Part One: 2 Anything you please...
Earl Thomas closed his ledger and slid it under the podium. All the scheduled guests had arrived hours before. His counts and miscellaneous guests requests were noted and double-checked and verified. He looked forward to spending the remainder of his shift in relative peace. The concierge took a moment to survey the lobby. He watched the few men, who were lounging about the sitting area, sip their drinks and puff on cigars as they conversed quietly amongst themselves or thumbed through the evening newspaper. The front door swung open and sparkes of light, which reflected of its lead-glass windows, skipped over the shiny black marble floor and chased each other up the deep red and gold wallpaper. A middle-aged couple entered the lobby. He smiled as they approached him, "Welcome back, Mr. and Mrs. Gildabrandt. I hope you enjoyed your evening. Is there anything I can assist you with?" he asked.
"No, Mr. Thomas. We shall be retiring to our room for the night," the gentleman replied.
"Very good, sir. Very good. Good night to you then."
He bowed slightly as they walked by him without further acknowledgment. He let his smile slip into a sneer before he could gain control of his expression and smooth his face into neutrality.
Rich prick bastard. Too good to wish a piss-ass nothing like me a good night. Piss on you, you damn dick. And not even a tip for my recommendations of events to attend this evening. Damn prick.
His mood tumbled into a familiar spiral of resentment and entitlement as he scanned the magnificent lobby once again.
This should be mine. I shouldn't have to put up with these conceited bastards. I should be sitting high on the hog in the managers office, not groveling to these arrogant sons-of-bitches. I've given years of my life to this place. Provided the guests with anything their sick, little hearts desired. No matter what it was. I have sold my soul for this place and for what? To coddle...
"Excuse me, Mr. Thomas."
A gravelly tenor voice pulled him out of his self-pitying spiral and back to the present. He blinked a couple of times as his eyes focused on the interloper. A tall, broad-shouldered man with light brown hair that just brushed his collar stood before him. Brown eyes scanned him with what might pass as concern from a clean shaven face.
"Ah yes, Mr. Crawford, was it? Please excuse me. My mind had wandered. End of a long day and all that, you know? What can I do for your, sir?"
"I know the feeling, Mr. Thomas. The eternity stare we call it, out on the turpentine plantation. Full of long hard days and little reward most of the time. I hope you don't mind me pulling you back to the here and now," Isaiah said.
"Not at all. Not at all. Now, what can I do for you, Mr. Crawford?"the concierge replied.
Isaiah leaned in closer. "Well, Mr. Thomas, it just so happens that my boss has a dire need for a specific type of entertainment this evening. Of the soft skin and firm, full curves variety. If you get my meaning. Would you be up to providing someone who could alleviate those needs?" Isaiah raised an eyebrow and looked down at the short, balding man.
"I'm sure I could possibly find something to Mr. Overton's liking. Was there any particulars he had in mind?" Glen replied in a hushed tone.
"I believe his exact words where, 'preferably with cocoa skin, firm ass and big tits.' As well as young and pretty...and if I may add, someone who won't be missed for a day or two. I've a feeling our needs will be running deep tonight. We'll of course provide compensation to you and who you supply to us." Isaiah said.
"Yes, Mr. Crawford. I believe I can accommodate your boss. I just need the time for the...entertainment...to arrive at your room. And, payment in advance, of course."
"Wonderful. Eleven P.M., Mr. Thomas. And my boss thanks ya," he said as he reached out and shook Glen's hand. He gave him a crooked smile and made his way toward the lounge door.
Glen watched the tall man's back as he walked away, and then disappeared into the smoke and noise of the bar. Once the door closed, sealing out the laughs and voices floating above the trumpet peals, he looked down at his hand. Five crisp ten dollar bills rested in his palm.
Not bad. But, still a little on the cheap side. Still, it's more than I expected from backwoods, self-important bumpkins such as they. At least the night is not a complete waste.
He slipped the bills into his pocket before retrieving a watch from his vest and checking the time. He tucked the watch back and made his way towards a door at the back of the lobby labeled 'Hotel Staff Only'.
Harriett muscled a large canvas cart, overflowing with laundry, next to three empty carts parked in front of an industrial sized mangle. Her should-length curls lifted and lashed her as she turned into the hot air being forced across the room by a bank of large fans lined up on the far wall. She tucked a particularly unruly ringlet behind her ear and stepped up to the mangle.
"Now, we're going to have a good night aren't we, Clyde? No removing of hands or other appendages. No breaking down. No eating bed sheets. No sucking in aprons which are attached to workers. Got it?" she stared down at the machine...it remained silent and unmoved by her demands.
After what she thought to be a sufficient amount of time for the mangle to agree to her terms, she turned her attention back to the cart and sighed.
"Repeat after me, Harriet...I love my job."
"Yeah. Right. Let me know how that works.
Startled, Harriett spun about, placed her back to the cart and came face to face with her ambusher.
"Damn, Sissy! You scared the bejesus out of me," Harriet clutched at her breast. "Don't go sneaking up on a girl try'n to get her mind set right for her work."
Sissy clung to her friend's shoulder, her knees buckling as she succumbed to a fit of laughter.
"Oh, ha. Ha. Laugh it up. That was not funny," Harriett said.
"Oh, girl that was hilarious! I 'specially like the part where you lecture ol' Clyde. Hell. You almost had me convinced that damn thing was gonna answer you back," Sissy exclaimed.
"I'm pleased I could start your night off on the right foot. You're most welcome. Perhaps I should charge for my services."
"You should! Laughter is priceless in a place like this, honey."
"I know," Harriett looked around the drab room, "Daddy loves it here. I just can't find that love for it."
"That's because you're stuck in the bowels of hell known as the laundry room," Sissy replied, "while daddy is boozing it up and doin' what he loves in the lounge. You can't blame him for that love."
"I just wish I could find what I loved. I can tell you, it sure ain't Clyde. That damn thing scares me to death."
"Ol' Clyde is worthy of your fears, Harrie. He's claimed one or two digits and an appendage or two over the last few years. Respect that piece of shit. Keep your focus and you'll be okay," Sissy said as she looked her friend over. "Say, Harrie. I've been meaning to ask ya why you don't sing with your daddy? I've heard you singing. You have a fantastic voice. Yet, here you are folding laundry and facing down the mangles every day."
"I've practically begged daddy to let me sing with the band. He wants me to grow up and have a respectable job, or so he says," Harriett sighed. "I'm beginning to think it's his way of protecting me from the world. In his own way, he might think I'm actually safe back here sorting sheets and towels."
"Well, you should keep bugging him. You don't belong down here, ya belong in that spotlight. I think he's just being selfish."
Harriett shook her head. "It's not like that, Sissy. Since we lost momma, he's been very protective of me. He just want's what's best for me. Unfortunately, it's what he thinks is best, not what I think it best," Harriett jabbed a finger into her friends shoulder, "besides, you're stuck down here too. Don't you have any big plans? Or, are you going to stay with Clyde and his buddies all your life?"
"Girl, you know I plan to ride the richest bastard I can get to fall for my wilds right outta here. Yes, ma'm. Just as fast as I can spur'em out the door," Sissy laughed. "I'm continuing my husband hunt tonight in fact. I've...umm...a date at nine tonight. Can you cover for me for a few while I'm closing the deal?"
"So that's what it's called now? Husband hunting?" Harriett laughed, "I'da sworn it had a different name."
"Ha. Ha. So funny, Harriett. So, can you cover?"
"Tell you what. I'd like to go down and see my dad for a few before I get elbows deep into Clyde, so to speak," Harriett watched her friend cringe at the visual. "You separate my laundry cart while I run down to the lounge for a bit. I'll fold your dry articles while you go snag your stud."
"Deal!" Sissy said as she hugged her.
Harriett untied her apron and hung it on a peg beside the mangle. "Great! I'll not be too long. I like the sorting to be towels, spreads then sheets in that order, please."
"Now you're just being damn picky. Get on. Get outta here so you can get back," Sissy smiled at her.
Harriett reached for the door knob only to stumble forward as it pulled away from her. She caught her balance just before she crashed into the concierge.
"Hello, Mr. Thomas, I apologize. We...we weren't expecting you," Harriett said as she backed up and made room for him to enter.
Glen lifted his chin arrogantly and stepped past her and into the room. "And where are you off too, Ms. Monroe?" he said.
"Why, to the restroom, Mr. Thomas," Harriett bounced back and forth on the balls of her feet. "My belly has the grumbles tonight. I'm afraid I might be spending a lot of time running back and forth between here and there," Harriett clutched at her stomach and squeezed out the door before the man could reply.