Red Faces

Following a Zoom meeting with our Pocket Novel group, I’m posting a short story I mentioned. The first part actually happened to my wife and I. We were staying at a hotel near Denshaw in Saddleworth. Can’t recall the name but it closed within a month of this incident. Perhaps this was the reason.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes Fact is stranger than Fiction. From memory I wrote it the same night it happened while my wife’s graphic description was still fresh in my mind.

Red Faces

When I opened the door of our hotel room, my wife staggered in.

‘What’s the matter, Eve? Your face is all red. The stairs?’ Even though we were both getting on in years, we’d chosen a room on the second floor to avoid the expected noise of the wedding reception that night. Trouble was this converted grand house had no lift.

Eve had gone down for a bottle she’d forgotten.

She collapsed onto the bed and handed the wine to me. ‘I need a drink Graham; a large one.’ It was our fortieth wedding anniversary though I doubted Eve was ready to have a toast. She gulped it down; not her usual style.

‘Next time we leave something in the car, you can go for it, despite your arthritis.’

‘I did offer,’ I stated, defensively.

‘I know, sweetheart. I should have listened. Just walked into the adjoining room by mistake. There were two naked people on the bed. When the woman screamed, I realised what I’d done, apologised profusely and ran out. I’m not used to people doing that anymore.’

‘I know,’ I said, nostalgically recalling our younger days. In retrospect I’d heard the piercing shriek. Sounded like embarrassment all around.

‘I must have mixed up the rooms. There’s no number on the key-card but even so, the codes should be different. It shouldn’t open two doors.’

‘You’d best ring reception to explain. I wonder if they’re part of the wedding group, staying overnight?’ We glanced out of the window to the group milling around the gardens below.

Upon phoning, Eve discovered that our ‘neighbours’ had already spoken to the duty manager. They weren’t happy bunnies.

‘Would you recognise them again, Eve? Could be awkward at brekkie tomorrow.’

She paused before answering quietly. ‘Didn’t really see their heads. The young lady was blond.’ She blushed. ‘Well, what I saw was.’

The duty manager arrived, giving his name as Philip. I was his first day in that role and he was apologetic about the incorrect coding on the key-cards. Replacing our card, he offered some cab sav as compensation for the upset. Looking at our empty celebratory bottle, I accepted.

We’d married forty years before and had returned to where we’d met, Greycliff Manor. I’d been a manager here too with Eve helping out with the cleaning and reception. I reminded her of some of the memorable incidences from our early days, including one awkward situation similar to last evening when she’d knocked and entered a room for cleaning.

‘Oh yes. I’d forgotten that. You’d think I learnt my lesson the first time around. If you hadn’t come to the rescue …’

She relaxed and smiled. We talked more then than we had in ages. It was great to be reminded of those forty years; the good times and not-so-good as well.

At breakfast the following morning, Philip wandered in and began chatting to the hotel guests. I’d already asked if Eve about the couple to which she demurely replied, ‘It’s difficult to identify them with their clothes on.’

Approaching the wedding group, Philip apologised again for ‘last night’s incident’ to a guy he’d recognised.

The woman I assumed was the bride asked her companion, ‘What incident was that, babe?’ I noticed a youthful blonde slink down in her chair and the atmosphere quieten.

Everyone waited for the gentleman to reply. When he didn’t, the bride looked at the manager.

‘What incident?’ she demanded.

Philip answered, seemingly unaware of the impending disaster he was creating. ‘You remember. One of our other guests accidentally interrupted you when you were … you know.’

Anger reddening her cheeks, the bride glared at the groom then the sheepish blonde. Only then did Philip realise what he’d done.

The following minutes of yelling and thrown drink and food were impossible to ignore. Even I blushed at the language.  Meanwhile, Philip tried to calm the situation, failing miserably. I felt sorry for him but it was a steep learning curve in the art of a manager’s discretion.

Suddenly, Eve leant across to kiss me.  ‘Come up to our room, Graham. Our marriage is still going strong and there are a few hours before check out. We have to do one thing, though.’

I grinned. It looked like our anniversary was getting even better.

‘Do what, sweetheart?’

‘To double lock the door, of course.’

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