"Hello?" She asked like she asked every night they spent apart together. He stood there in his room with the lights off, breath held, feeling compelled beyond belief to speak. Just like every other night, he was confronted without the means to do so. Her door slammed, and he slouched in to the ragged easy chair in the corner of his room.
He sat there stewing in his own ineffectiveness and lost track of time. Some notion snapped him out of it, and he breathed deep. Seeing his chest expand, he found a reserve to draw upon and stopped acting like a bum. Martin snapped the radio to the music station and was greeted with one of his favorites.
"...in other words, hold my hand, in other words, baby, kiss me..."
Martin danced around the room as he pulled his brown suit out of the closet and his shoe heel caught on the same snag of carpet that trapped him every night. He knocked the back of his head hard against the wall they shared. The song continued.
"...fill my heart with song, let me sing for ever more..."
He thought he was out of the game with the real whopper of a goose egg quickly rising at the spot on his head at the base of his skull. He surprised himself as he stood up, finished changing into the crisp brown suit and stepped back out to the hallway. This time he knew he'd find the nerve and rapped his knuckles roughly against the door. He waited in silence.
Jessica's cell reception went to crap and she cursed at no one in particular. God, this hotel could not get shittier. One night, she just had to survive one night on the road and she could get home safe and sound. Anyway, how cheap could her boss be? She wasn't getting mileage reimbursement or meals covered, and now she had to spend the night in this run-down dump of a roach hotel? The place was lousy with drunks and God knows what else out in the hallway, breathing heavy outside her door and probably beating the crap out of each other at a cost of by-the-hour just one room over. Whoever the John was next door must have been some extra creepy kind of old man by the music that kept driving through the paper-thin walls.
There was a knock at her door.
Jessica was pissed. She opened her room and for the second time that night found herself saying "Hello" to the empty hallway.
"...you are all I long for, all I worship and adore..."
The song grew, and she realized her neighbors had left their door open. She was fed up. She had to work tomorrow and then drive back five hours to get home. These idiots were going to catch a piece of her mind and could choke on it for all she cared. As she crossed the threshold the song stopped. She stood frozen for a moment and lost all focus on her rage. She searched the room for the radio but found only a tiny alarm clock unplugged sitting next to the bed. The room was filthy and covered with what felt like inches of dust. She heard something move in the room next door, room 411 - her room.
Returning, she slammed the door shut behind her, locked it, and stood stiff as a board against it. Her teeth rattled as she realized how cold her room had gotten. Her phone, still in her hand, lit up, and a moment later began ringing, breaking the silence. It was not her ringtone, but still, she recognized it.
"...in other words, please be true, in other words... I love you..."
Her teeth stopped rattling as she clenched her jaw in a mixture of terror and confusion. She answered it.
"I'm sorry about before. I just couldn't find the guts to go through with it. A pretty dame like you's gotta understand, right? Anyway, I've been workin' up the gumption all night to come a callin' for you and see if you'd accompany me on a date. Nothing special, just a show and some dinner down at the diner."
She could feel the icy breath of the speaker on her right cheek where the phone was pressed against it. Her right eye began to tear up. She couldn't respond. Not knowing what else to do, she stood waiting for the voice to continue. The silence was broken this time by the scuffing of the desk chair against the half-rotten wooden floor as it pushed away from the desk all on its own accord. She yelped then and almost dropped the phone, but the frost had made it stick to her hand.
"You know, or not. I understand, ladies need to... wash their hair, or freshen up, or something. God, is the room spinning for anyone else? HAH. Oh. my head's bleeding... I'll just be going now..." The voice trailed off. The window to her room began to open, struggling against its frame with a terrible groan. "I guess, I'll just leave out the back door. Sorry to bother you... Maybe we can get a raincheck? Tomorrow, same time - same place? You know I'm very persistent."
Marie heard a faint whistle through her phone and a second later heard a stomach-turning snapping of bones outside, far below her window. The call ended. She rushed to the window and searched the alleyway below, but there was no sign of any terrible accident or suicide. She didn't know what she was looking for exactly; didn't know if she wanted to actually find a sign to confirm her suspicions so she could justifiably check out or find the much-more likely sign that she was just imagining the whole thing.
Softly, as if coming from a couple of buildings away, she heard a big band complete with trumpets, trombones, and saxophones start up an all too familiar tune. She heard the smallest echo of a knock on her door. The sound reminded her of someone pulling a punch right before the moment of impact. The music blasted once again through the wall.
"...in other words, hold my hand..."
The song went on again. She heard a loud thump against the wall. There was a loud knock on her door. Martin was right. He was very persistent.