The Hotel Exeter, established 1913 in Utica, New York. If you listen, she’ll share some of her memories — maybe not quite the way you expect.
When a building dreams, it dreams through you.
It took four attempts with her card key before Rachel got the door open. She stumbled into the room, tipsy from the unaccustomed two manhattans and feeling slightly embarrassed about her evening’s behavior. Flirting with another conference attendee! Letting him buy her drinks! Good thing tomorrow would be the last day of the conference.
The conversation had been mostly shop talk — hadn’t it? But not entirely. At least she’d had the sense not to prattle on about how “Young Alex” (that’s what she called him in her mind) was probably about her son’s age. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to run into him tomorrow or not. What if he thought she was some horny cougar?
As she removed her makeup, she scrutinized her reflection. Not too bad: only faint crow’s feet at the eyes; her chin and the skin at her throat were still firm. Her tummy was reasonably flat; her graying hair colored a natural-looking chestnut brown.
“MILF,” she said to the mirror, and giggled.
Then she told herself sternly that Young Alex probably hadn’t been thinking about that at all. Fit body or no, she was still fifty. And he was — twenty-whatever. Just some drinks to pass the time. But still….
She had a sudden urge to call up her husband and talk dirty into the phone. Poor Mark; he’d have no idea how to handle that. Snickering at the thought, she tumbled into bed. The alcohol put her to sleep in no time.
She dreamt that she and Mark were making love, in this hotel room; hard, driving sex that slammed the headboard against the wall. At some point, the man she was fucking turned into Young Alex. The scent of some oaky cologne mixed with sweat filled her nostrils as she dug her nails into his back.
He came before she did, with a loud groan, then rolled himself off her, leaving her still throbbing. Then he got up and started to dress.
She sat up. “Where are you going?”
Alex turned away from her as he straightened his tie.
“I have to get back to Albany. Don’t worry, I’ve taken care of the room and breakfast. Go ahead and sleep here tonight.”
“You said you’d stay the whole week!”
He walked towards the bathroom, still not looking at her, combing his pomaded hair back into place with his fingers.
“Things change. I’ll call when I’m free.”
He slammed the bathroom door as he came back out. “Look, Phyllis found out that the conference ended today. She expects me to come back home.”
Rachel jumped naked out of bed and dashed towards the heavy bakelite room phone sitting on a table against the far wall. She whirled back to face Alex, his cell phone in her hand.
“Let’s just explain things to Phyllis!”
She started to send a text when Alex dashed over and grabbed the handset away from her.
“Stop it, you dumb bitch!”
She leapt at him, nails reaching for his eyes, and he backhanded her — hard — with the heavy handset. The earpiece hit her square on the right temple with a sharp crack…
THUD. Rachel awoke, with her heart pounding like a jackhammer, faster, faster, her chest heaving as she tried to breathe. She had rolled almost crosswise on the bed, sheets tangled around her, and her head had come off the mattress and hit the bedside table.
Dehydration, she thought, and staggered to the bathroom for a glass of water. Easy on the cocktails. She took the first gulp of water so fast that some of it spilled onto her nightshirt. Calm down, relax.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, she drank from the glass more slowly, waiting for her heart to slow down. Now she really didn’t want to run into Alex tomorrow. As she sipped at the water, she tried to recall if he’d worn cologne. She didn’t remember that he had.
She found her phone and texted Mark.
Insomnia. Missing u. Love R
It would be good to get home.
Second image: Western Electric Model 302 phone, designed by the firm of Henry Dreyfuss. It was introduced in 1937. Source: Wikipedia