books he has published two novels, 100 Ways To Improve The World and The Price of Everything. His more recent works in include Where Beauty Is, a novel centered on the fictionalized biography of an artist, and Spill (some stories), a collection of short stories published by Watchword eBooks.
He has a great love of the short story as an art form and feature links to and reviews of great short stories on his website.