~A Short Story~
Danny had been previously unaware of the many flights of stairs that they would have to climb to reach their room. The hotel hadn’t advertised the massive, spiraling steps that dominated the center hall, nor had they mentioned that most, if not all of the rooms were located at the top of the enormous, carved oak staircase. Danny peered upwards towards the immense darkness in which the stairs disappeared. He imagined the climb to the suite, long and steep through the thick, stale air. Carrying Pansy’s many hat boxes and shoe boxes, and boxes stuffed full of silken scarves and colorful gloves. He cringed, and forcefully rubbed the temples of his head to ease the prominent ache. Sunshine poured into the room through the many intricate, stained glass windows and flooded the hotel’s main hall with glorious light. The many colors from the afternoon sun seemed to absorb the darkening shadows from the staircase, and Danny was finally able to turn away from the horrendous sight to engage in conversation with the young concierge, who was standing ever so quietly at the front desk, examining a paper and wiping his spectacles clean of unwanted dust. Danny cleared his throat,
“Excuse me, are you someone who could help me with a great many bags?” The concierge lifted his bushy black eyebrows at the unexpected noise. “You see,” Danny continued, “my wife engaged in some rather elaborate shopping expeditions while we were in Paris. She, um, well she has a knack for that sort of thing.” The young man behind the desk stared blankly as his customer spoke, and Danny wondered if the peculiar fellow indeed spoke any English. He tried again. “Excusez-moi, monsieur, la escalier est plutôt élaborer!” The concierge cringed, and then spoke,
“Yes sir, indeed the staircase is quite elaborate, it is the hotel’s finest attribute.” Danny frowned.
“And yet, you failed numerous times to mention any stairs in your brochures. As I just previously mentioned, my wife has a many number of heavy cases that need transporting to our room which, I am assuming is at the top of your ‘finest attribute’”. The concierge’s bushy brows retreated to their original, level position above his foggy eyes, and the young man clicked his tongue upon the roof of his mouth before answering, bluntly,
“Of course, monsieur, if you would be so kind as to show me to your many, heavy cases, I would be delighted to assist you.” Danny heaved a great sigh, letting his tight shoulders drop to a more comfortable position.
“Merci,” he breathed with relief, and proceeded to lead the curious hotel employee to where his young and fashionable wife was patiently waiting.
Pansy was overjoyed when she finally noticed her darling husband exiting the grand hall, and she perked up with a great deal of unnecessary enthusiasm when she saw the petite, scruffy young concierge strolling close behind him. Dozens of boxes were strewn across the hotel’s lobby floor, they completely covered the dusty wool rug on which Pansy so delicately stood, and a particular hatbox pushed against her tiny ankles with uncomfortable force. Pansy nudged the box gently to the side. Oh, how she adored Paris, with it’s many elaborate stores and adorable shops. She could have spent a lifetime strolling the cozy streets, collecting bags and bags of fashionable wears to bring home and show the other girls. But, Danny insisted that they leave the glorious city, their holiday was not intended to be spent simply in one location.
“Our trip must be evenly distributed throughout all of France,” Pansy could recall her husband’s words, “we must explore the unknown regions of this wonderful country! Go off the beaten path, take adventures, experience new places!” But, Pansy wandered if this dusty, old, stale-smelling hotel was truly a place worth experiencing. And, as her venturesome husband advanced towards the many scattered bags that dominated the lobby, Pansy made a silent, mental note to trust their adventure and embrace the peculiar hotel.
The staircase was indeed, rather long. The tiny concierge huffed and puffed his entire journey up the slippery steps, all the while carrying a great many awkward boxes in his weak, little arms. Pansy pranced lightly behind him, all the while examining the detailed carvings of the handrail and unhappily breathing in the thick, dusty air. She coughed.
“Steady now, my darling!” Danny called down to his fragile wife. He was climbing far in front of the trembling concierge who, greatly due to the vast number of Parisian hat boxes that he balanced atop his head, was very near the point of passing out upon the shady steps.
“Almost there!” Danny yelled down into the darkness. “I can see the light from the hallway. Yes, I believe we’ve almost made the journey!” The poor, wheezing hotel employee collapsed, out of breath, into the illuminated hallway of floor number fourteen. He heaved inward enormous breaths of heavy air, grasped at his aching chest for all that it was worth, and stared upward at the two, pleasantly glowing faces that gazed curiously down upon his pathetic body.
“You poor thing!” Pansy cooed. “Danny, darling, have you any soda in your suitcase? That was quite the climb for someone so small!” Danny simply shook his head.
“He’ll be fine, my love. Now, help me find our door! We’re room 325.” Pansy gasped.
“325! Our wedding date! Darling, it’s fate. It’s meant to be! What are the chances of us being provided with a room that’s numbered with our very own wedding date?” Danny grinned.
“I told you my dear, sometimes it’s important to simply relax and let yourself be surprised. Exploration is the key to discovery!” He exclaimed triumphantly. “Speaking of key, hand me our room key, will you dearest?” Pansy beamed, handing over the heavy, rusted metal keys to her husband with encouraged enthusiasm.
The suite was dark. Thick, chilly air spilled over the charming couple as they entered the room, and the smell of musty dust invaded their senses. Danny flicked on the overhead light. The large chandler that hung elegantly in the center of the suite flickered in surprise, as if having been startled by the rare and unexpected presence of guests. As Pansy’s dainty eyes began to adjust to the frail lighting, she could begin to make out certain objects that occupied the rather large hotel suite. A king sized bed dominated the center of the room, a vanity rested far in a back corner, thick purple curtains hung in front of the single, large window that stared down upon the approaching couple. Danny reached the window and pulled back the heavy drapery.
My, what a view!” He exclaimed, gesturing for his wife to join him. Pansy slowly made her way to her husband’s side, all the while acknowledging the thick layer of dust that rested atop the lonely vanity table. Danny opened the large windows, and a thick gust of warm Spring air spilled into the suite. He breathed in the sweet smells of the French countryside.
“Ah, at last some fresh air!” He stretched his strong arms high above his head and then enveloped his wife in a tight embrace.
“Darling,” she said, suddenly remembering, “what ever happened to that terrifically petite little man?” Danny frowned.
“You mean the concierge? Heavens! I haven’t a clue. Do you suppose that he’s still passed out atop that disastrous staircase?” Pansy gasped.
“Oh Danny, do go see, will you! I wouldn’t want the poor thing to die because of us!” Danny let loose a soft giggle.
“Always the alarmist. Don’t worry, my sweet thing. Just you wait here.” Pansy watched as her husband ventured back out into the dimly lit hallway. She was left alone in the large master suite, amongst the dusty pillows and the hideous floral bedspread, breathing in the thick air and yearning for the sites and smells that waited just outside the window. She sat down upon the bed, removing her creamy white gloves and placing them delicately in her lap. Just then, Danny burst forcefully back into the room, disturbing Pansy’s detailed inspection of the gloomy wallpaper.
“He’s dead!” Her husband wheezed. He was out of breath and in obvious discomfort, and stared down upon Pansy’s pretty face with exaggerated concern.
“He’s what?” Pansy took a deep breath in, unsure of the truth in her husband’s startling remark.
“You heard me, the concierge is dead. Stone dead. We killed the poor man, he isn’t even breathing anymore.” Pansy’s dainty hands began to shake.
“You’re sure, darling? He isn’t just, um, sleeping? Why, I’m rather tired myself from such a long climb. Maybe he just decided to take a little nap! Surely, he can’t be dead, you must be joking.” Danny leaned in closer to his wife’s face and whispered with purpose.
“No. Not sleeping. Dead.” Pansy cringed.
“We must leave this place, at once.” Her husband continued. “The police will most likely be here soon, we must leave no evidence of our being here in this ghastly hotel.” Pansy was shaking fiercely now, and she wiped the sweat from her brow with a dusty glove.
“But, where will we go? Where will we hide?” Danny gazed down upon his wife with determination.
“Paris. That is where we will go. They’ll never find us there, amongst the many crowds of people and tourists that flood the streets, especially this time of year. We’ll blend right in, that’s for sure.” Pansy couldn’t believe her husband’s words, she was ecstatic. Paris, a dream come true. Far away from the dusty walls and stale air of such a horrid and old hotel. She leaned back into the lumpy mattress, wrapped her tiny arms around her torso, and breathed in a tremendous sigh of relief.
“Pansy! Pansy! Pansy, darling, wake up!” Danny stood looking down upon his quiet wife, who had fallen soundly asleep and now rested peacefully atop the king sized bed. Her curls were still intact, makeup still firm, and gloves still curled up in the skirts of her tiny lap. It had been a long day, a long journey, a long life! And, Danny decided to simply let his wife sleep, unable to wake such a delicate creature in her perfect state of bliss. The concierge had helped carry in the many hatboxes and shoeboxes, and boxes filled with silken scarves and colorful gloves. They placed the packages down upon the dusty furniture, Danny tipped the petite concierge tremendously well, and closed the door that connected their room with the musty hallway. The husband then removed his shoes, removed his hat, and laid himself down to rest quietly beside his wife. Cool, embracing spring air poured in through the open window of room number 325, and Pansy continued to dream of her perfect Paris all throughout the night.