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February 25, 2018

Tales from the night porter #1

Hotel

Ever curious what happens at Volkshotel at night? Otto is one of our nocturnal employees. While everyone in the hotel is sound asleep, he’s holding the fort by guarding the reception. And he’s got plenty of nightly tales to tell.

4:00 AM

The woman who entered the deserted lobby was someone I often see at the local bakery. We were never formally introduced, but I knew her name was Dolores.

Dolores wore a suede onesie with leopard print. She carried a pink backpack with a picture of a cat. I knew this Japanese cartoon style animal was popular amongst children, but I couldn’t remember its name.

Schermafbeelding 2018-01-25 om 11.03.11

Dolores’ long gray hair looked like it was glued to her head. Her face was kind of shiny. At first I thought she had been crying, but then I realised she was soaking wet from the rain. The wetness didn’t seem to bother her though.

We talked for a bit about nothing in particular. Cows and calves, as we Dutch call it.

She told me she had been living in the east part of Amsterdam for about 30 years. She met the love of her life in a bar near the Oosterpark. They got married a week later. Her husband died ten years ago.

After a perfect bit of silence, that wasn’t at all awkward, she asked me for a favour.

“No wait”, she said. “I need your advice. What I really mean is this: I’d like to tell you something and when I’m done, I need you to ask me a question. Am I making sense?”

“Perfectly”, I answered. “Go right ahead, Dolores.”

Dolores went ahead.

She was suppose to leave for Egypt in a couple of hours, but she just had this dream in which she was a car with a broken windshield. When she woke up, she had massive doubts whether or not to go through with the trip to Egypt. Dolores needed me to ask her if going to Egypt was the right thing for her to do.

“Never underestimate the importance of a broken windshield”, she said. “It can mean all sort of things.”

I nodded my head.

Then I asked her if going to Egypt was the right thing for her to do.

She closed her eyes and aimed her face at the sky. Her free hand became a fist.

“Ask me again”, she told me.

“Is going to Egypt the right thing to do for you, Dolores?”

She opened her eyes.

“No. It isn’t. He says that I shouldn’t go.”

Dolores thanked me. Then she left.

The next time I saw Dolores I stood behind her at the local bakery.

I stared at the cat on her backpack for a while and still couldn’t remember the name of the fucking beast.

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