On Matters of Corruption

by Itai Rosenbaum

Her hair smelled of the first whiff of morning after a rainy night. That short window at 5AM, before anyone’s woken up, before the cars and trucks mess it all up with smoke and exhaust fumes. It was innocent and calm. I took another deep breath and slowly exhaled. I didn’t want to wake her. She looked amazing, resting beside me, her delicate arm resting on my stomach, rising and falling with my slow, methodical breaths. A few stray strands fell over her face and covered her lips. I was watching those curved arches, slightly parted, so I moved to brush the hair aside. As I did so, she stirred and her eyes blinked open, slowly.
“Did I fall asleep?” She murmured.
“For a little while.” I replied with a reassuring grin.
“What.. what time is it?” She asked, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
“It’s about 3 in the morning. We have the world to ourselves.”
“I’ll go and rinse up,” she lifted herself, and pecked me on the lips. She slipped out of bed, sending the thin blanket onto the floor. Hopping over to the en-suite toilet, my eyes followed her.

The room wasn’t luxurious, but it wasn’t some seedy motel either. I would never do that. It made me, and her, cheap. It may be a one-time thing, but there’s not reason why it shouldn’t be one for the books. Besides, I could probably write the room off as a business expense.

We met at a bar downtown. She said she was 19, I said I was 23. Neither was telling the truth. She was barely 16 while I was scratching 30. We hit it off, regardless. There were drinks, yes. There’s always drinks, but they only help bring out what’s already there. So we talked and we danced and we kissed. And now it was 3AM, and we were in the room, naked.

She walked out of the small bathroom, somehow looking better than before. She had that look in her eyes that she’d be willing to do anything right now, just as long as I was by her side. She would lose herself for me.
“Come to the balcony,” she said, “I want to look at the view.”
“Go ahead,” I motioned, “I’ll be there in a sec.”

We had to be careful coming here, of course. She was the governor’s daughter, and if the press had caught sight of her leaving the bar with someone like me, they’d have a field day. The governor’s daughter, front page spread. It’d be the end of me, that’s for sure. They’d bury me away, forgotten.

So I paid one of the bartenders a $100 to bring my car out to the back and we drove off and came straight here. No one followed us, we were safe. It was just me and this little creature, staring over the thigh high balcony railing out onto the pool underneath, the boulevard the hotel stood on, and beyond.
“I could dive down into the pool from here and have it all to myself. It’ll be hours before someone wakes up to use it.” She let out a small giggle.
“You’d also smash your head in on the pool’s bottom, too.” I stepped out of the bed and reached into my bag. The governor’s daughter spread out on the front page, that’d cause a riot.
“Spoil-sport,” she teased over her shoulder.

One hand was on the button, ready to press, and I moved closer to her. With the hand behind my back, I reached out and wrapped the other around her. Leaning in, I kissed her. Her sweet taste washed over my mouth. I pressed. Her tongue froze, half coiled around my own. Her eyes were wide open in shock, and I felt a warmth flow down my arm. I removed my arm from her waist and let her drop. She fell over the railing, and splashed into the pool. Within seconds the water around her began to turn red. I bent down and picked up the spent bullet casing. Heading back into the room I placed the gun and shell into a plastic bag. Swiping the room took a good 45 minutes. I showered, packed the rest of my things, and left.

I crossed the lobby. There was a lone concierge at the desk, looking tired and bored. The jazz music playing softly on the speaker system wasn’t helping him.
“Checking out,” I said.
“This early?” He yawned and ruffled through some papers.
“I have a flight to catch” I smiled at him.
“Sign here, please.” He handed me a slip of paper. A bill for 2 phone calls and some mini-bar items. I signed the bill, not signing my own name came naturally to me. Sure, signatures are all scribbles, but there still needs to be a name in there somewhere. It takes practice to sign a different name consistently.
“We hope you enjoyed your stay and would love to see you again.” He said it without emotion, this was automatic, monotonous and delivered in the exact same tone and intonation he had said it thousands of times before.
The doorman was slightly kinder. As he opened the door for me to pass, he tipped his hat, smiled at me and said, sincerely, “Have a nice trip, ma’am.”

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1 Comment

Filed under Issue 3, Short Story

One response to “On Matters of Corruption

  1. Di Katz

    The unexpected ending is, of course, what I expected of you.

    Very cool piece.

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