Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
I write again, feeling compelled to express my feelings in regards to an incident at the hotel the day before.
Her name was Pieta Rizzi. She was a posh Italian lady wearing a black feather shawl when she waltzed in with her millionaire husband Mario around seven at night. I was mopping the hallway that led in one direction to the indoor pool and in another to the elevators and first-floor rooms. As I was standing in worker’s clothes, upon a puddle of water, I watched the couple walk grandly up to the concièrge, who seemed to be stifling a chuckle.
The husband pushed his wife aside to make the arrangements. I felt the temptation to form an expression of scoff on my face to show my dissatisfaction.
“Hello, good sir,” Mario spoke. He might as well have said “Greetings, foul peasant.”
“Would you like to make a reservation?” the concièrge asked.
Mario Rizzi sniffed. “Don’t insult my intelligence.”
The concièrge’s eyes widened as he looked down hastily at his computer screen. “Reservation for two… and what kind of room would you like?”
I quickly took up mopping again.
“We’ll take a two-bedroom suite.”
He finished the arrangements with the concièrge, and then took his wife over to the seating area by a fireplace. They began whispering to each other heatedly in Italian. Whatever poise he’d had at the counter had dropped completely. The wife’s voice rose up with a brassy, irritated tone. Immediately after her quick outburst, Mario slapped her across the face. I stopped what I was doing, feeling pity for the woman. Looking over at the concièrge, I saw him take good notice of the couple as well. If things escalated, we would’ve both taken immediate action to expel them from the hotel grounds.
Fortunately, things didn’t escalate. I could feel the tension still in the air, though. Mario’s wife was mad as a bat out of hell, yet I could see on her face that she was afraid to speak up further.
The couple’s servant showed up a few minutes later with their luggage. I, at a deliberately slow pace, continued mopping, watching them. The three Italians walked by me, one by one. First Mario, who gave me not one look. It was that treatment of which that could be described in a German phrase which I cannot recall; that feeling one has when someone looks not at you, but through you, as if you weren’t even there, that the space your physical form inhabited appeared to them as nothing but air. A few paces behind Mario padded the all-too-quiet Pieta, who, as she walked by me, directed her gaze in my direction. A faint, flirtatious smile played jestingly upon her lips, and she winked briefly. As she turned away, the silent expression of her victimization and her suffering returned, for it was her true face.
Disturbed, I wandered around the hotel, cleaning random objects and talking to no one. I felt the need to take some solace in dusting old creatures of paraphernalia from long-forgotten years. I wasn’t sure why I felt so disturbed, I just felt it.
My shift ended at nine, the night fully dark and filled with the sense of longing for some kind of End, whether it was in death or sleep. Returning home, I didn’t remain awake for too long, only time enough to feed myself and ready myself for slumber. I have been thinking about starting to read a book of some kind, but which one, I do not know. Once I find one, I’d be sure to have something exciting to let my mind wander in when the world has fallen away and all that remains are the phantoms that haunt my psyche.
The following morning - this morning, of the day I write - finally came. I traveled back to work to find my first task was to clean a room.
After knocking on the door, I found myself face to face with Pieta Rizzi. It was her room that needed cleaning. My core trembled with uncertainty.
“Good morning, Mr. Janitor!” she greeted warmly, opening the door wide open. She wore a tight-fitted dress, and it appeared as if she had freshly made herself up. “Do come in.”
“Thank you,” I said quietly. I surveyed the room, found that not much was in need of cleaning, but the beds were unmade.
As I set to making the first bed, I heard the door to the room close. A hopeful voice in my head provided a brief moment of calmness, and I thus paid less attention to the unhappy woman.
Moving around to the other side of the bed, the new perspective now in the direction to the door, I observed Pieta was standing near the side I had just finished making.
“And how are you enjoying London so far, ma’am?” I asked, to make conversation.
“I much… prefer, it here, than Italia,” she replied with a silky voice. Her thin, long fingers reached upwards to the shoulders of her dress, and with a slow, deliberate, and fluid motion, unhitched the fabric, first exposing her voluptuous bosom, then letting the dress fall completely to her ankles. I froze, not knowing what to do.
“And now that my husband is running a bank errand, I feel… liberated,” she continued, raising her knee onto the mattress, crawling towards me with lust in her eyes.
She reached where I stood, then tried to force her lips against mine. With a sudden impulse, I thrusted my hand against her chest, and staggered back a pace. She tried to move closer, but my hand kept her at bay.
“I don’t want to be touched, woman!” I warned her with a tone of aggravation.
“Why won’t you take me?” she fired back angrily. “Why don’t you want me?”
“I just don’t, madame.”
Her breath came in ragged grunts of frustration. “Am I not beautiful?” she whined desperately.
I felt my throat close up. I didn’t want to offend her, but I couldn’t not tell her the truth.
“Not to me, madame. To other men you will appear as the lustrous light that makes the moon drive them to lunacy, but not I.”
She drew herself back away from my hand, tears filling up her eyes. “I don’t understand.”
I abandoned the bedsheets and circled around to where she now sat, and I placed my hands upon her bare shoulders. “I feel nothing for you, madame, no matter how much I try. I couldn’t tell you why, for I don’t know why, myself.”
She sniffed, drew her dress back up on her body, and hugged me for a brief second, then self-consciously pulled away. “I’m sorry for coming onto you!” she sobbed bitterly.
“Would you like me to finish cleaning your hotel room?” I asked her gently.
She wiped away the tears. “No, it’s okay. You’ve done enough. I’ll just make them myself.”
“Then… I’ll be on my way,” I said, making for the door. Before I could open it, Pieta asked me one last thing.
“You won’t… tell anyone, right?”
I shook my head. “No, madame, your secret’s safe with me.”
I left promptly, and continued my cleaning work elsewhere. While I did my job, I would find myself wondering why I felt nothing for Pieta. I’d like to say I should’ve felt something. What kind of man was I? I felt, and still feel right now, that constricting pressure on the inside of my chest and of my head, which presents itself as a result of intense confusion as to my own identity.
Only in two other brief moments did I ever see Pieta Rizzi and her husband again, and those such moments were only in passing, just minuscule flashes of reality that came and went like leaves in the wind.